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Every year, the Locarno Festival showcases the best of recent Swiss film production via its Panorama Suisse section, curated by representatives of the Solothurn Film Festival, the Swiss Film Academy and SWISS FILMS. “We’re not a jury”, says Catherine Ann Berger, Managing Director of SWISS FILMS. “We’re a committee who choose from a wide range of films that have already proven their qualities with audiences and juries”. The 2018 selection consists of ten films, all of which were warmly embraced by audiences in Switzerland (Solothurn, Visions du Réel) and abroad (Berlin, Cannes). A healthy mix of documentary and fiction, with acclaimed veterans like Markus Imhoof and Christian Frei sharing the spotlight with emerging talents. Lisa Brühlmann’s Blue My Mind, which premiered in San Sebastián eleven months ago, enthralled viewers with its blend of teenage angst, body horror and urban fantasy, going on to win three Swiss Film Prizes (Best Film, Best Actress and Best Screenplay), while Anja Kofmel’s Chris the Swiss impressed festival audiences with its blend of documentary and animation, as the director tries to reconstruct what happened to her cousin, who was killed in Croatia in 1992. Also present is Germinal Roaux, whose second feature film Fortuna received two awards at the Berlinale, while Marcel Gisler combines football and love in the gay sports drama Mario.
The documentary selection includes the return of Fernand Melgar, a regular presence in the various Locarno programs since 2000. His new film À l’école des Philosophes marks a detour from his recent explorations of the lives of immigrants in Switzerland, focusing instead on the first school experience of a group of mentally handicapped children. Conversely, migration is at the core of Eldorado, Markus Imhoof’s achingly personal juxtaposition of his own past and current concerns about refugees (and Switzerland’s choice for the upcoming Oscar race). Christian Frei returns with Genesis 2.0, co-directed with Maxim Arbugaev, an in-depth look at the progress made in the field of genetics, and Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond observe the daily lives of five women in their sixties in Les Dames. An obsessive search is at the center of Georges Gachot’s Where Are You, João Gilberto?, and then there’s the future of journalism in Dieter Fahrer’s Die Vierte Gewalt, an examination of Swiss editorial policies and survival strategies in an environment that was at risk of being irreversibly damaged by the “No Billag” initiative. Will the Locarno platform lead to nationwide success? “Previously we’ve had films from the German-speaking territories that found new audiences in French-speaking regions through Panorama Suisse, and vice versa”, says Berger. “Festivals are wonderful places to get to know the multi-faceted angles of our society”.