Locarno Film Festival Honorees Celebrate Cinema at the Extremes

Jason Blum, Kelly Reichardt, Laurie Anderson and Costa-Gavras cover cinema from the most avant-garde experimental arthouse to the most subversive Hollywood genre films.

From its first edition back in 1946, Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival been dedicated to celebrating the extremes of filmmaking, from the most avant-garde experimental through cutting-edge arthouse and political cinema to best of the Hollywood genre movies.

The filmmaking quartet that Locarno has picked this year for its achievement honors is a near-perfect reflection of this approach.

Here is a closer look at them.

Jason Blum

Jason Blum ©Gage Skidmore

With his Blumhouse Production outfit, American producer Jason Blum pioneered and mastered a model of combining strict budget control (typically under $5 million per film) with tremendous creative freedom to produce global horror franchises, including Paranormal Activity, The Purge and Insidious, as well as fostering a new generation of directing talent, backing such debut features as Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, both of which earned Blum an Oscar nomination for best picture. Much studied, never equalled, the Blumhouse model remains the gold standard for indie filmmaking worldwide.

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Blum will receive Locarno’s best independent producer award on Aug. 6, followed by a Blumhouse double feature made up of Get Out (2017) and Split (2016).

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Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson @Ebru-Yildiz

A multimedia artist as famous for her music (O Superman), poetry and collaborations with William S. Burroughs, John Cage and her late husband Lou Reed, as for her documentary films (Heart of a Dog, Home of the Brave), Anderson is this year’s winner of Locarno’s Vision Award, meant to highlight an artist whose creative work “has contributed to renew the cinematographic imaginary.” Anderson represents the kind of eclectic, avant-garde performer Locarno has long been proud to provide its biggest stage to.

Anderson will receive Locarno’s Vision Award on Aug. 10. The festival will also screen Heart of a Dog (2015) and a 4K restored version of Home of the Brave (1986).


Costa-Gavras @KG-Productions

For nearly 60 years, the Greek-French director has been at the forefront of political-activist cinema. From his 1969 best international Oscar winner Z, tracing the Greek military’s coup d’etat, and the 1982 thriller Missing, about Augusto Pinochet’s brutal rule in Chile, which earned a best-screenplay Oscar for Costa-Gavras and co-writer Donald E. Stewart, to his 2019 drama Adults in the Room, about the 2015 economic crisis in Greece, he has drawn attention to political topics. Costa-Gavras is, in the words of Locarno artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro, “the embodiment of a truly noble idea of cinema as a tool for progress and knowledge, the heir to every director who tells a story they hope will make a difference.”

Costa-Gavras will receive Locarno’s lifetime achievement honor on Aug. 11. The festival will screen his seldom-seen first two films: The Sleeping Car Murders (1965) and Shock Troops (1967)

Kelly Reichardt

Kelly Reichardt Courtesy-of-David-Godlis

American director Kelly Reichardt has quietly built up a canon of work that includes such seminal films as Old Joy (2006), Wendy and Lucy (2008), Night Moves (2013) and Locarno 2020 opening night film First Cow that have cemented her reputation as the arthouse auteur’s arthouse auteur. Locarno’s Leopard of Honor, an award that has gone to the likes of Ken Loach, Agnès Varda, Werner Herzog and Jean-Luc Godard, seems overdue.

Reichardt will receive her Locarno Leopard of Honor on Aug. 13, and the festival will screen two of her stand-out movies: Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Night Moves (2013).