Michel Merkt: Locarno Best Independent Producer Award 2017
This August, the Locarno Best Independent Producer Award 2017 will go to Swiss producer Michel Merkt.
Born in Geneva, Merkt’s skills have been crucial to the making of several international hits that have recently brought Switzerland to center stage on the international filmmaking scene.
As Locarno Festival Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian puts it: “From David Cronenberg to Walter Hill, Xavier Dolan and Philippe Garrel, not to mention two stand-out events of the past film season, Ma vie de Courgette and Toni Erdmann: in just a few years Michel Merkt has worked his way forward to the leading edge of global independent filmmaking. What I like about his work to date is how he takes you by surprise, transcending the confines of genre and nationality that have so often defined the output of his colleagues. His curiosity, combined with his undeniable instincts, have made him one of the leading players on the contemporary scene.”
The Locarno Festival Award intends to pay tribute not just to the outstanding talents of a “man of the cinema”, but also to the intelligence of a producer whose work is reshaping his professional profile within an industry where, in Merkt’s own words, “the producer’s task should be to smooth the path for filmmakers, bringing their vision and ideas to the screen, and then to find them an audience.” It’s an approach based on working as a team, a kind of film production, which “should involve the communication of new world views and offer visibility to new cultures”, while never losing sight of the final objective: “what the public wants.”
The Best Independent Producer Award “Raimondo Rezzonico” is offered by the municipality of Minusio and was established in 2002 to honor the memory of the President of the Locarno Festival from 1980 to 1999. Among the past winners the prize, which for 15 years Locarno has awarded to leading players in international independent production, are Mike Medavoy, Christine Vachon and David Linde.