Locarno festival loses director to small screen

In happier times: Olivier Père (left) and Marco Solari in the Piazza Grande Keystone

Olivier Père, artistic director of the Locarno International Film Festival, is leaving Ticino after three years to become managing director of Arte France Cinéma, the film division of Franco-German television network Arte.

This content was published on August 28, 2012 - 10:13

The unexpected move leaves a Père-shaped void at top of the renowned festival, where 8,000 people gather annually in the Piazza Grande to gaze at one of the largest open-air screens in the world.

Festival organisers have called a board meeting for September 4 to discuss a possible successor. Père’s predecessor,  Frédéric Maire, also only served three years as director.

Père had previously headed Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight from 2004 to 2009. During his time at Locarno, he positioned the festival as a solid launch pad for edgier art-house films whose commercial prospects were lower than the crossover fare often favoured by directors at other high-profile festivals.

This year, for example, the Golden Leopard was awarded to French director Jean-Claude Brisseau’s low-budget drama La Fille de Nulle Part (The Girl from Nowhere). The film was apparently made on a budget of just €62,000 (SFr75,000) of Brisseau’s own money and was shot with one camera in his own apartment.

In a statement, Locarno president Marco Solari said, “I am very grateful to Olivier Père for the work he did in these three years, consolidating Locarno’s standing in the international fest arena.”

Père said, “I leave the festival with deep sadness, but also immense satisfaction for the job I did at Locarno.”

“Intellectual passion”

Swiss newspapers were surprised by the news. The Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich said Père’s resignation was a “bitter loss” which “comes too soon”.

It said Père didn’t seem to share Solari’s confidence that Locarno could become as important for the world as it currently is for Switzerland – “otherwise he wouldn’t have taken a Paris desk job”.

The paper said the 41-year-old Frenchman had brought an “intellectual passion which Locarno desperately needed”.

“It would be criminal if the élan and cosmopolitan spirit which Père injected into the festival is thoughtlessly squandered,” it concluded.

Olivier Père

Appointed artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival on September 25, 2008.

A French national, Père was born in Marseilles in 1971 and studied literature at the Sorbonne University.

Hired by the French Cinematheque in 1995, he quickly became responsible for planning and organising numerous tributes and thematic reviews. From 1996 he was collaborating with the Entrevues film festival of Belfort, which organises retrospectives.

From 1997 he collaborated on the cultural magazine "Les Inrockuptibles" through contributions on the topics of film, television and DVDs.

From 2004-2009, he was managing director of the Directors’ Fortnight, a prestigious independent section of the Cannes Film Festival, organised by the French association of film directors.

From 2009-2012, artistic director of the International Locarno Film Festival.

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