Swiss festivals look for alternatives beyond the virtual world

Today, nearly all cultural offers in the world have migrated to the virtual realm. But some cultural giants, such as the Locarno Film Festival, are looking for other ways to make a mark in their field besides putting their content online.

Museums, art galleries, theatres, music and film festivals, and even cinemas, have made their shows, collections and premieres available on the web. This new way of consuming and appreciating arts and culture may have broken boundaries – you can visit museums all over the world without leaving your sofa, for instance – but the direct experience, the immediate contact and the collective experience have all been lacking.

Some museums in Switzerland plan to re-open their doors in the third phase of easing Covid-19 restrictions (June 8), but the public is still a bit wary of resuming life as it was before the pandemic. The summer festivals, including the dozens of open-air music events, have all been cancelled, including some planned for early autumn, such as Zurich’s Theaterspektakel. So far, the only major event still holding on to its original schedule is the Zurich Film Festival, slated to start on September 24. But it’s still too early to predict the state of affairs even for next month.

If going virtual became the most obvious solution for everyone, the Locarno Film Festival has recently announced an original alternative. The organisers are still studying other ways to compensate for the cancellation of this year’s festival, but they have already announced that they will be streaming the short-film competition (Pardo di Domani) online.

The main novelty, however, is “The Films After Tomorrow” initiative, which aims to support independent films. Productions that were halted because of the pandemic are eligible to compete: ten films from Switzerland and ten from abroad, with two winners to be awarded a CHF70,000 prize ($72,000) “to make sure those films can be completed and reach their intended target: the audience”. More information on how to apply or take part in the screenings is available on the Locarno Film Festival website.


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