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Artistic Director's Blog
Re-thinking film

Artistic Director's Blog
Re-thinking film

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To give the Festival a life beyond that of its habitual annual program, Locarno has organized three days of screenings, discussion, and workshops, with a prestigious line-up of guests.L’immagine e la parola (24 – 27 March 2013) offers an opportunity to look at film from a different angle, without obsessing over the competition aspect, and foregrounding dialogue and an educational component. For this we have invited a number of filmmakers dear to Locarno’s heart, both for the work they produce and for the consistency and courage of their approach. In addition to the screenings – a highlight of which includes the newly rediscovered print of Wegener’s silent film Der Student von Prague, restored by the Filmmuseum München –  there will be tributes to the Italian writers Antonio Tabucchi and Salvatore Atzeni and round tables which will include nearly all the Festival’s previous artistic directors in what promises to be a highly productive event . The program concludes with three workshops led by Richard Dindo, Paolo Benvenuti and Alexander Sokurov. The first two will talk about films they are currently making (Homo Faber and Caravaggio, respectively), while Sokurov will, for the first time in a public forum, offer a detailed account of the totally unique way he made Russian Ark

Re-thinking film
In the Western tradition, in the beginning is the word; within it are contained all things and their images, in whatever shape or form. The cinema is an expression of that Western tradition, but arrived on the scene consisting of images only – the word came later. This technical fact shaped a hierarchy of image and word. As an analogical art in which reality is offered up (almost) without filters, the cinema has cultivated the illusion of being a duplicate of the real. Although analogical reproduction is no longer predominant in the early 21st century, the concept of cinematographic naturalism remains unchallenged. Which is why re-thinking cinema with the pairing of “image and word” means going beyond its realistic conception. Over the three days of forums, screenings and workshops, we will try to treat the cinema not just as an instrument for reproducing reality but as an art capable of creating an entirely different form of reality.

Two big trends seem to be in motion in film today. On the one hand, a system of gigantic sound and image machinery producing hyperbolic versions of reality: filmed images that reproduce reality to the last detail, but then leapfrog reality itself using their own superheroes’ tricks, dazzling (some might say dumbing down) the viewer in the process. On the other, there are minimal stories from every corner of the planet, told with a strong sense of ethics and cohesion with their local, human context: filmic storytelling that is updating the canonical concept of the cinema as a window on the world. Between these two great trends, mainstream and arthouse, there are those who operate as free agents: moviemakers who, before committing to a certain narrative form, question the long-established ties between image and sound. These are people following in the same line as the artists and thinkers who over the years joined together on Monte Verità: not seeing a place for themselves in the general system, they seek out new paths to express not what exists before their eyes, but what their eyes see before it exists. They’re the people to whom L’immagine e la parola is dedicated in its inaugural year.

Carlo Chatrian

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