The Festival according to Lara Gut
She was an audience member as a child, and an actress as an adult. Such has been the world skiing champion's experience in Locarno. She loves everything about movies, unless you try showing her a horror film...
On skis she kept us holding our breath as she raced against time to become this year’s world champion, leaving every other skier in her wake. If there is one girl from Canton Ticino who has appeared on magazine covers all round the world, that must surely be Lara Gut. A clear-cut sporting talent who a few years ago made a favorable name for herself at Festival del film Locarno in the – for her – unusual capacity of movie actress. It was the 2012 edition of the Festival when the skier from Comano took to the big screen as one of the stars of Ticino director Niccolò Castelli’s film Tutti giù, in competition for the Cineasti del presente sidebar. The result? A hit with audiences, packed theaters for every screening and peaks of open curiosity and very emotional responses, especially for Lara Gut herself.
Well, yes, I have to say it was something very exciting for me, a real experience which made me richer as a person. You might not realize it straight away, but in the end the fact of having put myself on the line as an actress led me to discover a lot of things about myself. As an athlete I’m used to giving everything I have against the clock; on set it was a different kind of challenge and I had to measure up to a new profession which also asks one hundred percent of you.
What did it feel like to find yourself in a Festival atmosphere like Locarno and see yourself on the big screen?
You know, even my arrival in Locarno had something of Hollywood about it, because at the time I was busy training in Zermatt and so in order to attend the premiere I flew into Locarno by helicopter. Once there, it was wonderful to share the emotion with all the people that I had worked together with on set. Meeting up again in front of that amazing giant screen was something it would be hard to forget. It's not at all like seeing myself on television as a skier.
Had you already been to the Locarno Festival before as a spectator?
Yes, I’d been several times when I was younger and of course before my professional sports career took off, which has since tied me to the constant traveling that still dominates my life today. So I had already had the marvelous experience of being in Piazza Grande and enjoying a film in all kinds of weather. Including in the rain one time, because that’s one of the great things about the Festival, too – you don’t get washed away, even if you to stay to the end. Joking aside, sometimes we tend to forget just how special some of the places near home can be, like Locarno. That’s the truth: during the Festival Locarno is a city which people everywhere envy us. It’s a place pulsating with life.
On the subject of life, did your character in Niccolò Castelli’s film have anything in common with your real-life autobiography to date?
Not much, to be honest. Yes, there are pictures of when I fell at St. Moritz in 2008, but everything was put into a fictional context. In the film my character has a conflictual relationship with her mother, which is not at all the case in reality. Plus it goes without saying that for Tutti giù Niccolò wanted various young characters at a rites of passage moment in which they have to face up to adult life, with the kind of fragility and disorientation everybody goes through. In my case the focus was on the figure of an athlete who suddenly finds the dark side of her own loneliness. So the fact that we built up a story with all its developments inevitably took us somewhere completely different from what we could have shown in a documentary about my life.
So cinema broadens horizons. Do you find that on screen when you’re just watching a film, too?
I can certainly say I’m curious as a film fan, even though in recent years I haven’t been able to go to the movies as much as I’d have liked, because my sporting commitments take up most of my time. The way I see it, though, the big screen still retains its magic, it can take you to a completely different dimension thanks to the way it tells stories. We can watch movies on all kinds of devices today, but the movie theater has an irreplaceable fascination. As to my personal tastes, I don’t have any special preferences, I like to be surprised. As I kid I used to like action pictures, but then I started to enjoy other kinds of movies, too. There’s only one genre that I just can’t get into. If you put a horror movie on the screen you’ll find that’s the one sure way to make me get up and leave the theater.