The Locarno Film Festival opens its doors today. The 76th edition and the last for its president, Marco Solari, has been at the helm of the event for more than twenty years. An opportunity to evaluate and imagine the future.
More than 210 films, including 17 in competition for Golden Leopard, will be shown through August 12 during the Locarno Film Festival, which starts today. A somewhat special edition number 76 for boss Marco Solari, as it marks the end of 23 years at the helm of the event.
At the beginning of 2024, Maja Hoffmann, University of Art, patron of Basel, will replace him at the head of the Loma Foundation in Arles, France. He announced a few days ago, that his candidacy would still need official approval in September by the festival’s general assembly.
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Giving emotions to the audience
For more than twenty years, Marco Solari has permeated and embodied the Ticino event. It made it grow, shine and enter the select list of the ten largest film festivals in the world. A few hours before kick-off, emotions were not yet evident in Ticino.
“I will stay focused until the last minute of the last day,” he explains in La Matinale de la RTS. And then we’ll see. Will it be a black hole, a gray hole? Will there be a hole? I do not know him. At the moment it is in full concentration so that all the spectators who come to Locarno enjoy the fun and the passion.
Giving a vision of Ticino
In addition to making it an unmissable event for film buffs, Marco Solari has always highlighted the political dimension of the event in the region. “Obviously the festival is above all a cultural event, but my idea was also that it would give more strength and clarity to Ticino, which has always had a little inferiority complex. I think that today with the festival, but also with the Italian University of Switzerland [qui a ouvert ses portes en 1995]And specialized institutes, and by culture in general, we gave the canton a new pride.”
Then the director emphasized that he had always had the support of the Berne Federation and cooperated very well with the Federal Office for Culture: “Alain Berset saw that the Locarno Festival was more than just a cultural event.” Italian speaking Switzerland. And if it is important for Italian-speaking Switzerland, it is important for all of Switzerland.
At the time of making this first assessment, Marco Solari also noted the economic importance, estimating that in twenty years, “the festival has brought about 750 million francs to the canton’s economy”.
Find international partners
Holding an event of this magnitude every year requires very large financial resources. Finding funding remains a “fundamental battle”. For Marco Solari, the first condition to get there is to have a good event. “It seemed to me that in recent years it was easier to find money because Locarno’s prestige, its name and its size made it easier for me.”
For the outgoing president, the next step is to find international partners. “Me, I had to stop at the Swiss partners because I didn’t have an international network. And at almost 80 years old, you should know [reconnaître] We’ve reached the limit. You need to know how to put the event in the hands of someone who, most likely, will know how to face the next one. I naturally hope that Ms. Hoffman, who owns the network, will bring in international partners.”
And Marco Solari concludes by imagining the future: “Sometimes I dream of seeing what the Locarno Festival will be like in 25 years. I really hope that it will maintain its place in the top ten biggest festivals in the world. I wish I had it, because Locarno is the cinema that makes you dream, laugh, cry, makes you think and gives voice to those who do not have it.”
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Interview conducted by: Alexandra Planink
Web adaptation: Andréanne Quartier-la-Tente
Locarno Film Festival, 2-12 August 2023