Press Releases  ·  01 | 07 | 2021

The Locarno Film Festival joins with UNHCR to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention.

 Gillian Triggs, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, will be our guest at Locarno to commemorate  seventy years of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees.  

On Sunday, 8 August, at Piazza Grande, she will greet the audience before the world premiere screening of The Alleys by Jordanian filmmaker Bassel Ghandour. On Monday, 9 August, Triggs will be at the Forum @Rotonda by la Mobiliare, participating in a panel discussion with the audience, moderated by journalist Alessia Caldelari. 


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Following the 2018 celebrations in Locarno that marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with guest Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, the Festival renews its collaboration with UN Geneva.  


This year it will celebrate the 70 years since the signing of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Convention is a landmark human rights instrument, , adopted on 28 July 1951, that defines the term "refugee" and specifies the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. 


Marking this significant anniversary, the 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival will feature two special events organized together with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, which has been mandated as the guardian of  the Convention.  


On Sunday 8 August, Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection will be in Piazza Grande to greet the Festival audience before the screening of the evening's leading film, The Alleys, the debut feature from Jordanian filmmaker Bassel Ghandour, best known for writing and producing Theeb, the 2016 Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner. The Alleys' grimly humorous crime drama tells a neighborhood story with highly topical parallels, centered on issues of personal reputation, religious freedom, and female empowerment.  


On Monday 9 August at the Forum @Rotonda, Gillian Triggs will meet the Festival audience again in a panel conversation moderated by RSI journalist Alessia Caldelari. 


Tickets and season tickets for the screening on the 8 August in Piazza Grande will be available for purchase online from mid-July here.   

Members of the press who wish to attend, can register and gain accreditation here. 

The panel conversation on Monday 9 August at the Forum@Rotonda will be open to all with free admission. 


Gillian Triggs - bio


Gillian Triggs is the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant High Commissioner for Protection with UNHCR, taking up her appointment in September 2019. She is an international public lawyer who has held several appointments in service to human rights and the refugee cause, including as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Gillian oversees UNHCR's protection work to support millions of refugees, asylum-seekers, those who have been forcibly displaced within their own country, and stateless.    

A dual national of Britain and Australia, Gillian has held some leadership roles, including as Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London, President of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal, Chair of the UN Independent Expert Panel of Inquiry into Abuse of Office and Harassment in UNAIDS, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor (Emerita) of International Law at the University of Sydney, and Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. 

Gillian has supported many not-for-profit groups, including most recently as Chair of Justice Connect, which connects 10,000 lawyers to provide pro bono advice to asylum-seekers and others needing legal support. She is also the author of many books and papers on international law, including International Law: Contemporary Principles and Practice (2nd ed. 2011) and Speaking Up (2018). 

In July 2021, Gillian was awarded a Ruth Bader Ginsberg Inaugural Medal of Honour in recognition of her fight for the rule of law and gender equality. 

Locarno Film Festival

Since 1946, amid the cultural impetus of post-war reconstruction, the heart of quality cinema has never stopped beating in Locarno, Switzerland. The Locarno Film Festival attracts both cinephiles and mainstream movie fans with films screened in venues such as the Piazza Grande – the world's biggest open-air screen, with a capacity of 8,000 seats – and offers a unique location to discover the best of Swiss and world cinema. 

Important info

Please visit the official website of the Locarno Film Festival for the latest news on current COVID protection measures in Piazza Grande and at the Forum @Rotonda, as at all other Festival venues as well.