Locarno goes global with a streaming festival of short films

A tale of adultery crossing moral, religious and class barriers: "Sorkhe Tirah" (Dark Red), by Diana Saqeb (Afghanistan). Locarno Film Festival

Film festivals traditionally bring works from all over the world to a specific place, but the Locarno Film Festival is experimenting the other way round: reaching out to the world. On Friday it launches an online streaming short-film competition, where viewers can vote from anywhere on the planet.

This content was published on January 31, 2020 - 14:00
swissinfo.ch

It is the second edition of Locarno Shorts Weeks, which started in experimental mode last year, reaching a much larger audience than expected: more than 4,000 viewers from 92 countries followed the daily postings in 2019.

The novelty now is that viewers can vote, giving marks from 1 to 5 for each film, selected from different sections of Locarno Film Festival of 2018: ‘Pardo di domani’ (Tomorrow’s leopard), the short-films programme, Open Doors (dedicated to South Asia in 2018) and Signs of Life (now called Moving Ahead), for experimental films.

Starting on February 1, Locarno Shorts Weeks will present a new film every day, each one being available for a week on the streaming platform, for free. In total, there are 23 films from 19 countries. You can follow the festival here – and by voting for the shorts, you have the chance to win four accreditations for Locarno73, in summer, and a two-night stay for two people at Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano.

Dreamscape: "Smert Menya" (The Death of Father Men) uses the extensive data on the Russian rail system as a way to trace the circumstances of the murder of Russian Orthodox priest, theologian and writer Alexander Vladimirovich Men in 1990. Locarno Film Festival

On the search for new talent

Short films are usually the format in which young and aspiring directors make their first works, and they should not be considered an amateurish endeavour; on the contrary: in these first films the authors put years of experience and reflection in order to offer the best of themselves.

If shorts, in terms of production, are an easier way of introducing oneself in the film world, they still struggle with distribution, even in the age of free digital platforms. This is why initiatives, such as parallel programmes dedicated to short films in the most prestigious festivals, are still such a coveted opportunity for budding film-makers.  

The format is not just for beginners, however. Many of cinema’s greatest authors, such as Jean-Luc Godard (“Khan Khanne”, “Une Catastrophe”), Claire Denis (“Contact”, “Voilà l’enchaînement”) and David Lynch (“What did Jack do?”; “Ant Head”), sometimes also tinker with shorter works, out of the industry standards, to develop more radical narratives, experimental ideas or personal caprices. 

Two of the best films by American director Jim Jarmusch, for example, were made first as shorts before becoming acclaimed features - “Stranger than Paradise” and “Coffee and Cigarettes”.

"The Glorious Acceptance Speech of Nicolas Chauvin": An inglorious flashback on the life of the apocryphal hero who gave his name to chauvinism. Locarno Film Festival

Locarno is not only the most important Swiss film festival, it is also one of the oldest, and among the main European ones on a par with Cannes, Berlin and Venice. Its investment in fostering young talent has reinforced its standing as a privileged space not only for aspiring authors but also critics, producers, designers and all other fields connected to the film industry.  

The Locarno Academy, comprising the Critics Academy (of which swissinfo.ch is a media partner), Film-makers Academy, and Industry Academy, plus the newly established Basecamp, now enters its 12th consecutive year, attracting young talents from Switzerland and abroad, some of whom have already had the chance to return to Locarno as professionals.  

Locarno Shorts in short

Feb.01 LOS QUE DESEAN Switzerland/Spain, Spanish

Feb.02 A ROOM WITH A COCONUT VIEW Thailand, Thai

Feb.03 JE SORS ACHETER DES CIGARETTES France, French

Feb.04 THE LAST POST OFFICE Bangladesh, Bengali

Feb.05 SASHLELI (Eraser) Georgia, Georgian

Feb.06 TOURNEUR Germany, no dialogue

Feb.07 LA CARTOGRAPHE Canada, English/French

Feb.08 HEART OF HUNGER Netherlands, English/German

Feb.09 RENEEPOPTOSIS United States, English

Feb.10 TRADITION Sri Lanka, Sinhalese

Feb.11 ICI LE CHEMIN DES ÂNES Switzerland, French

Feb.12 A COLD SUMMER NIGHT India, Konkani/Marathi

Feb.13 VESLEMØY'S SONG Canada, English

Feb.14 THE SILENCE OF THE DYING FISH Greece, Greek

Feb.15 LA MÁXIMA LONGITUD DE UN PUENTE Colombia/Argentina, Spanish

Feb.16 SORKHE TIRAH (Dark Red) Afghanistan, Persian/Dari

Feb.17 LE DISCOURS D'ACCEPTATION GLORIEUX DE NICOLAS CHAUVIN France, French

Feb.18 SMERT MENYA (The Death of Father Men) Russia, no dialogue

Feb.19 KAUKAZAS Lithuania, Lithuanian

Feb.20 CIRCUIT Switzerland, No dialogue

Feb.21 DIA Pakistan/United Kingdom, Urdu/English

Feb.22 OUT Israel, Hebrew/Arabic

Feb.23 D'UN CHÂTEAU L'AUTRE Belgium, French

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