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Locarno 2014

Film by Lav Diaz.
space.
FIPRESCI Prize: "From What Is Before"

Now in its 67th year, the Locarno Film Festival takes place each August in a charming town in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, against the mighty backdrop of the Alps. This year's festival included such illustrious guests as Agnès Varda, Mia Farrow, Juliette Binoche and Jean-Pierre Léaud, who all received special awards. Roman Polanski was scheduled to join them, but cancelled at the last minute in the face of public protest.

Outdoor screenings on the Piazza Grande are central to the festival: each night, one or more films are presented on a huge screen to an audience of some 8,000 spectators. In the event of rain (and what an event it was this year, with a 50-year record of over 13 cm falling in just one day), shuttle buses are on hand to take audiences to a local conference venue which serves in place of a permanent home for festival screenings.

While crowds are a sure sign of a film-loving public, Locarno audiences demonstrate great patience as well as devotion as they queue in hot and tightly-packed conditions for screenings from which people are often turned away for lack of seats. For those who make it inside the larger venues, including the Piazza Grande itself, strong-armed security guards are on hand to keep people away from vast reserved sections of the best seats, which remain empty if there are fewer special guests than anticipated.

Lav Diaz was the darling of the 2014 festival, taking its highest honour, the Golden Leopard, for From What Was Before, his 5½ hour portrait of a Philippine village in the 1970s, where rising levels of fear and distrust anticipate the arrival of military occupiers sent in by dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The film also took the FIPRESCI prize, as well as the Don Quijote Prize of the International Federation of Film Societies. Pedro Costa won Best Director for his artistically accomplished meditation on old age, memory and military rule in the Cape Verde set Cavalo Dinheiro. Best actress went to ArianeLabed who plays the only female sailor on board a cargo ship in Fidelio: L'Odyssée d'Alice, while Artem Bystrov took best actor for his performance as a plumber who stands up to corruption in The Fool. A special jury prize went to Listen Up Philip a cautionary comedy revolving around an arrogant young novelist. 

In Locarno's 'Cineasti del presente' competition, the Golden Leopard went to Navajazo (dir. Ricardo Silva, Mexico), a docu-fiction on the struggle for survival in the border town of Tijuana. The 'Opera Prima' award for best first feature went to Songs from the North (dir. Soon-mi Yoo), a portrait of North Korea. The festival also hosted its wildly popular 'Semaine de la critique' programme of 7 of the year's best documentaries as selected by the Swiss Association of Film Journalists. They made an award ex aequo to 15 Corners of the World (dir. Zuzanna Solakiewicz) and La Mort du Dieu Serpent (dir. Damien Froidevaux).

In addition to its competitive sections, the festival hosted several retrospectives, the most ample devoted to Italian production company Titanus. The festival also supports the future of independent filmmaking in the global South and East with its Open Doors co-production lab, this year focused on the English and Portugese-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa. (Alison Frank)

Locarno (Switzerland, August 6-16, 2014). Prize: From What Is Before (Mula sa kung ano ang noon) by Lav Diaz (Philippines, 2014, DCP) (presented in competition), "for its outstanding cinematographic achievement in story-telling and its very impressive visual and narrative style that is unique and exceptional in terms of world cinematography and is linked with a profound political awareness of the country's history and with a deeply philosophical contemplation on time and space". Jury: Alberto Castellano, Italy ("Alias / Il Manifesto"), president; Alison Frank, UK ("Afterimage", "BBC News"); Peter Kremski, Germany ("WDR", "Filmbulletin"), Alexandra Zawia, Austria ("Wiener Zeitung"), Monika Schärer, Switzerland ("Swiss National TV"). Print source: sine olivia pilipinas, 1800 Marikina, sineoliviapilipinas@gmail.com. Festival: www.pardo.ch

Reports

Gates of Hell. Alexandra Zawia examined FIPRESCI prize winner From What Is Before (Mula sa kung ano ang noon) by Lav Diaz. arrow.
Titanus Retrospective. The Locarno International Film Festival traditionally hosts an excellent retrospective, and for the festival’s 67th edition (6 to 16 August 2014), it was devoted to Titanus. Alberto Castellano's report. arrow.
Gyeongju. Alison Frank reviewed Gyeongju by Zhang Lu. arrow.
Honorary Awards for Juliette Binoche & Agnès Varda. Locarno's Excellence Award for outstanding achievement in acting is in its tenth year now. Previous winners of the award include such luminaries as John Malkovich, Susan Sarandon, Charlotte Rampling and Isabelle Huppert. This year's winner, Juliette Binoche, is in fine company. Peter Kremski's report. arrow.

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Locarno 2014

bullet. Index
bullet. Gates of Hell
bullet. Titanus Retrospective
bullet. Gyeongju
bullet. Honorary Awards

Language editor:
Alison Frank