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    Locarno Continues to be a Home from Home for Films from Germany

    By Martin Blaney | August 25, 2010

    Artistic director Olivier Père applauding Franceso Rosi as he receives his Career Achievement Award, courtesy Festival del Film Locarno

    Artistic director Olivier Père applauding Franceso Rosi as he receives his Career Achievement Award, courtesy Festival del Film Locarno

    The change of Locarno Film Festival’s artistic director from Frédéric Maire to Frenchman Olivier Père this year didn’t see any great change in the festival’s traditional support for films from Germany or made with German partners.

    No less than four of the 18 titles selected by Père for the International Competition were produced with German involvement: ranging from the world premieres of Benedek Fliegauf’s first English language film Womb, Pia Marais’ second feature At Ellen’s Age, and Serbian filmmaker Oleg Novkovic’s White White World to the international premiere of Bruce LaBruce’s L.A. Zombie, co-produced by Berlin-based Jürgen Bruning.

    In addition, the nightly open-air programme on Locarno’s Piazza Grande presented the international premiere of Baran bo Odar’s thriller The Silence, with Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Katrin Sass and Burghart Klaussner (which had its world premiere at the Filmfest München), Marvin Kren’s debut feature and Max Ophüls Preis winner Rammbock about zombies taking over the streets of Berlin, and Eran Riklis’ new feature The Human Resources Manager which was made as an Israeli-German- French co-production.

    Moreover, a total of some 10,000 festival-goers are reported to have attended the screenings of the films in the festival’s retrospective dedicated to Ernst Lubitsch, which is now being staged over the following weeks by the Cinematheque suisse in Lausanne and the Cinematheque francaise in Paris.
    While the top prize, the Golden Leopard, was awarded for the second year in a row to a Chinese filmmaker (Winter Vacation by Li Hongqi), two of the German competition films were also recognised: the International Jury named Jasna Duricic Best Actress for her role in White White World – which was also named Best Film by the association of international arthouse cinemas CICAE – and the festival’s Junior Jury awarded its „Environment is quality of life“ Prize to Benedek Fliegauf’s Womb.

    Meanwhile, the UBS Audience Award went to The Human Resources Manager, and two prizes went to Anthony Vouardoux’s Swiss-German co-produced short Yuri Lennon’s Landing On Alpha 46 which was competing in the Leopards of Tomorrow competition.

    Apart from streamlining the programme and making various personnel changes, Olivier Père also saw his first edition launching a pilot project, the Locarno Summer Academy to foster an exchange of knowledge between the generations “and thus sustain the flow of new blood into film, in Switzerland and abroad.”

    The initiative, which was organised in collaboration with Lugano’s Swiss Italian University Film Summer School, received so many applications that the organisers had to increase the number of selected participants from 20 to 30 to attend presentations given by producer Peter Rommel, filmmaker Maren Ade and her producer Janine Jackowski and Georges Goldenstern of Cannes’ Cinefondation.

    The participants came from as far away as the Philippines, Lebanon and the USA as well throughout Europe (including the film schools in Ludwigsburg, Munich and Babelsberg). The general verdict at the end of the week’s programme was that the young people had been able to make useful contacts for the future and could be returning to the festival one day with completed projects that they have made together.

    While the films were naturally the focus of this year’s edition, Locarno nevertheless provided the ideal venue for parties and other social events held in swiss restaurants and on hotel terraces over the 11 days: for example, the Hans Ringier Foundation’s “Diner républicain” was held for the 35th time and attended by such figures as ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet and Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick before the Piazza Grande screening of the US film Cyrus on the first weekend.

    More information about the 63rd edition of the Festival del Film Locarno can be found at http://www.pardo.ch

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