Locarno Film Festival director quits over strategic differences

Lilli Hinstin worked on the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Locarno Film Festival. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Lili Hinstin has left the Locarno Film Festival – Switzerland’s most prestigious film event - after two years as festival director.

This content was published on September 24, 2020 - 14:58
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“Having acknowledged their diverging strategic views, the Locarno Film Festival and Lili Hinstin have decided by mutual consent to follow separate ways,” a statement on the festival website said on Thursday.

It went on to praise and thank Hinstin for her ‘intense work’. A replacement has not been appointed yet.

Hinstin, originally from France, worked on the 2019 and 2020 editions, replacing Carlo Chatrian, who left to run the Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival).

When her appointment was announced in August 2018, Hinstin said she was honoured to take over the reins of the 74-year-old film festival, which had become a “benchmark for cinephiles worldwide”. She pledged to put all her “experience and passion” into the role.

The 43-year-old was the second woman to lead the festival after Irene Bignardi.

Born in Paris in 1977, she previously ran her own production company as well as overseeing film-related activities of the Academy of France in Rome. She was also deputy artistic director of the Paris–based international film festival Cinéma du Réel from 2011-2013.

The 2019 edition of the Locarno festival, which focused on young filmmakers and experimental works by experienced directors without forgetting well-known blockbusters, was generally viewed as an overwhelming success. Some 157,500 people flocked to the southern Swiss city for the 11-day event, a slight increase on the previous edition.

But Covid-19 put a damper on the 2020 edition, which was hybrid, mostly online, with several screenings in three Ticino cinemas. The Locarno and Muralto theatres together totalled 5,950 entries, while the festival's digital platform registered nearly 320,000 visitors.

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