Welcome back to Locarno!

by Raphaël Brunschwig, CEO Locarno Film Festival

© Mirjam and Lukas Fröhlich

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Last year we felt clearly how close our various audiences were, how keen to take an active part, despite the physical distance and the fact that most of the event was online. It was because we were so aware of those signals that, against a background of continuing uncertainty, we decided to work towards a single precise objective: to make the Locarno Film Festival a human and artistic meeting place once again, the way it has been for over seventy years. 

A year to reboot 
2020 was a transformative year for everybody, and especially so for creative industries. The Locarno Film Festival, backed up by a network of contacts from global to local, and by its raft of established, diversified projects – like Open Doors, the Locarno Academy, Locarno Kids and BaseCamp – successfully engaged in a process of rethinking the identity of a contemporary film festival, intensifying our dialogue with the various communities of festivalgoers, with young creatives and film professionals. We did this by working on pilot projects such as Heritage Online and the Locarno Shorts Weeks, capable of transcending the timeframe and geographical limits of an eleven-day event, while further raising the visibility of the festival itself in August.  

So the 2021 edition is a reboot: a year that will still be transitional, with the excitement of the Locarno nights necessarily going hand in hand with the required level of awareness about public health. It will be a challenging year also for the operational management and it will get us used to the introduction of some regular items, such as a reservation system online for screenings: an inevitable feature this year, but one which will allow us to offer a safe experience for all those movie fans who cannot wait to meet up again in a creative environment such as our Festival offers. 

But this is also an edition which looks to the future. In that perspective, the Festival must broaden its horizons and seek new alliances and synergies. One such initiative is the setting up, jointly with Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI), of a chair entitled “The Locarno Film Festival Professor for the Future of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts”, wanted by the Board of Directors as a sign of hope for the post-pandemic period. This is an innovative project combining academic study with hands on work in the field, with an ongoing output of data and research from within and around the Festival, focused on the future of our event. The objective is for the Locarno Film Festival to be able to redraw the boundaries of its domain of influence and operations, strengthening itself as a platform active all year round, consistently capable of repositioning itself and above all relevant to its regional, national and international communities. 

We feel we have taken a first step toward that goal with this edition. We are heading down the home straight towards the major celebration of Locarno75, ready to reach in all fields another milestone with the young, free and innovative gaze that is our hallmark. 

Raphaël Brunschwig
Chief Operating Officer Locarno Film Festival