Press Releases  ·  18 | 02 | 2023

First Look 2023: Focus on UK Film

Now in its 12th edition, First Look, the Works-in-Progress initiative of Locarno Pro, has proved itself to be a vital post-production incubator for international arthouse productions, providing valuable support to works from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Israel, Poland, the Baltic countries, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland and Germany.

First Look’s focus during the 76th edition of the Locarno Film Festival will be on independent UK film, which has played a leading role presenting highly acclaimed national cinema throughout the history of the Festival. From the memorable Pardo d’oro winners of 1972 (Bleak Moments by Mike Leigh) or 1988 (Distant Voices, Still Lives by Terence Davies) to more recently LOLA by Andrew Legge (Fuori concorso - Out of competition 2022) and Charlotte Colbert's She Will (Swatch First Feature Award, 2022). Think of the popularity of UK films with the Locarno public – most memorably with Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake (Prix du Public UBS, 2016). Plus there have been monumental retrospectives that have brought truly special moments to Locarno cinema goers such as the Retrospettiva of Powell & Pressburger in 1982.

UK stars, producers, and directors have given the Locarno Film Festival some of its most unforgettable moments over the years, from the arrival of Dracula himself, Sir Christopher Lee (Excellence Award Moët & Chandon, 2011), the wisdom of trailblazing producer Jeremy Thomas (Best Producer Award - Premio Raimondo Rezzonico 2005), the frightening brilliance of filmmaker Prano Bailey Bond (Jury, International Competition, 2022), and the sheer star presence of Daisy Edgar-Jones (Leopard Club Award, 2022) or Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Excellence Award Davide Campari 2022).

In partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), Locarno’s First Look (4 - 6 August 2023) will select 6 UK films currently in post-production, providing their producers with a chance to present the projects to international industry professionals attending the Locarno Film Festival. Within the context of Locarno Pro, the projects will be presented to an audience of sales agents, buyers, programmers and representatives from post-production funds. The objective is to give all of the producers the chance to forge key industry connections that will help the films in a number of ways, from enabling them to complete production to promoting both their international sales prospects and festival opportunities. In addition to making their physical pitches at the Festival, producers will also be able to showcase their projects in the online space, via the Locarno Film Festival Online Digital Library, reserved for accredited industry professionals who are not attending the Festival in person.

Giona A. Nazzaro, Artistic Director: “UK cinema has always been able to capture the spirit of the times, to intercept young and emerging cinema. An extraordinary breeding ground for talent - as the recent editions of the Locarno Film Festival have shown - UK film production tirelessly continues to deliver surprises. This is why we are delighted with this year's First Look, because it allows us to further forge a friendship in the name of young, quality cinema. This friendship with UK cinema is one which we feel certain will be with us for a very long time to come.

Markus Duffner, Head of Locarno Pro: “We’re very excited to focus on the United Kingdom for our 12th edition of the Work-in-Progress section of Locarno Pro, with the aim of helping their completion and launch the international career of six brand new UK films.”

Katie Ellen, Head of Distribution and Commercial Strategy, BFI: “We enjoy a great relationship with Locarno and are delighted that the festival has offered the UK to be this year’s country of focus for their First Look initiative. We shall be able to uncover new films from some of our most exciting filmmakers at a vital stage in their progression from production to screen.  These projects will really benefit from this exceptional exposure to sales agents and festival programmers from around the world, increasing their export potential and audience reach.

How to apply

Producers can apply through the BFI from today until 11 May 2023. To be eligible for selection, producers need to be able to provide a rough cut of at least 60 minutes at any stage in the post-production process. In addition, eligible projects must not yet have an international sales agent already attached, and the principal production company for the film must be based in the United Kingdom.


A jury comprising international festival directors and curators will award several prizes: The Creativity Media First Look Award, which covers services towards the completion of films in post-production up to the value of €50,000, an award from leading industry magazine Le Film Français with advertising space to a value of €5,600 and a prize offered by Jannuzzi Smith - worth €8,500 - for the design of an international poster, giving the selected film its crucial visual identity in the bustling world of festivals. The winners will be announced on Sunday, 6 August 2023.


Locarno Pro is possible thanks to the support of the Federal Office of Culture / MEDIA Desk Suisse.