Locarno: 'A Land Imagined' Wins Golden Leopard

A LAND IMAGINED - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Films de Force Majeure

International guests at the 71st edition of the fest included Meg Ryan, Ethan Hawke, Bruno Dumont and Kyle Cooper.

Director Yeo Siew Hua on Saturday took home the coveted top prize at the 71st edition of Locarno International Film Festival, winning the Golden Leopard for his film A Land Imagined.

The film follows a lonely construction worker from China who goes missing in Singapore after forming a virtual friendship with a mysterious online gamer and a police investigator who uncovers much more than he bargained for in order to find him.

Among other awards in the main competition, filmmaker Yolande Zauberman won the special jury prize for M; Dominga Sotomayor was named best director for Tarde Para Morir Joven; helmer Richard Billingham earned a special mention for Ray & Liz; Andra Guti received best actress honors for Radu Muntean's Alice T.; and Ki Joo-bong took home the best actor prize for Hong Sangsoo's Hotel by the River

In the Filmmakers of the Present competition, Sara Fattahi earned best film honors for Chaos, and the special jury prize went to Nicole Vogele for Closing Time.

In Signs of Life competition, the best film award went to Lin Zi for The Fragile House, while the prize for best first feature went to Eva Trobisch for Alles Ist Gut

Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman won the Prix du Public. 

"Held in extremely high temperatures, Locarno71 was a rich and diversified edition, just as it is in the tradition of a festival which is not afraid to approach extremes and to combine a smile with reflection," said artistic director Carlo Chatrian of his sixth and final festival before heading to take over the Berlinale. 

He continued: "In the aesthetic search for a form suited to a rapidly changing actuality, where images seem omnipresent, the award-winning films tell of a world where man is still the measure of all things. With 12 award-winning women — among two Swiss directors — out of 25 awards, the 71st edition confirmed that Locarno is a festival where one plans the future."

Nearly 300 films were shown over the course of the event, with 18 shown in the giant Piazza Grande outdoor cinema in front of 8,000 spectators and 15 in total in the international competition. Among the festival guests who met with the audience were Meg Ryan, Ethan Hawke, Bruno Dumont and Kyle Cooper. 

Paolo Taviani also gave a moving tribute to his brother Vittorio, who died in April, with a screening of 1987's Good Morning, Babylon, which was written and directed by the filmmaker siblings.

The festival concluded with a screening in the Piazza Grande of the closing film I Feel Good by Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern. 

The 72nd Locarno Festival is set to run Aug. 7-17, 2019.