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Lili Hinstin is already making history as Locarno festival’s second-ever female artistic director. As the festival’s 13th solo director, she follows Carlo Chatrian, who is taking over the Berlinale with Mariette Rissenbeek as co-chairs to replace outgoing Berlin boss Dieter Kosslick.
Hinstin comes to the Swiss festival originally from Paris. She previously ran the Entrevues Belfort Festival International du Film in France since 2013. Her wide-ranging cinema experience also includes production company Les Films du Saut du Tigre, running all film-related activities of the Academy of France in Rome and serving as deputy artistic director of the International Film Festival Cinema du Reel.
Locarno recently signed onto the Programming Pledge for Parity and Cinema Festivals, introduced by the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network, making it the second A-list festival after Cannes to sign on and agreeing to transparency in submissions, selection committees and reaching parity in executive leadership as soon as possible.
But Hinstin, whose appointment already puts Locarno on the path to those goals, believes that simply achieving gender parity is not enough. One of her main areas of focus while running Locarno next year will also be to work toward expanding diversity issues to address any under-represented communities.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Hinstin about her plans for the fest, what she believes needs to change and why she doesn’t expect Venice to aim for gender equality anytime soon.
How would you define your curatorial style?
I will work in the same artistic direction all of my Locarno predecessors have worked in, to support and work with daring art house cinema. I’ve been working on the discovery of young directors since my first programming work in Rome, and I think this is also in the DNA of Locarno.
What does it mean to you to be one of only a handful of women holding the top position at a film festival, to have the final say in which films will ultimately be shown to audiences?
As a woman I’m very proud and happy. I am also a mother. I think I’m one of the first generations of women working in this area who have let themselves do both things because often women directors didn’t have children. I think my generation benefits from all of the feminists’ struggles. I was able, when I was 30, to consider both things without any problem. And I did it. I was appointed as director of Belfort, and it was really possible to do both things in a wonderful way and I’m really proud of this.
Locarno is the second A-level festival after Cannes to sign the Programming Pledge for Parity and Inclusion in Cinema Festivals. Have you already started thinking about how to implement this?
As a woman, I really feel that this movement has to be clearly and definitely open to any kind of diversity. For me it’s not just about men and women. It’s about minorities in a political sense and the representation of people who are socially weaker than others. So it’s very important for women but also for people of color.
I think it’s one of the more important tasks of a festival director to work on this. There were 10 tributes in Locarno this year, and nine were for white men. Locarno has the ability to represent the world geographically, and we have the ability to open the festival geographically.
Do festival directors have a responsibility to promote more women directors?
I think as a festival director our first target is quality, creation, to have surprising and interesting films. In France it’s almost 50/50, the production, for men and women. I’m confident we will find many beautiful films by women. That’s important. We have to work to give access to people who don’t have access to that. That’s the next important struggle. All of our important industry projects, that’s the next level. We have the Locarno Academies to develop the next filmmakers, critics and industry leaders. We must work to develop more projects for young people.
What other changes would you like to see in Locarno?
I would like to include, of course, new technological ways of creating visual languages, like VR cinema narratives. I think we have to consider any kind of cinema creation — Netflix, Amazon, all the new producers, TV serials — any type of innovation.
What are your thoughts on Venice refusing to sign the Festival Parity Pledge?
Frankly, I used to work in Italy for many years. In Italy, if you’re not a man, aged at least 70 years old, you don’t get access to any responsibility. I think it’s totally a cultural issue. I think they’re not ready, and they don’t have the history to understand it. It’s a pity for them.
Now that women, in a sure way, are getting access to big responsibility, yes, I believe things are going to change. The #MeToo movement is really, really getting things to change. It was a profound, important movement, and I think we have to be at the edge of it and include other important minorities. I think like in any culture they just need to open themselves to a different way of thinking, but frankly I don’t know how a whole society can change. I believe it’s going to be up to the Italian women to change it.
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