Sustainability report

The Locarno Film Festival, like cinema itself, is a dream machine. behind this evocative concept, however, there is an entire organization which is always hard at work, year round, in close cooperation with all players involved, across the local area and the entire region, seeking to improve its own processes and practices.

This first sustainability report is the Festival’s way of presenting the results achieved so far and its main efforts in the domain of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. We hope that it will also foster a transparent and proactive conversation on these important issues, and help to promote and disseminate best practices in both the cultural events sector and in all our daily lives.

The Locarno Film Festival occupies a prominent place both in the history of the film industry development and in the history of cinema itself. Such preeminence does not bring entitlement, however, but responsibility. It is a value to be passed on to our successors. That’s why the Festival is at the forefront of efforts to imagine how it can continue to play that historic and cultural role as well as to come up with viable and sustainable solutions for working towards a future that will be inclusive, open, and creative.



Against the backdrop of profound, relentless change impacting every sector of the audiovisual industry, a proud history like that of this Festival entails the duty - and the historic task - of imagining several possible scenarios for the many ways of telling stories through moving pictures that we still call “cinema”. What will tomorrow’s “film” be and, more importantly, to whom will it speak? To whom will it address itself? The cinema, witness and memory of the 20th century, a mutant and free body in constant dialogue with the aspirations of freedom, creation, and innovation, has always been the privileged observation point for intuiting the possible directions of the future. Understanding the dynamics and the potential solutions whereby a film event can reduce its impact on the environment and on natural resources is a task we cannot shirk. This first imperative entails another: we must at least (try to) root out religious, ethnic, gender and political prejudices, through a responsible and shared curatorial approach to film products, but without impinging on the supreme value of artists’ poetic and creative freedoms or merely falling in line with transient prevailing opinion. The first cycle of the history of film, the youngest of the arts, inextricably linked to the industrial, economic and political development of the 20th century, is behind us. Nonetheless, its history continues to observe and challenge us concerning how we intend to proceed in the second century of this story, and with which projects. On the quality of the feasible scenarios that we can come up with, and on how well we put them into practice, will depend (in part) the credibility of the Festival as it carries forward its mission and its values. Creativity, independence, vision, generosity, inclusivity, horizontality, sustainability. The world is a field of possibilities and choices, offered up to our gaze and our action.

Artistic director - Giona A. Nazzaro

Our mission

The Locarno Film Festival is a space for creating new and different imaginaries



Current and future

In recent years, the Locarno Film Festival, in addition to its cultural, economic, and political value, has also increasingly become a crucial, formative factor of identity, characterizing the whole of the region where it takes place.



Our values

As a physical space, it is a place that welcomes filmmakers with their works, industry professionals, and movie fans, all of whom get a chance to express themselves freely in a perspective of dialogue and exchange. However, Locarno is also a virtual space which looks beyond the timeframe and geographical limits of the event itself, making rapid strides in its digital dimension.

A space for, because it is that “for” which opens up infinite possibilities: doing, seeing, discovering, self-expression, planning, dialogue. The verb “create” enshrines the Festival’s vocation to produce something new, beyond being a mere showcase for films and projects.

In other words, the Locarno Film Festival is the place in which new imaginaries are shaped. The social imaginary provides the signposts which guide us through the many and different realities with which we come into contact. Not forgetting that the social imaginary, as the collective heritage of symbols and representations, creates a map which must be constantly rewritten and updated.

These are the reasons why Locarno is a space that, year after year, becomes fertile ground for new and different imaginaries, in the full awareness that every form of identity is forged through the rapport and exchange with the other, and with what lies beyond the beaten tracks.

Our contribution to sustainable development goals

The sustainable goals of the Festival


Attract and support the younger generations

The Festival intends to bring in and empower a younger audience by offering a range of services and activities created along with emerging audiovisual talents. One step in this direction is the Festival’s openness towards embracing new forms and media of artistic expression that are typical of contemporary reality.

Strengthen the role of culture in the surrounding area

Over the years, the cultural asset that is the Locarno Film Festival has strengthened the identity of the region. Landmark instances of this process include the PalaCinema project and the purchase by the city of the Palexpo (FEVI). This made possible the development of the region as a district of Audiovisual excellence, in which the Ticino Film Commission and film schools like CISA also play their part. The Festival is therefore committed to cooperating with other regional partners towards the development, promotion, and optimization of the entire cultural scene in the city and in Canton Ticino. The Festival liaises constantly with other film players, such as Castellinaria, Film Festival Diritti Umani Lugano, and local film clubs. Moreover, it has been instrumental in launching spin-off events such as L’immagine e la parola, the Eventi letterari at Monte Verità, and the recently founded FestivaLLibro in Muralto. Other important synergies include partnerships with the LAC arts center in Lugano and the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana (OSI) as well as with SUPSI (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland) and USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana).

Reduce the environmental footprint of the event in Locarno

The Festival works proactively to strengthen measures to encourage slow mobility and respect environmental balance in the city which is its permanent home and which, during the 11-day annual event, plays host to visitors from all over the planet. In the same way, the organization is committed to enhancing collective awareness around the issues of responsible consumption.

Investigate the ecological and inclusive potential of digitalization

Technological innovation, which made a sudden leap forward at Locarno2020, is a motor that the Festival intends to keep running, expanding its own services and creating new digital products that will assist, stimulate, and increase audiences near and far, year round.

Create a local network of sustainable players

As part of its activities, the Festival is committed to developing partnerships with local suppliers that share the same principles of sustainability.

Contribute to a fairer society that pays more attention to sustainability issues

The Festival plays an active part in the local economic and social development. Hence, the organization is keen to strengthen its commitment to the environment and to reaching out to increase awareness of sustainability issues.

Train and educate to nurture new talents

The Festival’s portfolio of expertise and resources is put to work on behalf of practical, solid and innovative education projects for children, adolescents, and aspiring film professionals.

Adding value at local and cantonal level, working together for growth


One of the strongpoints of the Locarno Film Festival is its deeprooted rapport with the surrounding area, the Canton Ticino, and the local population. These close ties are strengthened year by year thanks to their reciprocal nature: the Festival enjoys the support and involvement of local institutions, citizens, and businesses, but the region and its commercial and tourism operators also reap the significant economic benefits that the event brings to the area. As an organizational machine the Festival is a powerful job creator, in particular for local suppliers of goods and services and in the tourist trade.



Study by the Università della Svizzera italiana on the economic impacts of the Locarno Film Festival (2004)

The complete edition mounted in 2019 saw the involvement of 801 suppliers, while in 2020, despite the severe restrictions imposed on all economic sectors, that figure still reached an impressive 485. It was also calculated that, in 2019, 71.2% of costs related to the event were paid directly to Ticino-based companies, to a total value of CHF 9,496,511.-. On the tourism front, the Festival ensures that high season carries through to mid-August, bringing benefits not only to hotel operators but also to the Canton’s other attractions: museums, swimming pools and lidos, restaurants, shopping malls, sports installations, and mountain tourism. The partnership with the Lake Maggiore and Valleys tourist authority is strategically vital in this sense, because it means the region can be promoted as a cultural destination thanks to the Festival’s communication channels. At the same time, festival-goers can be encouraged to extend their stay and discover the region. It has been estimated that the Festival’s domestic and international media coverage alone is worth over 5 million Swiss francs, based on over 15,000 dedicated media features.

Inevitably, this preferential approach to local resources is also reflected in the make-up of the Festival staff: in 2019, 77% of a total of CHF 3,700,000.- paid out in salaries and social security contributions went to workers resident in Ticino, involving a total of over 1,000 staff (20 full-time, 120 on fixed-term contracts lasting from 1 to 11 months, and 900 employed during the days of the event itself). The figures provide further proof of how cinema and culture can be a pole of attraction around which to build a system capable of generating revenue and employment, adding value to the specific qualities and resources of the surrounding area.

We support innovation, creative indipendence and discovery

Our commitment to social sustainability

As an event with a rich historic heritage, the Locarno Film Festival naturally keeps alive its gift for welcoming change, even as it looks to the future. Innovation, in the sense of responding to new audiences and changing trends in the media and audiovisual system, is the pathway chosen by the Festival as it seeks to maintain and strengthen its positive impact on the surrounding area. That pathway involves a trio of key core factors: active involvement of the young generations in dedicated training courses and initiatives; inclusion and meeting of diverse identities; promoting the image of Switzerland and Canton Ticino around the world.


Our achievements to date

In these sectors, knowledge is more than just a tool ensuring the success of the event itself. It is a heritage of expertise that must be handed down to the next generations, enhancing the know-how of the region and of the whole of Switzerland. It’s no coincidence that the initiatives set up in recent years have all aimed to make the Festival an incubator for film and arts projects: every year in August, Locarno creates the conditions for once-in-a-lifetime encounters that can yield original ideas, new collaborations, stunning works and career-defining moments, thanks to the networking between emerging talents and established professionals.

Locarno Kids: education for moving images

Unlike other major film festivals, the bouquet of training initiatives from the Locarno Film Festival does not cater exclusively for adult students, but also features numerous activities for much younger learners. Locarno Kids, the part of the Festival designed for children, offers dedicated screenings (in 2019-2020 there were 13, including 4 in Piazza Grande) and workshops to explore and understand the audiovisual world (18 in 2019-2020, with the cooperation of 10 partners). As the range of initiatives has increased, so have the levels of participation, considerably, with no less than 800 children enrolled in 2019. For the online edition organized in 2020 and titled HomeMade Movies, there were around 200 participants. Mentored by an exceptional tutor, Claude Barras (the Swiss director of My Life as a Zucchini, Oscar-nominated in 2017), the youngsters were more actively engaged than ever, making some 50 animated short films of their own, a selection of which will be presented at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. Around 85% of the children who enroll for these activities are from Canton Ticino, attesting yet again to our close ties with the local area and its education system, which we intend to develop still further over the coming years.


There was literally a before and after. Everything changed in my perception of the job after the Industry Academy, in my capacities, in my goals and possibilities. I mention it in professional conversations sometimes, when I feel it useful, it always works. I’m now identified by the whole industry, it’s the little plus that makes me a little more special, it’s priceless. The Academy made me earn time and meet people who I’m now linked with for years.

Locarno Academy, making film a career

The Locarno Academy is designed for young people aspiring to work in the film industry. For over a decade, the Academy has nurtured fledgling talents from all over the world, through master classes and courses taught by leading directors (Filmmakers Academy), film critics (Critics Academy), and producers and distributors (Industry Academy). Among the stand-out names involved in recent editions have been Oscar-winner Bong Joonho, Pedro Costa (Pardo d’oro 2019), Albert Serra, Sean Baker, Funa Maduka (Netflix), Daniel Kasman (MUBI), Eva Sangiorgi (Viennale), Haden Guest (Harvard Film Archive), Marie-Pierre Duhamel (Pingyao IFF) and Jacqueline Lyanga (Film Independent). The fact that courses are held in August during the Festival itself means that participants can come to Locarno and take part in the event hands-on: an experience which for many would otherwise be unthinkable due to geographical and financial barriers. An essential part of the Academy’s mission, indeed, is to explore and support cultures beyond the confines of Central Europe, in a perspective of inclusion and appreciation of diversity. Reflecting this approach, in 2019-2020 the 63 participants selected came from 31 countries all over the globe, including Switzerland. After their time in Locarno, many alumni have gone on to undertake brilliant careers and garner important awards, including a Silver Bear. The alumni network which has built up over time keeps up many of the contacts established, while initiatives such as Project Realness in Africa or the independent producers’ network in South America – supported by the Locarno Academy – are helping to make film careers easier in places where social and political factors make access difficult. The Locarno Academy is active throughout the year, partly through the Locarno Industry Academy, which carries the Festival spirit worldwide with courses for emerging professionals in other countries. From 2019 to 2020, the four Locarno Industry Academy programs that were run (in New York, São Paulo, Panama, and Thessaloniki) involved a total of 39 participants.

Our commitment to environmental sustainability

Since 2010, the socially responsible and ethically aware approach that has always been typical of the Locarno Film Festival has taken practical shape in a series of eco-friendly measures, aimed first and foremost at reducing the CO2 emissions produced by organizing and putting on the event. Today we are joined on the route towards environmental sustainability by 13 partners, plus a growing range of concrete initiatives on environmental outreach and protection, promoting smart mobility and encouraging recycling. The Locarno Experience is not just the red carpet to the movie stars and the Pardo awards, but also a green pathway towards environmental awareness.


The Locarno Film Festival has long been committed, through artistic and training initiatives, to reaching out to its public on environmental issues, raising awareness and incentivizing good environmental protection practices.

Climate neutral event since 2010

In more recent years, this approach has taken concrete shape in tangible actions towards protection and awareness-raising on environmental issues, such as financial support for the sustainability projects of myclimate, a Swiss non-profit organization engaged worldwide in initiatives for sustainable development and climate protection. Every year, the Festival offsets its CO2 emissions by supporting a specific myclimate project: in 2019, for instance, we financed the installation throughout Indonesia of domestic biogas digesters as a clean, sustainable energy source. The Festival’s own Prize List also highlights environmental issues through the Cinema&Gioventù initiative: every year, a jury of young cinephiles awards two “Ambiente è qualità di vita (Environment is Quality of Life)” prizes - offered by the Canton Ticino’s territorial department - to films in the Concorso Internazionale and Open Doors Screenings that convey the strongest expression of the concept. The Locarno Experience is also devoted to defending green values across the range of its activities. For instance, in 2019 laRotonda, the Festival Village, hosted a project titled “Support your local wood”: a wooden island was built by the Canton’s territorial department along with forestry and timber association Federlegno Ticino, to promote the local wood industry and sustainable practices.


New slow mobility

Another vector for environmental sustainability at the Festival is the promotion of smart mobility. In August, the city of Locarno attracts thousands of industry attendees and festival-goers from all over the world, causing a considerable increase in local journeys and traffic. To offset this, the Festival encourages slow mobility via all its communication channels, giving out information on available means of transportation. Using the train to reach Locarno is encouraged, for example, by the offer of combined tickets with reduced admission prices. Additionally, in collaboration with Autopostale, shuttle bus services are always available, while a Park&Ride service allows drivers to leave their cars and use Festival transportation to get downtown. Use of e-bikes is also promoted, with 100 bikes made available by Flyer Biketec and a further 20 through a collaboration with the Canton’s territorial department. The Festival’s official car fleet has also become greener, reaching 50% hybrid vehicles in 2019 thanks to our partnership with Toyota. Lastly, the Festival collaborates with Swiss Airlines, which since 2003 has reduced its specific carbon footprint by 29%.

Outreach on environmental protection

Encouraging recycling, one of the most straightforward everyday responsible behaviors, is pivotal to the Festival’s logistical practices: in order to reduce waste pollution, all event locations have recycling stations with bins for proper disposal. We also collaborate with the City council and the Canton’s territorial department on awarenessraising activities when crowds are at their biggest. So as to reduce waste of resources, eco-friendly alternatives are used in the PalaCinema offices and at all other Festival sites. All our publications are printed on recycled paper, but digitization has also allowed us to further reduce the use of paper, for instance by emailing documents and press packs to guests and accredited attendees. Our partnership with the electricity company SES allows us to operate the infrastructure in Piazza Grande using 100 % energy from renewable sources. Lastly, since 2019 laRotonda has only employed re-usable drinks containers and has given preference to operators offering fresh local produce, while sustainable materials are used for the range of gadgets on sale, produced by Manor. These are all practical signs of a Festival keen to establish its profile as a zero-footprint major event.

Next steps

365 days of Locarno



In recent years, international film festivals have broadened their horizons and today tend no longer to limit their activities to acting as a showcase for a selection of new audiovisual works. On the contrary, they have become complex mechanisms that are fully integrated in the production chain of the film industry, developing new projects through workshops, residencies, and production funds.



The Locarno Film Festival has chosen to embrace this evolving pattern by drawing up a plan that will take it from the model of an undertaking built around a single event towards becoming a connected community throughout the year. To that end, many of the organizational efforts of the past two years have been focused on the creation and implementation of a consistent, synergetic project that will set out the Festival’s objectives across a year-round cycle: 365 days of Locarno. In this perspective, the summer event of the Festival will continue to be the heart of a constellation of products and services offered to our reference communities throughout the rest of the year.

The urgent need for film festivals to move in new directions emerged even more starkly against the backdrop of the global pandemic, showing how they could become structures for all-round support and promotion across the entire film industry. Locarno itself provided a perfect instance of this in 2020 with the setting up of a solidarity fund for film projects brought to a stop by COVID-19, through the initiative The FilmsAfter Tomorrow. In this case, the Festival acted to finance uncompleted film projects via special Pardo awards destined for production and post-production. In so doing, it sent out a clear signal in favor of the concept of a festival as a space for production and creation, not just exhibition. This project was backed up by Closer to Life – a solidarity initiative for Swiss independent cinemas, developed in concert with la Mobiliare to support exhibitors in Switzerland. In order to raise awareness of the cultural significance of cinema theaters, over 10,000 tickets were offered to the public for use in one of the 78 theaters in the scheme, valid for any screening in the period between October and end December 2020. The initiative enjoyed endorsements from leading artists and cultural figures in Switzerland, who recounted their personal reasons for loving the cinema.


Digital services and content available throughout the year

This is exactly the pattern which we are increasingly seeing unfold in conjunction with those Locarno Film Festival initiatives that involve greater personal engagement, whether in individual projects built up together with our partners, or in activities organized for the global audience and industry professionals.


In a virtuous cycle, the sharing of ideas and principles that unite the festival’s various stakeholders can bring about the creation of a community of people, producing a sense of belonging which goes beyond the timeframe and geographical limits of the event.

With Locarno365, the Festival aims to interpret and answer the requirements of these communities, large and small, ensuring an ongoing response not just during the 11 days in August, but also throughout the year, introducing new initiatives and new avenues of participation which are going to increasingly acquire a digital dimension via an online platform to make content and services available in line with the profile of individual users. Industry professionals will be able to access new and expanded activities scheduled outside the Festival period; younger users will be able to follow structured permanent training pathways, with ongoing master classes and workshops; cinephiles will be able to explore prestigious and tailored content, both audiovisual and written, curated by the Festival artistic team as an exclusive; lastly, communities in the generalist public (from adults to children) will be able to enjoy special content and films on screen at home, beyond the setting of the live event.

The young generations always take center stage

The young people involved in Locarno Film Festival projects have long formed a kind of spontaneous community of their own, solidly based on the values of respect, inclusivity, and concern for the environment. In order to strengthen that community and foster youth engagement to the full, the Festival has picked up on an idea put forward by children taking part in one of its workshops: from the 2021 edition, it will introduce a Locarno Kids prize, to be awarded every year to a film personality who has made a noteworthy contribution to cinema for children and young people.

Support for young people will also be increased thanks to new initiatives such as the Residency project, which aims to give emerging filmmakers the tools to write their screenplays, bridging the gap between creative process and the world of industry professionals. After taking part in an edition of the Festival and various training activities, the selected candidate will stay on a Residency in Locarno lasting some 5 months, during which time he or she can complete their screenplay. At the next edition of the Festival the candidate will present the final version of the project at Locarno Pro, hopefully attracting funding from producers attending in person with a view to bringing the screenplay to the screen.

The Locarno Industry Academy, meanwhile, will be going to Africa for the first time, with an online session from 21 to 26 July 2021 that will feature 8 participants from all over the African continent.

The Locarno Pro workshop dedicated to young film industry professionals working in sales, distribution, exhibition and programming will be broadening its horizons and expanding its role within the Festival community, too, thanks to the start of a partnership with Realness Institute.

Towards green cinema

In line with its environmental engagement, the Festival is concerned to promote and disseminate ecological awareness in film production itself. Our organization is currently evaluating projects designed to incentivize the adoption of sustainable practices and behaviors on film sets, and to bring environmental issues to the fore in new forms of storytelling. “Green” cinema, capable of establishing a genuine rapport between film and the most urgent questions facing our society.

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