News  ·  23 | 03 | 2023

Spring Academy: “Find a Film!” was the challenge for 10 filmmakers let loose in the RSI film and image archives

Mentored by Radu Jude, the talents taking part in the Locarno Film Festival workshop set about exploring the audiovisual archives of broadcaster RSI. Their brief was to use what they found to create ten short films, to be presented at Locarno76

© Locarno Film Festival

Building on the success of the workshops held in the first two years by Béla Tarr and Michelangelo Frammartino, L’immagine e la parola and the Spring Academy brought to Locarno another high-profile figure on the international cinema scene, Romanian director Radu Jude, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2021 Berlinale. Ten filmmakers were picked from the applicants from all over the world who responded to an international call. The participants won the opportunity to benefit from Jude’s skilled guidance as they responded to the task of putting together a montage film based on images found in the RSI archives, one of the richest collections of audiovisual material in all Switzerland. 

The workshop program

True to its title, the "Find a Film!" workshop challenged participants to identify the found footage on which to base their films, searching for images of the past which they could then inject with fresh life and meaning in a new audiovisual narrative. But that was not the only rule of the game: an additional objective was to use this material on Switzerland, its land and people, to create films which could dispel some of the myths about Swiss society and identity that have built up over time. 

The first days of the program saw the workshop activities running alongside those of L’immagine e la parola (12-13 March): as part of the literary event the participants were able to follow the masterclasses and pick up some initial theoretical ideas on how to approach the subsequent research and editing stages. Next came three days of intensive collaboration with five RSI archivists, led by the new RSI Archives manager, Brecht Declercq, who helped the students search for material on the web portal, accommodating their requests, clarifying the rights of more than 600 clips and supplying some 350 items, all for possible re-use in their new, personal short films. 

The final four days were devoted entirely to the editing process: Radu Jude, who himself has often worked with archive material during his career, turning an interrogative gaze on his own country of Romania and its past, supervised and tutored the participants on the narrative and artistic positioning of the material they had obtained, in a series of intense discussions held day by day. On the final day the filmmakers showed their first rough cuts to Jude, who gave them some initial feedback before they set about completing their films. 

In the words of workshop participant Diego Murillo, “the Spring Academy is a collective experiment like no other. The way it is designed and run makes it impossible not to get involved and attached in all ways possible. Working with Radu Jude was great. Personally, it made me confront many ideas about my work and what I want to do. The archive was also a creative tool like no other, the freedom it gives within its constraints pushes you in different directions creatively. You also really feel the Locarno Film Festival cares about filmmakers during the process. They make you feel you are there for a reason and that you are now integrated in their web. And this is the type of support we need. Meeting others like you is also what matters, just being there present and sharing the passion – or contempt in some cases – for cinema, means everything.” 


Alongside in-depth discussions, field work and socializing, the young filmmakers also found time for some moments of creative exchange which only served to make the whole experience even more stimulating and enriching. One of these was a little retrospective on the short films of Agnese Laposi, winner of the study grant at last year’s workshop, while there was also an opportunity to present this year’s recipient, Coline Confort.   

All we can do now is look forward to the upcoming edition of the Locarno Film Festival (2-12 August 2023), which will offer a first chance to see the ten short films and (re)discover Swiss history and traditions from new and different perspectives. 

The third edition of the Spring Academy was made possible by a collaboration of CISA (International Academy of Audiovisual Sciences) and the Ticino Film Commission, in co-production with RSI and with the support of PalaCinema Locarno, Enjoy Arena, Hotel Du Lac, Hertz and the Majid Foundation.