News  ·  06 | 07 | 2022

Continuity in Renewal

by Raphaël Brunschwig

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We live in a time when attention is a precious commodity, and capturing it a massive undertaking. The public is more divided than ever; content creation and consumption are mostly digital, and the industry has to cater to habits such as binge watching. How can a festival retain its attractiveness in such an environment? What should it be like? 

Now, as in the past, it is necessary to enable the artistic director to come up with the best possible program, striking a balance between three fundamental aspects: quality content, audience needs, and financing from public and private sources.  

Films are created, watched, and discussed throughout the year. This happens both online and offline, in a media landscape where films have to coexist with a growing number of other forms of culture. For a festival, it is important to proactively participate in and shape these discussions and experiences – indeed, to play a leading role. 

To be at the center of this expanded audience experience, we have to experiment and be daring, developing different spaces for interaction – in education and training, in cultural mediation, in the creation and distribution of artistic content. The Locarno Film Festival has been a pioneer in this: our Academies around the world are an excellent example. It’s an approach that is open to innovation which in recent years has allowed the development of some fifteen flexible and ambitious projects. These have been conceived from the outset to extend the reach and scope of the August event, based on a close cooperation with the Festival’s artistic curators. 

One emblematic instance is the BaseCamp: an artistic residency that spans the length of the Festival for 200 young artists, whose year-round input contributes to our development. Along similar lines, we have introduced the Locarno Shorts Weeks, a first venture in digital distribution of original content from the Festival to new audiences, and also the presence of the Concorso Cineasti del presente on Swisscom’s Blue TV streaming app from the 2022 edition. We have also created dedicated online industry platforms such as the Open Doors ToolBox, which has already expanded into a 1300-strong community, with membership constantly on the rise. In practice, that figure means that, in a little over a year, we have managed to increase tenfold the number of talents who can benefit from the resources we have created. 

The August event will maintain its core focus on cinema, showcasing a culture with a thousand facets; one that is simultaneously turning into a sun around which numerous other initiatives gravitate – giving rise to an ever more vital, rich and accessible universe. We plan to extend our influence across the annual cycle, inspiring new and as yet unseen images and imaginations, in an ongoing relationship with an audience that is itself evolving. By leveraging the power of digitalization to break down barriers of time and space, the intense conversations which are so typical of the eleven days of the actual event may in the future be extended beyond their natural limits – thus allowing us to ensure that emerging voices resonate even more fully, and to secure the continued existence and future relevance of the Locarno Film Festival.

Raphaël Brunschwig
Managing Director of the Locarno Film Festival