All the films selected for Locarno are stored in this bunker beneath the Palazzo Fevi. On the left, the films in the retrospective; on the right, the hard discs of the films in competition.
Order and precision: that is the motto of Danny Zeiner, responsible for recording and sorting the works by section. For each 35mm feature film there are six reels of 20 minutes, with each reel made up of 600 metres of film.
Almost all the films shown in 35mm and 16mm are in the retrospective, dedicated this year to the cinema of West Germany.
Each film is checked and then mounted on spools by Davide Dalet and his "print certification" colleagues.
The film is run through fingers to discover any tears or poor repairs which could block the projector. These little defects are then fixed by hand.
Davide Dalet doing some quality control.
Unlike with digital, with film you can read what's going on. From subtitles to the soundtrack – usually blue – on the side.
Davide Dalet started "working" in the cinema aged eight alongside his father, a projectionist.
Cut and paste: repairing film needs plenty of patience and accuracy.
In the event of serious problems, technicians can watch a film on this editing table without the need for a projector.
At Locarno, most 16mm and 35mm films are shown in the Ex Rex theatre, traditionally dedicated to the retrospective.
Pierre Ebollo, who has Cameroonian roots, is preparing the two projectors at the Ex Rex which run alternately.
A film is nothing more than a long series of images projected rapidly one after another – usually 24 times a second – which give the illusion of movement to the human eye.
Pierre Ebollo peers through his little window to check that everything is running as it should. At the end of a reel, a little mark appears at the top of the screen to tell the projectionist that it's time to start the other projector with the rest of the film.
The Ex Rex theatre is ready to welcome the Locarno public, who will enjoy the historic white seats for the last time. Inaugurated in 1966, the cinema is set to be totally renovated and become the Gran Rex.
It's thanks to the accuracy and patience of skilled film technicians that the public at Locarno can still savour the magic of cinema in 16mm or 35mm. swissinfo.ch accompanied them during preparations for the 69th film festival.