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The fifth edition of the Locarno Industry Academy will kick off this Aug. 7 and run through to Aug. 13  during the 72nd Locarno Film Festival, Europe’s biggest mid-summer movie event.

It’s been four years since the Locarno Academy added an industry section to its curriculum, and in that time the event has not only grown in its native Switzerland, but spread out across Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.

Designed as a training program for young professionals in the fields of production, programming, sales, distribution and exhibition, the Locarno Industry Academy provides participants with an opportunity to network and pick the brains of industry big hitters from around the world in related fields as well as discuss best practice with their fellow students.

This year’s participants are: Samira Asgarova, distributor at Cinema Distribution in Azerbaijan; Nuno Gonçcalves, from Alambique Filmes, a distribution company from Portugal; Jean-Benoit Henry, a sales agent at Les Films du Losange, France; Louise Malherbe, film programmer and curator for the Metropolis Cinema in Lebanon; Alice Miller, film programmer at the Leeds IFF in the U.K., Emilie Moor, distributor and producer at Adok Films in Switzerland; Joyce Newrzella, festival assistant at Germany’s The Match Factory; Chloe Tai, marketing and business operations manager for Films Constellation in the U.K.; Arnout van der Maas, production, marketing and sales professional at Cinema Delicatessen in the Netherlands; and Michal Vokoun, a PR associate at Mezipatra Queer FF in the Czech Republic.

Satellite academies and Academy-hosted events are held in Brazil at the Sao Paulo IFF, at Mexico’s Morelia IFF, in Santiago, Chile– previously in Valdivia; at IFF Panama, in Greece at the Thessaloniki Festival; at the Lincoln Center in New York; and in Beirut, Lebanon.

Ahead of this year’s Locarno Industry Academy, Variety talked with the heads of the European and Latin American Academies: Marion Klotz, manager for Locarno and Brazil; Locarno Academy Morelia and Panama program manager Sandra Gómez; and Sao Paolo manager Julia Duarte. They discussed what set their editions apart, and what they work on in their time together.

BrLab, BRAZIL: OCT 6-9

2019 marks the third year for the Locarno Industry Academy in Brazil. In its first two years, the academy was hosted at the Sao Paolo Intl. Film Festiva, with support from Cinema do Brazil. This year, it heads to Sao Paolo’s development-focused lab BrLab, which has stepped up as the event’s primary backing partner.

“I believe there is an isolation particular to Brazil, perhaps because of its unique language in Latin America or its size,” Sao Paolo project manager Julia Duarte told Variety. “Because of this, there isn’t much interaction between Brazil and our neighboring territories. So, a key objective of our Academy is to point out similarities between Brazil and the rest of Latin America and discuss how we can think of the Latin American industry more holistically.”


Heading into its fifth year, the Locarno Industry Academy at Morelia was the first international partnership for the Academy, which has since become a yearly event backed by the Mexican Film Institute, Imcine.

“I think it’s common in Latin America that young professionals interested or working in distribution, exhibition or programming are creative and many times doing multiple roles at the same time,” Gómez said of the Latin American markets represented between the two Academies in which she participates.

Major talking points at last year’s edition included strategies for programming international festivals, what to do with a film once it’s finished, how to market and promote independent initiatives and the challenges represented with the emergence of VOD platforms.


A new addition to the Locarno Academy lineup this year, the Panama IFF, in partnership with Panama film comission DICINE, focuses primarily on the Caribbean and Central American markets.

“In these territories the spaces and support for independent cinema are, in some cases, non-existent,” noted Gómez. “There are countries with no film institutes where directors and producers have to look for creative ways to reach audiences.”

“The international industry is facing so many changes, and new generations are passionate about sharing films and reaching new audiences by thinking out of the box and trying new models and experiences to add to the traditional film industry,” she concluded.


First launched in 2017, the Chilean Locarno Industry Academy partnered with Australab and was held at the Valdivia Intl. Film Festival and will work as well with the CCC – Centro de Cine y Creacion de Santiago de Chile – going forward. The focus is mainly on the southern cone of South America, including Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, but representatives from other countries have also participated.

In contrast to the Brazilian model, which seeks a more inclusive relationship with other Latin American markets, the Chilean edition aims “at deconstructing the very European idea of a single Latin American Market,” according to Klotz. “Questions of identity are strong there, and that’s important to keep this in mind when trying to understand what’s going in Latin America,”

“The market for indie cinema is tough in the region, but there is talent and an incredible energy,” she pointed out. “Theatrical distribution is hard, but digital and festival or event-driven screenings offer a real opportunity in the region.”