Welcome to the Locarno Film Festival
Cinema is images that create feelings that create ideas

We couldn’t better define the core of what we do than film director Sergei Eisenstein did.

Locarno Film Festival was born in the aftermath of the Second World War. It offered a stage for revival, freedom of art and expression for talents from all over the world eager to tell stories in new, different ways. Since its inception, Locarno has been home to the most daring, avant-garde, irreverent and innovative forms of films – screened in their uncut, uncensored versions.

Why do we do this? And why does it matter?

Cinema is complete art capable of influencing a life, shifting a way of thinking. It hits you with intense emotions and truth. It brings to life human complexity, extraordinary or devastating stories, testimonies from another continent that reshape our participation in the world. 

Every year since 1946, we present international independent films carefully selected to inspire you, to surprise you, to make you question assumptions, to open your mind, to push you. By showing films at the cutting edge, we nurture bold talents as well as creativity; we share authentic, powerful stories; we enable films to get made and careers to be launched. We write important chapters in film history and we shape the future of cinema.

What can I expect at Locarno?

Locarno Film Festival is an adventure. It is a pilgrimage to an ephemeral world entirely dedicated to film, art, and imagination. Nestled in the mountains beside a lake, our remote Swiss-Italian town fully dons the festival colors – the Leopard’s black and yellow – for an intense 11-day celebration of cinema. The festival offers over 450 screenings, talks, events, conferences, concerts, art exhibitions, parties (and so much more!), all located within a walk, a short bike ride or a short bus trip from each other. 

Every evening, 8,000 people gather on the Piazza Grande, Europe’s largest outdoor film venue, to watch film premieres under the stars on a massive screen. Thousands of film lovers all gasping in the same breath, laughing at the same joke, sobbing at a character’s misfortune… This ultimate experience of cinema is extraordinary and impossible to replicate anywhere else.

A Leopard in the Alps?!
The Pardo d'oro (Golden Leopard) is our Grand Prize. It rewards the best film in the Concorso internazionale. Considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world of independent cinema, the Pardo d'oro is a pledge of outstanding quality and excellence. It brings significant recognition and attention from the industry but also from international filmmakers and cinephiles. It can launch or boost a career, and sometimes even change the history of cinema.

I’ve never seen anything like this!

What we care about
  • Showing the best quality of independent film and audiovisual art.
  • Being a place of discovery, exchange, discussion, creativity, integrity, and freedom.
  • Leading an on-going conversation on the future of cinema and the overall audiovisual landscape.
  • Training young professionals and creatives who feel the urge to bring a story to life
  • Growing the most knowledgeable community of independent filmmakers, film critics, industry professionals, and cinephiles throughout the year.
  • Educating and sharing with the audiences of tomorrow.

And most importantly: YOU. Film lovers. Our audience. We strive to help you appreciate the value of being challenged, of expanding your worldview, and of being inspired. We are convinced that the remarkable films we bring to Locarno from all five continents encourage a crucial understanding between cultures and between humans. For a better future.

The talents we’ve given visibility right here, among whom

Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Kathryn Bigelow, Aleksandr Sokurov, Abbas Kiarostami, Raúl Ruiz, Kimberly Peirce, Miloš Forman, Marco Bellocchio, Lina Wertmüller, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Brillante Mendoza, Alain Guiraudie, Dominga Sotomayor, Ciro Guerra, Rungano Nyoni, Anahí Berneri, Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel, Chloé Robichaud, ...

What makes us proud

Our freedom of choices

We live up to our reputation of showcasing bold films that we believe in, regardless of censorship or controversy. Past examples include, movies:

Roma Cittá Aperta (Rome, Open City)
Roberto Rosselini
Il grido(The Outcry)
Michelangelo Antonioni
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Pier Paolo Pasolini
L.A. Zombie
Bruce LaBruce

In the 1970’s especially, we pushed controversial films that reflected a sea change in sexual mores and other contemporary social topics, such as movies

Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim)
François Truffaut
Berliner Bettwurst (The Berlin Bed Sausage)
Rosa von Praunheim
Le Dernier tango à Paris (Last Tango in Paris)
Bernardo Bertolucci
Storie scellerate (Bawdy Tales)
Sergio Citti
The Devil in Miss Jones
Gerard Damiano
A Bigger Splash
Jack Hazan
Contes immoraux (Immoral Tales)
Walerian Borowczyk
Derek Jarman & Paul Humfress
愛のコリーダ (In the Realm of the Senses)
"Nagisa Ōshima

During the Cold War, we also have been highly criticized for giving space and visibility to movies from beyond the Iron Curtain, such as movies

Иван Грозный, Ivan Grozniy (Ivan the Terrible)
Sergei Eisenstein
Na arene tsirka (In the Circus Arena)
Leonid Varlamov
Летят журавли (The Cranes Are Flying)
Mikhail Kalatozov
Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street)
Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos
Csillagosok, katonák (The Red and the White)
Miklós Jancsó
The thousands of guests we were honored to greet, among whom:

Harrison Ford

Charlotte Rampling

Hilary Swank

Michael Fassbender

Willem Dafoe

Wim Wenders

Nastassja Kinski

Daniel Craig

Marlene Dietrich

Edward Norton

Albert Serra

Isabelle Huppert

Adrain Brody

Jean-Luc Godard

Agnès Varda

Umberto Eco

Ken Loach


Daisy Edgar-Jones

Sir Anthony Hopkins

Gus Van Sant

Ermanno Olmi

Melanie Griffith

Michael Cimino

Sir Christopher Lee

Juliette Binoche

Luc Besson

Olivia Wilde

Nanni Moretti

Harry Belafonte

Matthew Barney

Silvana Pampanini

Harvey Keitel

Heinz Rühmann

Jafar Panahi

Matt Dillon

Gina Lollobrigida

Tim Roth

Marlen Khutsiev

Udo Kier

Sophie Marceau

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Quentin Dupieux

Fredi M. Murer

Kirk Wong

Vicky Krieps

John Waters

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Michel Houellebecq

Rutger Hauer

Laurie Anderson

Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Brigitte Horney

Bruno Ganz

Meg Ryan

Dario Argento

Jean Rouch

Lynn Shaw



Francesca Bertini

Alain Delon



Hideko Takamine

Bud Spencer

Laure Calamy

Taraneh Alidoosti

Ennio Morricone

Paolo Virzì


Would you like to participate?

We’re joined in our magical journey by enlightened public and private partners who help us make the Locarno Film Festival happen year after year. Their invaluable support allows us to remain not only the most respected independent film festival in the world, but also the benchmark hub for young filmmakers, cinephiles and emerging cinema.As we thrive and grow ambitious programmes and visionary initiatives, we always seek to build new and relevant relationships with partners who share our values and a desire to be part of the art scene of tomorrow. To get in touch: marketing@locarnofestival.ch