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An integral part of the Locarno Film Festival experience has long been the splendor of cinema of the past. The Festival is world renowned for its Retrospectives, its tireless championing of classic titles, its highlighting of forgotten and undiscovered gems from film history, and its refusal to see cinema as only a phenomenon of our present context – as any attendee of the Festival will be keenly aware. Since 2021 the Festival has also played an active role in restoring older films to their former glory. For Locarno75 alone, the Festival partnered with the Berlin- and Zurich-based film lab Cinegrell on the restoration of Nos vies privées (Our Private Lives, 2007) by Denis Côté and with Cinemateca Portuguesa on O Dia do Desespero by Manoel De Oliveira (1992).
Now in its 76th edition, Locarno will further strengthen this long-standing bond with our shared cinematic heritage. In the context of Locarno Pro’s Heritage Online project, the Festival is launching the Heritage Online Contest, an open call for applications for international classic and library films in need of complete or partial restoration.
A jury of three international industry professionals will evaluate the applications and the winning restoration project will be announced during the Locarno Pro Award Ceremony, on Sunday 6 August. Thanks to a collaboration with Cinegrell, the winning film of the Heritage Online contest will then be the recipient of a complete, world-class restoration service. The restoration process will commence in autumn 2023 and will conclude in the first semester of the following year. After that, the restored title will premiere at the 77th Locarno Film Festival in the Histoire(s) du cinéma: Heritage Online section.
Giona A. Nazzaro, Artistic Director, Locarno Film Festival: “The quality of the relationship that a festival is able to weave with film history, its heritage, its preservation and its dissemination, are at the heart of its very definition and position. Only a strong awareness towards film heritage and the still unexplored areas of its history can enable a festival to position itself as a credible interlocutor towards cinema at a time when the moving image and audiovisual industries are going through a moment of historical transition. The relationship with film heritage is an open dialogue with the present and the future of cinema itself. It is necessary, therefore, to have a vigilant and open gaze at the options that best enable us to place ourselves at the service of a cinema, as Roberto Rossellini meant, that is the heritage of all humanity. ‘The world can also be saved one film at a time’".
Markus Duffner, Head of Locarno Pro: "Heritage Online’s mission to bring our cinematic heritage back to life goes hand-in-hand with the need for updated and restored film materials, enabling classic titles to fit into the newest distribution models available on the market—and even then, not only there. We are delighted to be able to further consolidate our collaboration with our long-time partner Cinegrell and thus further contribute to the on-going restoration of our shared film heritage”.
Nicole Allemann, Head of Restoration & Lab Cinegrell: “Being Heritage Online Partner of the Locarno Film Festival is a privilege for Cinegrell whose core business has been restoring films for many years. With our expertise and love for film we will make a specific project accessible not only for now, but also for future generations. Saving cultural film heritage in its best quality is what the name Cinegrell stands for”.
The Heritage Online Contest is open to feature films from all over the world that premiered in 2009 or before and applicants must demonstrate that they are the rightful owners of the works in question. Applications are open from March 8 to April 28, 2023.
For the first time, Locarno Pro, will offer, in the framework of Heritage Online, a full day dedicated to Heritage Film industry, on Monday 7th of August, 2023. Panel discussions on the state of the heritage film distribution, case studies and presentations of brand-new restored films, as well as industry screenings of classics will be the core of this day. The full program will be announced in July 2023.
Heritage Online is a Worldwide Heritage and Library Films database dedicated exclusively to industry professionals. Rights holders of heritage and library films can connect with streaming platforms and distributors, with a mission to help classic titles find a new commercial life and facilitate their distribution. On Heritage Online, streamers and other buyers can watch the available titles, consult the relevant detailed technical information – including the availability of films in the various territories – and get in touch directly with rights holders. Rights holders (international sales agents, film libraries, archives, institutes, and restorers’ associations among others) can share their catalogues with potential clients.
Locarno Pro is possible thanks to the support of the Federal Office of Culture / MEDIA Desk Suisse.