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First Look selects productions from a different focus country every year. And since its introduction in 2012 has acted as a launchpad for new productions from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Israel, Poland, the Baltic Countries, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland and Germany.
This year, the initiative celebrates and awards the masterpieces of tomorrow from the UK, presenting six works-in-progress at the cusp of completion. The focus on UK cinema is made possible thanks to a partnership with the BFI international Fund, using funds from the National Lottery.
The selected works-in-progress, none of which currently have sales representation, will be presented to accredited industry professionals at the Cinema Rialto during the Locarno Film Festival.
The international First Look jury, comprised of Ava Cahen (Artistic Director, La Semaine de la Critique), Gaia Furrer (Artistic Director, Giornate degli Autori), Eugene Hernandez (Festival Director, Sundance Institute) will hand out several awards: the Creativity Media First Look Award, which covers services towards the completion of films in post-production up to the value of €50,000; the Jannuzzi Smith Award worth €8,500, for the design of an international poster; and an award from leading industry magazine Le Film Français with advertising space worth €5,600. The winners will be announced on Sunday, 6 August 2023.
This year's selected projects are:
7 Keys by Joy Wilkinson
Produced by Cassandra Sigsgaard, Jeva Films, co-produced by 4 8 Fourteen Films
Daniel has kept the keys to all the places he ever lived. Lena wants to use them – on the ultimate property porn tour of London, a lost weekend of getting to know each other intimately in other people’s homes. But as Lena unlocks her lover’s past, what began as a risky fantasy becomes a deadly threat. Will Lena’s attempt to escape her real life leave her more trapped than ever?
All At Sea by Mike Hodges
Produced by Solon Papadopoulos, Hurricane Films
All At Sea is a semi-autobiographical documentary by the late and acclaimed director and scriptwriter Mike Hodges, showing the world through his eyes throughout his life, and how it has changed and stayed the same. Directed, written and narrated by Hodges, it explores Mike’s story from his start in the Navy in the 1950s, to his work for Granada in the 1960s, through to his meteoric success with hits such as Get Carter and Flash Gordon in the 1970s onwards. Reflecting from his quiet Dorset home, Mike Hodges creates a visual ode to the bustle of the sea, the spark of 1960s London, and the darker side of the world that he’s seen through a lens.
Mother Vera by Cécile Embleton and Alys Tomlinson
Produced by Laura Shacham, She Makes Productions
From the thick snow of the Belarusian forest to the heat of the reeds in the French Camargue, Mother Vera is the story of a young Orthodox nun; her turbulent past, and fragile future. After 20 years as a monastic, Vera faces deep inner conflict; now, she must confront her past and trust her instincts to find the liberation she desires.
No Ifs Or Buts by Sarah Lewis
Produced by Sarah Lewis, Felt Culture, co-produced by DoBeDo
Filmed over a 25-year period, No Ifs Or Buts delivers a vital portrait of the low-key, yet world-famous London barbershop ‘Cuts’ – not just a place to get your hair styled but a space for street fashion and pop innovators. Guided by freewheeling founders James Lebon and Steve Brooks who met when one was a Rockerbilly and the other a New Romantic, the salon moved from early 80s post punk roots to become a communal hub for DJs, photographers and style icons, an influencer in the analogue age. The film allows us to bear witness to the passing of time and the profound and often tragic personal change in the hairdressers’ lives within the wider context of change in the UK’s political and cultural landscape. It highlights the themes of family and creativity and is an anthem of the promise of youth and the friendships that endure (or not) over a lifetime.
The Lonely Musketeer by Nicolai Schumann
Produced by Adnan Raja, Addy Films, coproduced by Alice’s Pig, Apiro Entertainment, Rights Film Productions
A unique closed-room thriller about greed, revenge and the tragedy of human trauma. Rupert wakes up in a locked room without any doors or windows. He has no clue how he got there, and all he has is his mobile phone. As he investigates, he is haunted by the past and slowly discovers the horror he has gotten into.
VANILLA by Joseph A. Adesunloye
Produced by Joseph A Adesunloye, DreamCoat Films
Bastien and Matt, an interracial gay couple, celebrate their third anniversary by escaping to sunny Barcelona. With a beautiful house and proximity to the beach, they hope to mend their rocky relationship after Bastien’s recent infidelity with a woman. Matt struggles to move past it, affecting his libido, but they both attempt to come together and communicate honestly. However, their efforts are disrupted by the arrival of Florent, a Queer Englishman living in Spain.
Locarno Pro is made possible thanks to the vital support of the Federal Office of Culture / MEDIA Desk Suisse.