News  ·  01 | 03 | 2022

My Locarno, Where Everything Is Possible

Vito Manolo Roma, a 40-year-old illustrator based in Milan, tells us how he came up with the image outlining Locarno75: a surrealist exhibit, a love for the 1960s, and the wish to widen visual horizons.

The illustration was born in the 1920s, harkens back to the 1960s, and deals with a time where everything is possible. As of today, Locarno75 has a visual identity, with a classic profile and an undoubtedly new gaze. The image, with which Vito Manolo Roma won over the jury of the 2022 contest, sums up the infinite levels of cinema on a single page. “For the entire duration of the contest, I worked on one concept”, says Roma, who was born in 1982 and is perhaps best described as an illustrator. “And then, 48 hours before the deadline, I switched it all up, I put aside the original idea and worked on a new one, which went on to win.”

What led to the switch?
An exhibit, and my style. I was going back to Milan from Turin, where I had attended an Italian Surrealism exhibit, and that’s when it hit me, I should work on something that was more “me”, my style. So that’s the image, which is deeply mine, and less of a commission. I really appreciate that the Festival embraced and respected it when the time came to discuss its practical implementation. Honestly, I had no expectations, I had to keep them in check. And when I saw there were over a thousand submissions, what little expectation I had vanished. And then…

It's a completely new design, compared to the last few decades’ worth of Locarno posters. People will talk about it.
Before participating, I went over the Festival’s poster gallery, and seeing that graphic design and typeface made me want to work on the illustration itself. If there will be discussions surrounding it, I’m curious to see what shape they take. Certainly, an auteur poster, if we want to call it that, is something that brings prestige to those who decide to use it. It can be a nice story, perhaps a little off the beaten track compared to the classic film festival poster.


It's a landscape I built around a surreal atmosphere where everything is possible. Just like at the movies.

How would you describe it to the public?
«The neat thing about illustrations is, they open up the doors of imagination. With mine, I wanted to use the leopard, who takes off their hat to greet the audience and inaugurate the Festival, but also the Pardino, the smaller one. And the Piazza Grande icons, the booth with its ray of light, and the screen. And the eye, which is a director, a viewer. It’s cinema. A tear generates an optical illusion, it breaks lines and contributes to the creation of this landscape I built around a surreal atmosphere where everything is possible. Just like at the movies.»

What’s your relationship with cinema?
«I’m not a cinephile, I’m not that knowledgeable, and I don’t watch contemporary stuff: I’m always in the past, discovering films from the previous century without ever giving in to newer titles. In high school, I was impressed by Surrealism and Expressionism, and I think my image has those influences. Look at the shadows, for example… Generally speaking, I’m in love with the 1950s and ‘60s. It’s an age where everything one could do was done, and to a degree they created eternity, as in images and worlds that do not age. I think it was a creative moment fueled by the perfect mixture of passion, skill, respect, tools, and freedom. I always go back to that time, revisiting the archive I’ve put together over the years.»

Have you ever been to Locarno?
«Never. I’m thrilled to do it this year, in such a strange manner: it’s my first time, and I’ll be on display everywhere. A double first time, because I’ve never seen my work like that before.»

If you could choose, what film would you show in Piazza Grande?
«Bresson’s Pickpocket [editor’s note: it played in Locarno in 1983 as part of the Alain Tanner Carte Blanche].»

What is a poster?
«A format within which precise elements – typeface and illustration – must coexist to create an image that sums up a universe. But it has to go beyond that. It has to connect with the receptors of the viewer and stay there, summoning other worlds of imagination.»

There it is, the Locarno Film Festival.

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