Locarno Film Festival Unveils Lineup With Female Characters at Its Center

The Locarno Film Festival has unveiled the official lineup for its 71st edition, including 13 world premieres in the main competition, which is characterized by films with women at their center. 

Artistic director Carlo Chatrian – who moves to the Berlin Film Festival next year – noted that, although only three of the 15 titles competing for the Golden Leopard are directed by women, “a large number of the films are portraits of women.”

That applies to U.S. first-time director Kent Jones’ drama “Diane,” which stars Mary Kay Place and made a splash at Tribeca; Romanian auteur Radu Muntean’s teenage pregnancy drama “Alice T”; Turkey’s “Sibel,” by Cagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti, whose protagonist is a young, rebellious mute woman; and Iraqi director Abbas Fahdel’s “Yara,” about a young woman who lives with her grandmother in an idyllic Lebanese village “where politics and the female condition in the Arab world come crashing in.”

As it happens, Chatrian said, almost half of the films in competition at the prominent Swiss fest, which is dedicated to indie and cutting-edge fare, “have the [female] protagonists’ name as their title.”

As for blockbusters, Sony’s “The Equalizer 2” will screen on Locarno’s open-air 8,000-seat Piazza Grande, with director Antoine Fuqua in attendance.

The world premiere of French director Vianney Lebasque’s “Team Spirit,” based on a real sporting scam involving a basketball team that faked being disabled to take part in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, will open the fest on the Piazza Grande.

As is customary, the Locarno competition mixes potential discoveries with known festival auteurs such as South Korea’s prolific Hong Sangsoo, who will premiere his “Hotel by the River”; Taiwan’s Ying Liang, whose “A Family Tour” is centered on a female director contending with Chinese censorship; and France’s Yolande Zauberman, whose Israel-set “M” is about a young man from an Ultra-Orthodox community where he has suffered multiple rapes.

Switzerland is repped by Thomas Imbach’s road movie “Glaubenberg”, and Italy by Inquisition period piece “Menocchio,” a sophomore work from Alberto Fasulo, whose “Tir” won the top prize at the 2013 Rome Film Festival.

British artist Richard Billingham is premiering “Ray & Liz,” based on striking photographs he took of his self-destructive parents in a public-housing apartment on the outskirts of Birmingham; Chile’s Dominga Sotomayor is competing with “Late to Die Young,” (pictured) set in a rural community below the Andes during the summer on 1990; and Argentine director Mariano Llinas is launching “La Flor,” which, with a 14-hour running time, “is probably the longest film in the history of the festival,” Chatrian said. “La Flor” comprises six very different segments that feature the same four actresses as protagonists.

Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage, who made a splash with “Demons,” is premiering “Genese,” the story of two adolescent half-siblings, one male, one female, and their parallel experiences with sexuality. From Germany, Jan Bonny’s “Wintermarchen” depicts a real radical xenophobic youth organization that murdered several immigrants. Singapore is repped by Yeo Siew Hua’s noir “A Land Imagined,” about a journalist investigating the disappearance of an illegal migrant worker.

Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke will preside over the competition jury.

As previously announced, versatile French auteur Bruno Dumont will be world premiering his new TV series “Coincoin and the Extra Humans” at the Piazza Grande and also picking up a lifetime achievement honor. The show is the second season of Dumont’s “Li’l Quinquin” series and sees its young protagonist become a French nationalist.

Other world premieres launching from the Piazza Grande include Italian director Duccio Chiarini’s Rome-set “The Guest,” which looks at instability in relationships through the eyes of a 38-year-old dumped by his longtime girlfriend; Swiss director Bettina Oberli’s similarly themed “With the Wind,” about a young couple on a farm whose lives are disrupted by the arrival of a wind-turbine engineer; and “I Feel Good,” by French directors Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern.

“I Feel Good,” a comedy about a man trying to get rich by providing low-cost cosmetic surgery, will close the fest, with Oscar-winning protagonist Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) in tow.

Locarno’s Piazza Grande titles will compete for the Variety Piazza Grande Award given by Variety critics to the film that best combines artistic excellence and commercial potential. 

This will be the last edition of Locarno headed by Chatrian, who has served as artistic director of the festival since 2013 and has recently been appointed artistic director of the Berlin Film Festival, starting with its 2020 edition.

The 71st edition of Locarno will run Aug. 1-11.

2018 Locarno Lineup

PIAZZA GRANDE

“The Guest,” Duccio Chiarini, Italy Switzerland, France 

“Coincoin and the Extra-Humans,” France

“Liberty,” Leo McCarey, U.S. 

“With the Wind,” Bettina Oberli, Switzerland 

“I Feel Good,” Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kerverne, France

“Ruben Brandt – Collector,” Milorad Krstic, Hungary 

“Blaze,” Ethan Hawke, U.S. 

“L’Ordre Des Medecins,” David Roux, France

“Seven,” David Fincher, U.S.

“An Enemy That Means You Well,” Denis Rabaglia, Switzerland, Italy 

“What Does Not Kill Us,” Sandra Nettlebeck, Germany

“Manila in the Claws of Light,” Lino Broka, Philippines

“The Equalizer 2,” Antoine Fuqua, U.S. 

“Searching,” Aneesh Chaganty, U.S. 

“Birds of Passage,” Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, Colombia, Denmark

“Team Spirit,” Vianney Lebasque, France

“BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee, U.S.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

“Glaubenberg,” Thomas Imbach, Switzerland

“A Family Tour,” Liang Ying, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia

“Diane,” Kent Jones, U.S.

“La Flor,” Mariano Llinas, Argentina

“Yara,” Abbas Fahdel, Lebanon, Iraq, France

“Menocchio,” Alberto Fasulo, Italy

“Late to Die Young,” Dominga Sotomayor, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, The Netherlands, Qatar

“Ray & Liz,” Richard Billingham, U.K.

“Hotel by The River,” Hong Sangsoo, South Korea

“A Land Imagined,” Siew Hua Yeo, Singapore, France, The Netherlands

“M,” Yolande Zauberman, France 

“Sibel,” Cagla Zencirci, Guillaume Giovanetti, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Turkey

“Genese,” Philippe Lesage, Canada

“Wintermarchen,” Jan Bonny, Germany 

“Alice T.,” Radu Muntean, Romania

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