Locarno Film Festival 2017: Five films to look out for
A cursory glance at Locarno and you notice several things: it’s in the Alps, there’s a lake, and it hosts a film festival. You idly inspect 20 Swiss francs – these notes are exquisite – and you’re presented with a red hued vision of Piazza Grande, containing an open-air cinema so colossal you doubt you have the sensory capacity to match it. The butterfly and iris, indicating beauty and light, adorn the reverse.
Like Cannes Locarno Film Festival has its 70th instalment this year. Like Cannes the competition prize is golden, a leopard opposed to a palm. Like Cannes the usual throng of filmmakers, critics and people who matter will gather, all with cinema on their minds, some with canapés. And like Cannes a small and wealthy town will suffer a seismic infiltration for ten days, brace itself sufficiently, and present leading commercial and art house fare to an entitled, curious and often unforgiving audience. Writer-director Olivier Assayas, last seen working with Roman Polanski, heads the jury, while actor Adrien Brody will receive the Leopard Club Award, for which he will be pleased.
It starts today and here are five films worthy of your attention:
A short American portrait directed by John Carroll Lynch, Lucky stars Harry Dean Stanton as the titular 90-year-old atheist entering an existential period after surviving his peers. Premiered to good reviews at SXSW, the film features Stanton’s regular collaborator David Lynch, which intrigues in itself.
French director Serge Bozon delivers an apparently feminist interpretation of RL Stevenson’s classic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Isabelle Huppert is the lead, her character’s transformation the result of an unfortunately aimed lightning bolt, which is at least a seductive premise.
Known for his long sequence shots, director Ben Russell offers a documentary two-hander that focuses on mining communities in distinct locations, Serbia and Suriname. Expect a political subtext to reveal itself from under the metronomic imagery.
Andrei Cretulescu brings Charleston to Locarno, and if the film is in the tradition of recent Romanian festival entries, it suggests unflinching social realism, insurmountable moral dilemmas and stern-faced acting. A deceased woman’s husband and lover bond over the object of their affection.
En el Séptimo Día (On the Seventh Day)
Indie stalwart Jim McKay hasn’t made a film in 13 years but returns to document the life of José, a Mexican immigrant who works as a delivery driver in Brooklyn. Said to feature a mesmerising performance from non-professional actor Fernando Cardona in the lead role, this promises intelligent and well-handled filmmaking.