Lucrecia Martel's 'Chocobar', Mari Alessandrini's 'Zahori' Win at Locarno

Locarno 2020 Film Festival Winners
@Locarno Film Festival

Two female directors take top honors at the 2020 Locarno Film Festival for films they were forced to delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucrecia Martel and Mari Alessandrini have taken top honors at this year's Locarno International Film Festival, winning the Pardi 2020 awards for best film, respectively, in the international and Swiss film categories.

Martel's Crocobar, a political documentary inspired by the 2000 murder of land rights activist Javier Chocobar, which examines issues of colonization and native culture, won over the international jury of U.S. director Kelly Reichardt, Lesotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese and Israeli director Nadav Lapid. The $77,000 (CHF 70,000) in prize money will go to help complete the production which, like all the projects selected for this year's Locarno selection, were forced to halt production due to the coronavirus crisis.

Alessandrini's Zahori, which follows an unlikely friendship between a 13-year-old Swiss girl and an elder Mapuche native of the Patagonian Steppe,was judged best Swiss title in Locarno's Films After Tomorrow line-up of in-development features.

Other Locarno winners included Miguel Gomes' Savagery, a look at the 19th century military campaign by the newly-formed Brazilian Republic against the tiny native settlement of Canudos, which won the Campari Award—with its $50,000 (CHF 50,000) bursary — and Verena Paravel and Lucien-Castaing Taylor's philosophical documentary The Fabric of the Human Body, an examination of the bioethical issues raised by new medical technologies, which picked up The Swatch Award, and $33,000 (CHF 30,000) in funding to complete production. The SRG SSR Award, which comes with TV advertising campaign valued at $110,000 (CHF 100,000) to promote the film's release in Switzerland, went to Lux, a documentary about the Swiss army by young filmmakers Raphael Dubach and Mateo Ybarra.

Locarno adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic by combining an in-person film festival for locals in the Swiss city with an online program for Swiss and international fans. While there were no huge crowds for public screenings at the festival's iconic Piazza Grande, Locarno stayed true to its indie ethos and extended support for filmmakers and arthouse theaters hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

By this time next year, Locarno hopes to be back to business as usual. The 74th Locarno Film Festival is set to run August 4-14, 2021.