In August 2019, the travel allowance bestowed by German Films allowed us to travel to Locarno to participate at the 72th edition of Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. We were there for the world premiere of 'Black Sun' as some of the team: Julia Tielke the cinematographer and co-scriptwriter, Enes Yurdaün the lead actor, Alara Hamamcıoğlu and Öykü Canlı the producers.
Approaching from afar through serpentine roads, Locarno seems to emerge as a part of a tropical habitat with its robust trees, the looming clouds and the pressure of August humidity. It seems to have got more humid and hotter over the years --and rainier. The most of our three-days stay coincided with pouring rain. Perhaps a frequent grumble during the festival to the extent that people were surprised to hear I missed some films because of the rain bucketed down, all the same a tip for the future visitors. Even there was a time, caught in the middle of the rain, where we realized there's no sense escaping it and we let ourselves soaked with shoes off. It was warm and it was a joy, though a brief one that lasted until I felt the symptoms of a cold under my skin during the return trip.
One of the most established festivals in Europe, Locarno asserted itself over the period which might be started with the era of the artistic director Olivier Pere together with the programming team as the meeting point of a cinema, both young and old, that dares. The past years of Locarno brought us some of the finest films of the last decade, all the while preserving a delicate balance between exhibiting new tendencies of cinema together keeping up with the commercial allure of Piazza Grande films.
This year’s edition was much anticipated in terms of the arrival of the new artistic director, Lili Hirstin, and her programming team, all of whom proved to give a fete of good programming of a sophisticated selection. Long or short, the festival enjoyed the presence of films by filmmakers such as Pedro Costa, Ben Rivers, Manon Coubia, among others.
The sections of the festival included the Piazza Grande screenings where a right combination of films with popular appeal are combined and where, for example, Jean Luc Godard’s “Lettre à freddy buache”, a letter addressed to the late Freddy Buache, inaugurated the opening ceremony this year. Other sections were the International Competition which included a film that can't go unmentioned in a text like this, “Vitalina Verala” by Pedro Costa, a film that left its lasting mark to be carried for the future, the Filmmakers of the present which showcases a strong selection of today's cinema, Moving Ahead which exhibits the more experimental tendencies of our nowadays, and Pardi di Domani, the short section with international and Swiss titles, and other special sections and retrospectives. The programming team of Pardi di Domani were welcoming and attentive, each of them radiating with a certain receptivity for every selected film.
More on the tips that perhaps would be of use in such a travel report: the town can be expensive. The nearby rivers are gorgeous and worth a visit. One place that sticks me is a pizzeria that a dear film critic once took me of which I funnily can't remember the name now. It was at the end of the steep road that starts from the exit of a screening venue with red carpet (was it Grand Rex? No), one that runs in between hazy yellow buildings to arrive at a middle-sized square calmer than the center with a running fountain (is it Locarno Garden? No). It's usually packed, but the pizzas are nice.