Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival has revealed the lineup for its 75th edition, sticking to its promise of discovering new talent.
A slew of debuting filmmakers will showcase their works, from Italy’s Nicola Prosatore with “Piano Piano” to Caterina Mona, focusing in “Semret” on an Eritrean single mother working at a Zurich hospital and dreaming of becoming a midwife.
Thomas Hardiman’s U.K.’s proposition “Medusa Deluxe,” a murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing competition — boarded by New Europe Film Sales — is also bound to generate some excitement.
“‘Medusa Deluxe’ is one of the coolest debuts of the year,” the company’s CEO Jan Naszewski enthused to Variety.
“I’m sure it will rock the Piazza Grande and give the festival a great spark.”
But Locarno will also bring in heavyweights, starting with a screening of the much-anticipated Brad Pitt vehicle “Bullet Train,” directed by “Atomic Blond” helmer David Leitch, and Olivia Newman’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” with Daisy Edgar-Jones and David Strathairn.
Anna Gutto’s “Paradise Highway” packs star power as well, starring the likes of Morgan Freeman, “Captain America’s” Frank Grillo and Juliette Binoche, cast as a truck driver forced to smuggle illicit cargo to save her brother from a prison gang.
In an interview with Variety earlier this year, the French actor described the role as a “worthwhile challenge.”
“I never imagined I’d play a truck driver! I was drawn to incongruity and the prospect of embarking on a new adventure. As an actor it’s exciting not to know if you’ll be able to get back on your feet like a cat after a six-floor fall,” she said.
Among the 17 titles selected for Piazza Grande, 10 celebrate their world premieres, including “Everything About Martin Suter. Everything But the Truth” by André Schäfer, taking on a noted Swiss author; Michele Vannucci’s “Delta,” which Locarno chief Giona A. Nazzaro described as “a film of deep social engagement, rough-edged like the best films of Giuseppe De Santis”; and Sophie Marceau starrer “Un Femme de Notre Temps,” directed by Jean Paul Civeyrac.
Kilian Riedhof’s “You Will Not Have My Hate,” inspired by Antoine Leiris’ famous book, will show the aftermath of Paris’ Bataclan attacks.
“Antoine’s famous letter to the attackers refuses to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred, so it would have been wrong to give the perpetrators a platform within the plot, to display their violence in the interest of creating tension,” explained Riedhof.
“Our film shows the internal viewpoint of a man whose wife was murdered. This was the only conceivable approach for us to tell about the attack on the Bataclan.”
In another story based on true events, Blandine Lenoir will address pressing issues in her 1970s-set abortion drama “Angry Annie” with Laure Calamy, beloved for her spirited turn in “Call My Agent!” The film, picked up by Indie Sales, will mark their third collaboration.
In Locarno’s main competition, also composed of 17 titles, India’s Mahesh Narayanan will present “Declaration,” and Woo Ming Jin “Turtle Stone.” “In Between Dying” helmer Hilal Baydarov returns with “Sermon to the Fish.”
Producer Michel Merkt was named the president of the jury. He will be joined by director Laura Samani, producer William Horberg, “Censor” helmer Prano Bailey-Bond and Alain Guiraudie.
“Bowling Saturne” by Patricia Mazuy follows a police officer who inherits his family’s bowling business after his father’s death. Mazuy is no stranger to Locarno, having presented “Of Women and Horses” at the fest. She was also awarded for “All the Boys and Girls of Their Time.”
“This is a movie about the unconscious of a sick society, and about the heritage of the 20th century, which was full of savagery,” she said.
Zurich-born Valentin Merz will bring “De Noche Los Gatos Son Pardos,” which won Locarno’s Cinegrell First Look Award only last year. Helena Wittmann will talk up “Human Flowers of Flesh.” Billed as a “spellbinding and sensory cruise across the Mediterranean,” it will see a woman (Yorgos Lanthimos’ collaborator Angeliki Papoulia) living on a ship with her crew of five men when the French Foreign Legion attracts her attention.
“Il Pataffio” by Francesco Lagi, with Alessandro Gassmann and Valerio Mastandrea, promises to be a “very Italian, funny and daring Middle Age tale about hunger and freedom, sex and power,” stated The Match Factory.
Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov will present “Fairytale.” Back in February, the festival stated it won’t be boycotting Russian films following the invasion of Ukraine, arguing in a statement that “cinema is a voice for supporting diversity and creativity in all countries.”
Locarno artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro, now easing into his second edition at helm, teased the festival’s “broad, diversified and inclusive program.”
“As it marks its 75th anniversary, and true to its vocation of freedom, the festival offers a place to discover and debate film in all its forms. With a gaze always looking firmly to the future,” he noted.
The milestone year will be marked by numerous initiatives, including a new book by Lorenzo Buccella “Locarno On/Locarno Off: History and Stories of the Film Festival” and a collection of critical essays. Eleven high-profile Swiss and international filmmakers have made short films as part of the project “Postcards from the Future” and their works will be screened daily in Piazza Grande.
Among this year’s honorees, Kelly Reichardt will receive the Honorary Golden Pard, while actor Matt Dillon is set to collect a Lifetime Achievement Award. Gitanjali Rao, Jason Blum – granted the Best Independent Producer Award – Laurie Anderson and Costa-Gavras will also be honoured.
The 75th Locarno Film Festival runs Aug. 3-13. Profiles of some selected titles:
Dir. Blandine Lenoir
Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Lenoir’s latest – after 2017 “I Got Life!” with Agnès Jaoui – is bound to inspire some heated discussions. Set in 1974, it sees Laure Calamy’s Annie, a working mother of two, accidentally becoming pregnant again. After she meets with the Movement for the Liberation of Abortion and Contraception (MLAC), she decides to join their fight. Produced by Aurora Films and Local Films.
Dir. Patricia Mazuy
This French-Belgian co-production – and Mazuy’s fifth film – focuses on a police officer who inherits his family’s bowling business following the death of his father. He decides to forward the reigns to his half-brother, only to soon regret his decision. The film was produced by Patrick Sobelman for Ex Nihilo and co-produced by Les Films du Fleuve, owned by the Dardenne brothers. Totem Films is also on board.
“De Noche Los Gatos Son Pardos”
Dir. Valentin Merz
A crew is shooting a libertine costume film in the countryside when Valentin, the director, suddenly disappears. The investigation continues – but so does the film. Last year, Merz’s playful feature debut was awarded Locarno’s Cinegrell First Look Award for post-production service. The Le Film Français Award – an offer of advertising services – went to “Semret,” also set to be shown at the upcoming fest.The Open Reel handles sales.
Dir. Thomas Hardiman
Things are bound to get very weird in this murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing competition where, according to the synopsis, “extravagance and excess collide.” Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Clare Perkins and Darrell D’Silva star in Hardiman’s intriguing feature debut, produced by EMU Films Production. Acclaimed cinematographer Robbie Ryan, nominated for an Academy Award for his work on “The Favourite,” lenses the film. A Mubi release.
Dir. Anna Gutto
It took a Norway-born director to convince Juliette Binoche to play a female truck driver in this Piazza Grande thriller, also starring Morgan Freeman. Desperate to save her brother, she is ready for anything – until she finds out that the cargo she was supposed to be smuggling is actually alive and breathing. Boarded by Lionsgate, it was produced by Silver Reel and Strike Accord. Grindstone Entertainment Group is distributing.
“Serviam – I Will Serve”
Dir. Ruth Mader
Set in the 1980s, in an all-girl Catholic boarding school near Vienna for the wealthy Austrian elite, “Serviam” dives into the extremes of religion as one of the nuns is determined to right the wrongs of her young pupils. German-Romanian actress Maria Dragus, known for collaborations with Cristiain Mungiu, stars in the thriller. With Playtime on board, it was produced by epo-film and Ruth Mader Filmproduktion.
Dir. Woo Ming Jin
This Malaysian revenge thriller with Asmara Abigail, recently seen in “Yuni,” and Bront Palarae, is bound to go to some dark places, all the while marking yet another high-profile festival outing from director Woo Ming Jin, known for Venice’s “Woman on Fire Looks for Water” and Cannes’ “The Tiger Factory.” A Greenlight Pictures production, his first film, “Monday Morning Glory,” screened at Locarno as well.
“You Will Not Have My Hate”
Dir. Kilian Riedhof
Based on the international bestseller by Antoine Leiris, who decided to describe his own life story, Kilian Riedhof’s film – produced by Komplizen Film – shows a man trying to overcome grief and refusing to give in to hate following the Bataclan attack, which claimed the life of his wife. With “Stranger in the Lake” Pierre Deladonchamps cast as the lead, it boasts the participation of Beta Cinema, also behind Locarno’s “My Neighbor Adolf.”
2022 Locarno Lineup
“Alles Über Martin Suter. Ausser Die Wahrheit,” André Schäfer, Switzerland (Germany)
“Annie Colère,” Blandine Lenoir (France)
“Bullet Train,” David Leitch (U.S.)
“Compartiment Tueurs,” Costa-Gavras (France)
“Delta,” Michele Vannucci (Italy)
“Home of the Brave,” Laurie Anderson (U.S.)
“Imitation of Life,” Douglas Sirk (U.S.)
“Last Dance,” Delphine Lehericey (Switzerland, Belgium)
“Medusa Deluxe,” Thomas Hardiman (United Kingdom)
“My Neighbor Adolf,” Leon Prudovsky (Israel, Poland, Colombia)
“Paradise Highway,” Anna Gutto (U.S., Germany, Switzerland)
“Piano Piano,” Nicola Prosatore (Italy)
“Printed Rainbow,” Gitanjali Rao (India)
“Semret,” Caterina Mona (Switzerland)
“Une Femme de Notre Temps,” Jean Paul Civeyrac (France)
“Vous N’aurez pas ma Haine,” Kilian Riedhof (Germany, France, Belgium)
“Where the Crawdads Sing,” Olivia Newman (U.S.)
“Ariyippu (Declaration),” Mahesh Narayanan (India)
“Baliqlara Xütbə” (Sermon to the Fish), Hilal Baydarov (Azerbaijan, Mexico, Switzerland, United Kingdom)
“Bowling Saturne,” Patricia Mazuy (France, Belgium)
“De noche los gatos son pardos,” Valentin Merz (Switzerland)
“Gigi la Legge,” Alessandro Comodin (Italy, France, Belgium)
“Hikayat Elbeit Elorjowani” (Tales of the Purple House), Abbas Fahdel (Lebanon, Iraq, France)
“Human Flowers of Flesh,” Helena Wittmann (Germany, France)
“Il Pataffio,” Francesco Lagi (Italy, Belgium)
“Matter Out of Place,” Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Austria)
“Nação Valente” (Tommy Guns), Carlos Conceição (Portugal, France, Angola)
“Piaffe,” Ann Oren (Germany)
“Regra 34” (Rule 34),” Julia Murat (Brazil, France)
“Serviam – I Will Serve,” Ruth Mader (Austria)
“Skazka” (Fairytale), Aleksandr Sokurov (Belgium, Russia)
“Stella est amoureuse,” Sylvie Verheyde (France)
“Stone Turtle,” Ming Jin Woo (Malaysia)
“Tengo sueños eléctricos,” Valentina Maurel (Belgium, France, Costa Rica)