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It’s hard to think of a more radical beginning. When I gladly accepted the adventure of taking over the helm at Locarno Pro, I could never have imagined that my first Festival would be without people, or that the spark that lights up my every Festival experience would not be there – the meetings. That incredible time in August of unique and exciting encounters, when Locarno is the world capital of auteur filmmaking and the days of Locarno Pro are center stage on the independent film industry scene. When 354 days of weaving relationships, establishing contacts and arousing interest finally pay off when you meet face to face with acquaintances old and new, shake hands and catch up. No, there will be no such time this year. My first year in the Locarno team has turned out to be an absolute year zero, for me and for the Festival as a whole, required for the first time in decades to give up a vital part of itself and engage in a complete rethink.
It’s been hard, but also very powerful, quite literally. Because the power of zero can mean anything and everything. It can be the opportunity to raise the potential of the Internet to 100%, making it the arena for those “missing” meetings, with the awareness that without geographical borders, the possible audience online is limitless. It can be a chance to grow together with our partners, facing the challenge side by side and finding in each other the strength and the tools to redefine a project collaboratively. It can be the space in which to remind the world, loud and clear, that we at Locarno Pro already started up a gaze without borders eighteen years ago, with Open Doors. It can be the ideal moment to initiate an idea with no specific venue but a precise objective.
Which is why my year zero, our year zero, has turned out to be an ideal year. A year of ideas, all to be reshaped or thought up from scratch. The year of the virtual meetings of StepIn 2020 with Variety and SwissBiz with Cinébulletin. The year to take a trip back through those eighteen years of Open Doors, a leading player in the programming of Locarno 2020 and also another virtual forum for discussions, exchange and growth with auteurs and producers all so far away, yet also never so close. The year to launch Heritage Online, an unprecedented platform that links the treasures of film history to the future by opening a way for masterpieces of the past to find a niche on VOD and streaming. Another project made possible by the Internet and by the various ways of meeting up “differently” online until we can see each other again in person, eye to eye, at Locarno 2021.
So, my first year could have been easier, but it surely couldn’t have been more interesting, full as it has been of learning and promise for the future.
Starting from zero, yes, but with an invaluable heritage behind me — the work of my predecessors — and a future to be built on the horizon. The future that we will try to draw, together, at Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films.