12:19 PM PDT 8/15/2012 by Georg Szalai, Eric J. Lyman
The 65th edition of the Locarno film festival in the lakeside city in Switzerland once again drew a crowd, including acting and directing talent from different parts of the world. Here is THR's look at some of the big names, including Harry Belafonte, Alain Delon and Charlotte Rampling, who attended the event.
French veteran and sex symbol Alain Delon was among the stars who traveled to the lakeside Swiss film festival for its 65th edition. He received the life achievement award in Locarno. To the delight of his fans, he also discussed his career during a press conference.
The noted Thai auteur was in Locarno to head the international jury, which earned praise for some of its out-of-the-box prize selections. In addition to Brisseau’s The Girl From Nowhere, the jury honored a couple of unexpected actors - China’s An Nai for her understated role as a killer’s mother in Wo hai you hua yao shuo (When Night Falls) and Austrian actor Walter Saabel in just his second major acting role in Der Glanz des Tages.
The 66-year-old U.K. actress won the Locarno Excellence Award just like Gael Garcia Bernal. The festival also screened Barnady Southcombe's film I Anna, Rampling's latest, out of competition. The festival praised Rampling as “an enigmatic and fascinating actress whose unique magnetism and beauty have graced several landmarks of contemporary cinema.”
Gael Garcia Bernal
At just 33, the Mexico-born Garcia Bernal was one of the youngest actors to earn a career prize at a major festival when he was given Locarno’s Excellence Award. The diminutive actor, who reportedly stands just 5-foot-6, made reference to that when he told the Piazza Grande crowd: “I still have a lot of room to grow…perhaps not in terms of height, but in terms of acting and experience.”
Belafonte charmed Locarno audiences wherever he spoke, with impassioned explanations of racism he once faced in Hollywood, his relationship with director Otto Preminger (the subject of Locarno’s main retrospective this year), the need for activism, pop culture and politics. When he received his lifetime achievement prize in the Piazza Grande sparked a standing ovation.
Brisseau’s self-financed La fille de nulle part (The Girl From Nowhere) was not on many radar screens heading into the Locarno Film Festival, but the film Brisseau wrote, directed, produced, and starred in turned a lot of heads with its simple, but compelling stor line. The $90,000 cash prize that came with winning Locarno’s Golden Leopard prize was more than enough to pay for the film’s expenses.
The Locarno festival this year also honored Hong Kong director and producer Johnnie To with a lifetime achievement award. Part of the award presentation was lost in translation. When asked how he managed to always make his home so “beautiful, exciting and poetic, To’s translated answer was that he was happy to be in Locarno. But the 57-year-old also promised to return to the Swiss festival in the future with one of his films.
The enigmatic and reclusive French auteur was given Locarno’s top achievement prize, the Leopard of Honor. Carax stopped making full-length films for 13 years, and once he started again, with Holy Motors, Locarno was just his second stop, after Cannes, where the film premiered. His Master Class session was very well received, and the director even seemed to crack a smile during his award presentation.
Locarno featured an Otto Preminger retrospective, among other things. Part of it was a screening of Bonjour Tristesse, a dark love story. Mylene Demongeot, 76, who played Elsa in the film, a key supporting role, provided an introduction that many attendees wanted to catch. Said Demongeot: "This film is like a great wine that gets better as it gets older."
The Swiss festival's 65th edition also feted Mali director and screenwriter Souleymane Cisse. The 72-year-old teared up when talking about the bloody war in his home country and asking those in attendance to observe a moment of silence to honor the dead. Cisse said that Locarno was the first festival to honor him for a 40-year career, in which he directed just seven films.