Locarno fights for its place on festival circuit

The risk of bad weather has prompted Locarno to build more indoor screens Keystone

Fierce competition among international film festivals may force Locarno to limit the range of films on offer, says the event's president, Marco Solari.

This content was published on August 3, 2002 minutes

Marco Solari says that while most festivals can never hope to compete with the world's top three events - Berlin, Venice and Cannes - the proliferation of smaller festivals may force some - such as Locarno - to cater specifically for certain genres in future.

"Competition is really tough among the smaller festivals," Solari told swissinfo. "We have survive and to keep growing, otherwise we'll soon drop out of the race.

"This year's budget has risen from SFr7 million to SFr9 million and we have to be able to put up that kind of money by 2005 - which is no easy task. If we can't, we won't be able to grow and we might have to become a niche festival."

Funding secure - for the moment

Solari said funding was secure until 2004, but beyond that it was "in the lap of the gods". This year, roughly SFr4 million has been provided by subsidies, SFr3.5 from sponsorship and SFr1.5 from ticket sales, he explained.

"I think we're fairly well covered for this year," Solari said. "But it's always extremely difficult to stay in the black, even though we managed to do so last year."

Solari said it was crucial to provide the festival's artistic team - responsible for putting the programme together - with a guaranteed budget.

"The artistic director has to be able to make the best of what's around, but that's a bit like picking mushrooms: if it hasn't rained, there are no mushrooms to pick."

More indoor screens

A substantial part of this year's budget has been devoted to building a "Città del Cinema", providing more indoor screening rooms. The main auditorium, the Fevi, will also be linked to the other screening rooms.

"We're much better equipped than last year to cope with any downpours - about 5,000 people will be able to watch films in these newly adapted buildings, so at least they'll be under cover."

Solari said one of the biggest problems facing Locarno was the lack of infrastructure in place at the lakeside town, especially accommodation.

"There's not even a five star hotel in Locarno, which means that we have to rely on [towns like] Ascona and even Lugano," says Solari. "This could pose a problem for us in future."


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