After losing one year due to the pandemic, the Locarno Academy (which comprehends Critics, Filmmakers, and Industry Academy) is restarting. Stefano Knuchel, as the Project Manager of the Filmmakers Academy, how do you perceive this new start? And which are the main events of the 2021 edition?

We are trying to restart the industry engine. We want to provide visibility and once again build a network which is no longer the same, the network needs to be rebuilt. We are trying to answer a very important question: what is the role of the director in this new environment? Will we go back to the old way of moviemaking, or do we need to stand-up and create something new? This theme is surfacing a lot in Academy 2021: Critics, Filmmakers and Industry. I think in the last few months many directors have gained the awareness that they need to develop their own voice in this newly-formed process.

How did you organize the three Academies, especially Industry, in order to face all the changes that the pandemic started or accelerated?

The answer is global. The Industry Academy is the only one which is truly spread all over the world. Marion Klotz, Industry Academy International Project Manager, started a strong connection through various festivals. Through a global network we can really perceive the different situations: if we experienced some damage, other countries just crashed. This is another issue we are facing this year: how to restart from scratch? But behind this gloomy picture there’s another fundamental question: Is there now the space to create something new?

How do you think the community that the Academy formed over the years will face these challenges in the future?

I think we need to be very specific about the concept of community. I feel that a film festival like Locarno, with a long history of connecting different cinematic realities, plays an important role in building a community in its most true meaning. We need to understand which impact your network wants to have: today there’s a lazy, even dangerous opinion of the community, based mostly on numbers. I can see 100 people that produce and change the game while there are another 100,000 others that do nothing but waste time. Open Doors, for example, showed over the years that they could speak to a community, even using digital channels. I think Locarno and Switzerland can have that neutral approach that other European countries sometimes struggle to achieve.