Italian director Ginevra Elkann’s directorial debut, “If Only,” about kids with divorced parents, will open the 72nd Locarno Film Festival, its first edition under new artistic director Lili Hinstin, who has assembled an edgy mix of promising titles from young auteurs and more established names.

“If Only” and the fest closer, iconic Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Uzbekistan-set “To the Ends of the Earth” will both premiere in Locarno’s 8,000-seat Piazza Grande.

Also set for a launch from the Piazza Grande is Amazon’s terrorist drama “7500,” directed by Patrick Vollrath, with star Joseph Gordon-Levitt in tow; Valerie Donzelli’s comedy “Notre Dame”; and fellow French director Stephane Demoustier’s “The Girl With a Bracelet,” in which a teenager stands trial for murdering her best friend.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which premiered in Cannes, will also screen on the Piazza (without talent in attendance), as will Spike Lee’s classic “Do the Right Thing,” freshly restored by Universal in 4K, which will play as part of Locarno’s 40-title Black Light retro section dedicated to black cinema.

Standouts in the competition of the Swiss fest, which is dedicated to the international indie scene, include “A Girl Missing,” which reunites Japan’s Koji Fukada with Mariko Tsutsui, the star of his Un Certain Regard prize-winning “Harmonium”; Portuguese auteur and Locarno regular Pedro Costa’s “Vitalina Varela”; fellow Portuguese Joao Nicolau’s hotly anticipated musical, “Technoboss”; and Italian documaker Maura Delpero’s first feature, “Hogar,” set in an Argentine center where single mothers are cared for by nuns.

Other promising world premieres vying for the Golden Leopard are “Echo,” from Iceland’s Runar Runarsson, whose “Sparrows” won the top prize in San Sebastian in 2015; immigration drama “Douze Mille” by France’s Nadege Trebal; Syrian civil war-themed “During Revolution” by Maya Khoury; “Isadora’s Children” by France’s Damien Manivel, which revolves around dancer Isadora Duncan’s solo piece “Mother”; and “Film do Mundo,” the second feature by Swiss director (of Portuguese origin) Basil da Cunha, whose debut, “After the Night,” was in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2013.

“The choices you make for your first festival all tend to become a kind of manifesto,” Hinstin said in her introductory remarks, noting that her lineup is “clear and precise, but also eclectic: open to all genres, all continents, all forms of representation.”

French filmmaker and novelist Catherine Breillat, who is known for provocative explorations of sex and power such as “Sex Is Comedy,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Abuse of Weakness,” will preside over the jury.

Guests expected to make the trek include cult U.S. director John Waters, who will be honored with a career prize; Hilary Swank, also being feted; South Korean star Song Kang-ho and director Bong Joon-ho, winner of this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or with “Parasite”; and Kiyoshi Kurosawa who is coming to promote the closer.

2019 Locarno Lineup


“Magari,” Ginevra Elkann, Italy/France 

“La Fille Au Bracelet,” Stephane Demoustier, France/Belgium

“Greener Grass,” Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, U.S. 

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino, U.S. 

“Coffy,” Jack Hill, U.S.

“Notre Dame,” Valerie Donzelli, France/Belgium 

“Die  Fruchtbaren Jahre Sind Vorbei,” Natascha Keller, Switzerland 

“Instinct,” Halina Reijn, Netherlands

“Camille,” Boris Lojkine, France 

“Days of the Bangold Summer,” Simon Bird, U.K.

“Il Nido,” Roberto De Feo, Italy

“Adoration,” Fabrice Du Weltz, Belgium/France 

“Cecil B. Demented,” John Waters, U.S. 

“To the Ends of the Earth,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/Uzbekistan/Qatar

“7500,” Patrick Vollrath, Germany/Austria

“Diego Maradona,” Asia Kapadia, U.K.


“A Febre,” Maya Da-Rin, Brazil/France/Germany

“Echo,” Runar Runarsson, Iceland/France/Switzerland

“Cat in the Wall,” Mina Mileva Vesela Kazakova, Bulgaria/U.K./France

“Das Freiwillige Jahr,” Ulrich Kohler, Heiner Winkler, Germany

“Douze Mille,” Nadège Trebal, France

“During Revolution,” Maya Khoury, Syria/Sweden

“The Science of Fictions,” Yosep Anggi Noen, Indonesia/Malaysia/France

“Hogar,” Maura Delpero, Italy, Argentina

“Les Enfants d’Isadora,” Damien Manivel, France/South Korea

“Longa Notte,” Eloy Inciso, Spain

“O Fim Do Mundo,” Basil da Cunha, Switzerland 

“Pa-Go,” Park Jung-bum, South Korea

“Technoboss,” Joao Nicolau, Portugal, France

“Terminal Sud,” Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, France 

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” Joe Talbot

“Vitalina Varela,” Pedro Costa, Portugal