Just steps from the outdoor screen and the 8,000 seats that have been set up on the Piazza Grande where the 67th Locarno International Film Festival will open on 6 August, I sat down with Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian to talk about films of the past and present, the American independent film line-up, Roman Polanski and Agnès Varda.
Kouguell: This is your second year as Artistic Director. What changes will we see at the Festival this year?
Chatrian: “Last year, I didn’t want to change the Festival that much because I felt, and still feel, that the structure is good and fits the goals -- to continue on the same path with (both) the history of cinema and new films. This year’s selection of new films will have more surprises than last year. The main competition last year was composed of mainly quite well-known directors; this year there is a good balance of first-time, lesser known and established directors.”
Kouguell: Are there any current trends in filmmaking that you have found in this year’s films?
Chatrian: “Cinema as an art form has more than one direction. Luckily there are filmmakers willing to take different directions and we see this here at this year’s Festival. I’m always a little bit concerned when some critics say, ‘the new cinema will be this or that’ -- what I can say is that cinema -- especially through young filmmakers -- seems quite vibrant and not a dead art form.”
On American Indie Films at the Festival
Chatrian: “We try to provide a complete panorama of American indie cinema but we are not concerned about being exhaustive. Locarno is a good festival to help the career of a director. One of the purposes of the Locarno Film Festival is to discover new talent. I’m happy to have back -- they were discovered by Locarno -- American indie directors Alex Ross Perry ( "Listen Up Philip"), Joel Potrykus ("Buzzard") and J.P. Sniadecki with his documentary "The Iron Ministry".”
The other American films include "Single Stream" directed by Ernst Karel, Toby Kim Lee and Pawel Wojtasik, "Songs from the North" by Soon-Mi Yoo, the "Tony Longo Trilogy" directed by indie cinema veteran Thom Anderson, "Creep" (Patrick Brice’s first feature- length genre film), "Thirst" a short narrative film directed by Rachel McDonald, and the fiction feature "Christmas Again" directed by Charles Poekel.
On Roman Polanski
Kouguell: Some might feel that inviting Roman Polanski to the Festival is a controversial choice. What are your thoughts on this?
Chatrian: “I’m aware of this. I don’t want to hurt anyone. When I had the chance to invite him to do a master class for the young filmmakers at the Locarno Summer Academy, it was a chance to gain an inside angle of this director. That’s the purpose of the festival -- we exchange ideas; Polanksi can give his film knowledge to other people. One side is justice and one is the filmmaker. He is a great creator of moving images and for me, not controversial, simple as that. He is willing to share his ideas with young directors. If anyone else wants to take him and bring him to justice this is not the right place to do it because we are a film festival.”
On Honoring Agnès Varda with The Pardo d’onore Swisscom Award
Chatrian: “It is important to pay tribute to her as a woman director, and as a major figure in modern and independent cinema. Varda and I discussed the titles to choose to screen at the Festival. As you see there are well known films -- and others not as known [like] the 2011 documentary television series Agnès de ci de là Varda.
“What is interesting in her work is that she is absolutely free to choose topics, format, length, and style. She is free to switch from documentaries to fiction -- to work with big stars or not, to reflect on her own experience. Through her work we can see and experience a number of important movements in the 20th Century -- the American Blank Panthers (Huey), the women’s movement, "The Gleaners and I," " Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma," and more. Varda allows me and the Festival to watch cinema as language; she allows the festival to retell important stories of the past years. At age 86 she is full of energy and willing to exchange her experience with the audience.”
The Locarno International Film Festival offers a vast range of work from the past and present, a diverse selection of shorts, feature-length, narrative and documentary films, and a window onto the future of cinema around the globe.
The Locarno International Film Festival runs from August 6-16, 2014. For more information visit: www.pardo.ch
Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell presents international workshops and seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! and THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide.www.su-city-pictures.com , http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog