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Published to mark this year’s 75th edition, Locarno On / Locarno Off: History and Stories of the Film Festival (Edizioni Casagrande) tells the official history and also offers tales from the rarely seen side “off” the main event, in 75 anecdotes that blend truth and legend: Marlene Dietrich, silent by the terms of her contract; Rainer Werner Fassbinder stealing a hotel screen; Roberto Benigni on the phone to 8,000 people; Spike Lee and Wim Wenders paralyzed by stage fright in Piazza Grande; Agnès Varda doing a leopard dance… a travel which moves through the spotlights and the backstage to tell a story always projected towards the future. Richly illustrated from the archives, the volume also contains an interview with Festival President Marco Solari.
There is a white thread running through the image of succes-sive artistic directors at Locarno, from the origins down to the present day. It started with what might be termed the Festival’s “orig-inal white”: the elegant dinner suit worn by Vinicio Beretta, its true driving force from the outset until his agonizing decision to resign in 1965. Beretta’s chosen color really was a personal emblem, as confirmed by another historic figure at Locarno, Marco Blaser, the official presenter for evenings at the Grand Hotel: “I always wore a pearl-gray tuxedo, because white was strictly for Vinicio Beretta.”
Lorenzo Buccella (Lugano, 1974) is a journalist, film critic, and writer. He was the editor of the official website and magazine of the Locarno Film Festival, and in 2014 he edited the book Forever Young. Festival del film Locarno 1997-2012.
He works for the Swiss television and radio broadcasting service RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera.