Locarno66 concluded with a prize list that testifies to the event’s spirit of research. The diversity highlighted in this edition was reflected in the jury verdicts that saluted one of the most original of emerging filmmakers (Serra), the return of some grand masters (Pinto, Yersin), a film that ignited the enthusiasm of critics and audiences alike, (Short Term 12), a director who seems increasingly and completely in his element as he explores relationships (and emotional transactions) between men and women, from one film to the next, (Hong Sangsoo) and also one of the most political films in the program (El Mudo) – even if the press hardly noticed it. We saw the first award for a Spanish film ever at Locarno, as well as a return, after several years, of films from Portugal and South Korea. Historia de la meva mort certainly divided opinions, but it is an undeniably purely cinematic film, inconceivable outside of its medium. Difficult to describe in words without being reductive, the film continues the unique trajectory being forged by Albert Serra, a visionary and uncompromising director, ever precise and independent in the choices he makes. Casanova, a loose cannon in the decadent and somnolent milieu of the court, to Dracula, a count and shepherd, who brings to light the connections between night, paganism and nature that Stoker’s novel only suggested, allows for several readings. But it is in visual terms that the film develops its ideas. The film is composed of pictures in which the camera captures every nuance of light. Thread through with moments of rare potency, and displaying a masterly sense of composition, Historia de la meva mort is a unique film that I am sure certain will resurge in viewers’ memories like an underground current. E agora ? – Lembra-me is one of those wonderful gifts that the selection process sometimes offers you. The film arrived unexpectedly and its combination of heartache and humor immediately captivated us. Joaquim Pinto is one of the great sound-artists in film history and his film is built around an endlessly inventive soundtrack. A film about cinema and the life that informs it, able to make connections between Saint Augustine and Aids, the fires that devastated Portugal and memories of working with Ruiz and Jean-Claude Biette, E agora? – Lembra-me was one of the major discoveries of this edition.
Ur i Sunhi is a film in the form of a puzzle. At its centre, a young female student, wanting to go abroad and caught up in managing three relationships with three men. In a simple but highly effective manner, Hong focuses the narrative on the men, leaving Sunhi’s character hovering in a space constructed by the opinions of others. So Sunhi becomes ever more desired and protected. The basis of the film is one of the principles of cinema: the attempt to capture the essence of filmed images. An attempt forever doomed to failure, since images are not real.
Brie Larson (who won the Best Actress Award) left one of the brightest impressions on this festival edition. In her message to her director on the Piazza Grande on Saturday evening, in which she thanked him for having enabled her to confront that zone of darkness that she had tried to conceal on film, she evidenced a rare sincerity. The ten-minute ovation she received when the film ended its official screening signaled the start of a love affair between her and the festival that I hope will continue over the coming years.
I met Fernando Bacilio one evening at a party. He was alone, leaning against a wall. I recognized him from that unchanging expression of his, whereas he did not know who I was. As I chatted to him in my stumbling Spanish he told me that he had come to the party on foot, and that this was his first time in Europe. He was like the character of the judge whose powers of speech have been destroyed in El Mudo: they have the same instantly felt moral rectitude, apparent in those clear eyes of his.