Short circuits: the Pardi di domani section
Waits and absences, massive bodies and tiny baby hands, figures lost in the undergrowth, hopeful followers of Napoleon, mysterious women and seal-women, dancing artists and aspiring beauty queens: it’s a varied world, that of the Pardi di domani, the Festival section dedicated to shorts by young directors. «We don’t start by looking for specific themes or styles», explains Alessandro Marcionni, in charge of the section since 2009 and head of the selection committee. «We want to be 100% open and to let ourselves be surprised. And when making our choices, we try to be as representative as possible of what we have received, in all its diversity. Basically we don’t want to decide what cinema is for us, but rather represent what is happening around the world».
With this approach, the four selectors sifted through over 3,000 shorts, some submitted by their directors, others tracked down during research and trips, in order to select the 12 Swiss titles and 28 international titles in competition. «We discover what we were looking for only after we’ve found it. There is however an essential starting point, which is identifying potential: a very personal way of looking, thanks to which the director can continue to tell their stories». Indeed, after presenting their films among the Pardini, plenty of filmmakers return to Locarno, often with features. Marcionni gives an example: «Milagros Mumenthaler started with us with his first short, then he presented the film Abrir puertas y ventanas, winning the Pardo d’oro, and this year he’s back in the Concorso».
But it’s worth remembering that shorts shouldn’t just be seen as a necessary step along the way to making a feature-length film. Instead the two formats have a relationship that’s similar to the one between short stories and novels: «It’s a narrative form first, before being a visiting card for the feature film industry. For many directors, making shorts is a choice», said Marcionni. This is clear from the collection Filmando en Cuba con Abbas Kiarostami, in which a nine-minute work by the great director is flanked by the work of his students. And small films can still attract big names: this year in Rhapsody we meet Gérard Depardieu («a new, incredibly sweet Depardieu»), while La Femme et le TGV boasts Pardo alla carriera winner Jane Birkin. «In selecting our films, we are not looking for famous celebrity endorsers, but when we see that a renowned figure is dedicating themselves to young directors we do like to put emphasis on it, to highlight not just the talent of these newcomers but also the power of the short as a narrative form, able to win over even experienced actors».
But Pardi di domani is not just about the meeting between young artists and established names, or between different trends and styles. It is also an opportunity to forge creative alliances. Like the bond between Camilo Restrepo and Kiro Russo. They met last year when showing their shorts at Locarno, and now they are both back with new works on which they helped each other, Restrepo as associate producer on Viejo calavera and Russo as artistic advisor on Cilaos. «In this way, the Festival becomes a place where people meet and create the connections that allow them to make films».Sara Groisman