The 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival

The 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival runs from August 4 to 14, and there will be films galore against the magnificent backdrop of Lake Maggiore. It is Giona A. Nazzaro's first Locarno festival as director after he took over early this year from Lili Hinstin, who resigned after two years.

Difficult time for cinema

Nazzaro has been in charge of the Critics' Week at the Venice International Film Festival since 2016 and has been a presenter at Locarno since 2009. As director, he plans to continue the Locarno festival's tradition of presenting author films. He took over at the helm at a difficult time for cinema: apart from the coronavirus crisis, structural change due to competition from streaming services has been problematic.

The opening film makes very clear the extent to which cinema is changing and streaming is on the rise — Netflix has the rights to Beckett. The thriller will be available on Netflix before the end of the festival, unheard of in the past.

Beckett tells the story of a US citizen who is hunted down after an accident while on vacation in Greece. John David Washington, the son of Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, plays the lead character. The actor starred in Spike Lee's Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman and Christopher Nolan's Tenet. The film opens the film festival on August 4 in Piazza Grande square.

Competing for a Golden Leopard

No main prize was awarded last year because of the pandemic situation. This year, 17 films are in the running for the Golden Leopard in the international competition, the Concorso Internazionale. Eliza Hittman, the US director who won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2020 for Never Rarely Sometimes Always, heads the jury. Fans are looking forward to the Swiss film Soul of a Beast about a teenage father, as well as the Swiss-Austrian-German co-production Monte Verità, about a group of dropouts at the beginning of the 20th century — among them the psychoanalyst Otto Gross and the writer Hermann Hesse. Both films are competing for the top prize along with with Abel Ferrara's entry, the thriller Zeros and Ones.

The German production Niemand ist bei den Kälbern (No One is with the Calves), based on Alina Herbing's debut novel of the same name, is vying for the Concorsi Cineasti del presente young talent award. The story is about Christin, who is fed up with country life and dreams of the big city.

Targeting young audiences

For the first time, there is a prize for filmmakers who introduce younger audiences to cinema, the Locarno Kids Award la Mobiliare. The aim is to give children and young people a special place in the festival audience. The first laureate is Mamoru Hosoda, a Japanese animated film director. His new film Belle is about the influence of social networks on the young generation and will premiere on August 9.