Locarno Film Festival: 5 Things Not to Miss

Piazza Grande
Reto Albertalli/AFP/Getty Images

Locarno's vast open-space screening area the Piazza Grande will welcome several current Hollywood films including J.J. Abrams' "Super 8,"  Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis comedy "Friends With Benefits" and "Cowboys & Aliens."

With the 67th edition kicking off Wednesday, here are the must-see events to hit.

The 67th edition of the Locarno Film Festival opens Wednesday, welcoming guests from all over the world to its idyllic lakeside setting in Switzerland.

The fest is known for its laidback manner, encouraging attendees to get up close and personal with the filmmakers coming into town. The true star of the fest is the Piazza Grande, which hosts nightly outdoor screenings on one of the biggest screens in Europe for audiences of up to 8,000. The experience of watching a film outdoors on a summer night with thousands of other cinema lovers creates an immersive experience that many attendees rave about.

Artistic director Carlo Chatrian is not reinventing any wheel this year, but simply striving to offer top-notch programming from past to present. “The goal is always to have the very best films we can, the films that can better represent the world we live in," he told The Hollywood Reporter. 

STORY Roman Polanski to Receive Honor at Locarno Film Festival

Chatrian describes his lineup as a current “map of cinema,” marking important trends from different times and places in film history.

Here are 5 stand-out events this year:


Titanus was Italy’s answer to MGM and 20th Century Fox, a monumental studio that has produced some of the country’s best films since the post-war era. Whether in production or distribution, it’s impossible to trace the history of Italian cinema without finding Titanus along every stop of the way.

Films necessary to revisit include: Luigi Comencini’s Bread, Love and Dreams, Federico Fellini’s Il Bidone, Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard, and Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, to be introduced by the maestro himself.

Locarno marks the first stop for the retrospective, which will then travel on to numerous international stops, including the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, the American Cinematheque and the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. 


Locarno is bound to no festival politics, loyalty to directors or distributor agendas. “Compared to Cannes and Venice, the Locarno competition lineup is more daring,” says Chatrian. “We try to experiment on another scale with what you can do with cinema."

He added: "I believe that cinema is the best tool man created to describe the society we live in. The directors we have this year in competition, represent in a very strong way the human condition.”

Films not to be missed this year include Alex Ross Perry’s Sundance hit, Listen Up Philip, Yury Bykov’s exploration of Russian corruption, The Fool, and Syllas Tzoumerkas’ black comedy/drama A Blast, set during Greece’s financial crisis.

STORY Locarno Fest Unveils Competition Lineup, Will Honor Mia Farrow, Juliette Binoche


What would cinema be today without the iconic scenes of Danny riding his tricycle through The Shining’s Overlook Hotel, Rocky triumphantly running through the streets of Philadelphia, or Jake La Motta entering the ring in Raging Bull? They all have one thing in common, Garrett Brown and his invention of the Steadicam.

With the Vision Award, Locarno puts equal weight on those behind the camera as those in front of it, honoring those whose innovations helped changed the history of filmmaking. Brown will conduct a masterclass, sharing the secrets behind the creation of his invention, the first of its kind to allow shooting fluid movement with a stable image.

Brown holds over 50 patents for devices, including the wire-suspended Skycam, which has also changed the way major sporting events are filmed today.


The Industry Days at Locarno have an unwritten no-suits policy. Yes, deals are made and films are sold, but the atmosphere is more about authentic networking inside an actual cinema.

Each year the festival aims to bring together great minds to tackle the industry’s most pressing issues. StepIn is an exchange platform to discuss new strategies for distribution, exhibition and sales of independent cinema. Since 2012, StepIn has focused on the specific challenges of distribution and exhibition of arthouse cinema on a global scale. International sales agents, distributors, exhibitors and funders will be presented with a series of issues and then will break into small working groups to brainstorm possible solutions to test out in the years ahead.

Some say it’s a better takeaway than a business card.

STORY Locarno Film Fest Picks Venice Winner Gianfranco Rossi, Rutger Hauer to Head Juries


This year, Locarno has a wealth of honorees coming into town, including actors Juliette BinocheMia Farrow and Armin Mueller-Stahl. And toward the end of the fest, director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner, will make a guest appearance to screen their Venus in Fur.

Polanski will be presented with a special Leopard award and will teach a masterclass for guests of the festival and the young filmmakers of the Locarno Summer Academy. The man behind Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, will share knowledge and insights learned over his 60-year plus career in what is guaranteed to be a packed house.

Twitter: @Aristonla