News from the Locarno Festival

5 Lives to Tell: Writers on Film

Vor der Morgenröte


© X Verleih

Poesía sin fin


© Pascale_Montandon-Jodorowsky



5 Lives to Tell: Writers on Film


© Silviu Ghetie

5 Lives to Tell: Writers on Film


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On paper, there’s nothing less cinematic than the life of a writer, as it’s an art where creation stems from loneliness and thinking. And yet biopics keep going strong at the movies, and this edition of the Festival will allow you to discover the lives of five writers, based in Europe and Asia. These are stories of exile and great political ideals, showcasing a wide range of ways to see the role of the intellectual in society and the relationship between autobiographical events and artistic creation.


1. Stefan Zweig

We start with Stefan Zweig, the face of Europe caught in between two world wars, seen on his trips from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, New York and Petropolis in Maria Schrader’s Vor der Morgenröte (Piazza Grande). It’s a journey through America to talk about the complex situation in Europe with great intelligence and foresight, owing to distance.


2. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Director-poet-puppeteer-comic book writer Alejandro Jodorowsky is completing a series of autobiographical films, where he unleashes his adventurous and very surprising life. Poesía sin fin, screened in the Piazza Grande, focuses on the youthful Santiago years, when young Alejandro pursues poetry as a horizon of freedom.


3. Jorge de Sena e Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Having been forced to leave his home country for political reasons, Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena emigrated first to Brazil and then to the United States. Through distance he developed a rich and prolific correspondence with Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, an exchange of letters – the basis for Rita Azevedo GomesCorrespondências (Concorso internazionale) – that take their cue from everyday life to then become an examination of the meaning of words.


4. Max Blecher

Following the international success of Aferim!, Romanian director Radu Jude takes inspiration from the autobiographical novel of his fellow countryman Max Blecher, who died at the age of 29 after a decade’s worth of suffering. Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts, Concorso internazionale), set in a sanatorium, is a story about love, an illness that is much stronger than the one consuming the writer’s body.


5. Wiji Thukul

A poet’s exodus along the border of Indonesia: Wiji Thukul is not just an artist, as his words, flames launched against the Suharto regime, become slogans during the Djakarta riots of 1996. Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude, Concorso Cineasti del presente) tells the story of the poet’s escape to Borneo, looking for cover, while his compositions excite the masses.

Daniela Persico

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