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Designed to foster the skills of emerging talents in cinema, the Locarno Academy is a professional training project from the Locarno Film Festival for young filmmakers, critics and film industry professionals.
Each edition of the Academy offers participants a chance to meet and liaise with major contemporary filmmakers, have their writing published in leading international film criticism journals, and gain in-depth insights from top industry experts on programming and distribution strategies.
The Locarno Academy is growing in scope and impact year by year, thanks to the input from its young talents and prestigious guests. During Locarno75 the three training programs hosted a total of 40 participants from 23 countries worldwide, including Switzerland. Among them were trainees who published articles in some of the highest-profile film magazines, others who picked up tips and tricks that would help them gain notice in preparing their next feature, and others again who were able to learn one-on-one from personalities of the caliber of Alexander Sokurov, Helena Wittmann, Laurie Anderson. The Locarno experience turned out to be a steppingstone to major achievements at international level for many of those involved: director Elie Grappe, for instance, went on from the Academy to make his debut feature Olga, Switzerland’s entry for the 2022 Academy Awards. Another Filmmakers Academy alumnus from Switzerland, Cyril Schäublin, was a winner at this year’s Berlinale (Encounters Award) with his film Unrest (Unrueh ). Numerous other success stories feature international young filmmakers, as for example Marcelo Martinessi from Paraguay, winner of best short film at Venice in 2016 and the Silver Bear in Berlin in 2018; Rina Tsou from Taiwan and Christos Massalas from Greece, both selected for the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes; Sameh Alaa from Egypt, winner of the Golden Palm for best short film at Cannes 2020; U.S. director Reinaldo Marcus Green, an Oscar nominee in 2022.
During the workshops of the Locarno Academy one's idea of cinema inevitably changes, gets enriched, and becomes more nuanced by the workshops and conversations with the diverse group of international guests. Yet, Locarno Academy has an even more enduring quality. It allows the participant to engage with others who share a perception of cinema in the most intense and free way possible.
My experience at the Critics Academy and the Locarno Film Festival has rejuvenated and injected hope into my relationship with film criticism. For the first time I felt properly valued as a critic. The 11 days were a kind of utopia, as I could feel the value that the festival gives to critics; recognizes its importance in encouraging the Critics Academy, inviting great names of film criticism, and in the daily treatment and care for professional critics.