Lili Hinstin has stepped down as artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival after two years due to differences with the event’s top management.
The Paris-based Hinstin had been appointed in August 2018 becoming the prominent Swiss event’s second female chief since its founding in 1946 and one of the few women to head an A-list fest around the world.
“The Locarno Film Festival, under the Presidency of Marco Solari, and the Artistic Director Lili Hinstin decided today by mutual agreement to end their working relationship,” the festival said on Thursday in a statement.
“Having acknowledged their diverging strategic views,” the statement added, they “decided by mutual consent to follow separate ways.”
The Locarno statement noted that the fest expressed “its gratitude” to Hinstin “for her intense work in the artistic field over the past two years and wishes her all the best for the future.”
Locarno’s board, which is headed by Solari, the Swiss entrepreneur who has long been in charge of the fest, will soon meet to “discuss succession related matters.”
Hinstin had joined Locarno in 2018, taking the reins from Italy’s Carlo Chatrian, who went on to become Berlinale co-director.
She previously headed the Entrevues Belfort Intl. Film Festival in France, where she had been artistic director since 2013. Prior to joining Entrevues Belfort Hinstin had served as deputy artistic director of the Paris-based international Film Festival Cinema du Reel from 2011 to 2013. In 2001, she set up her own production company, Les Films du Daut Tigre, and was later responsible for the film-related activities of the Academy of France in Rome from 2005 to 2009.
Under Hinstin’s leadership Locarno, during the 2019 physical edition of which she was in charge, raised the gender balance considerably to roughly 40% of the selected features for that edition being directed or co-directed by female filmmakers, while steering clear of “any type of quota mindset,” as she told Variety at the time.
Hinstin also gave the prominent indie cinema fest a bit more edge with the appointment of a younger programming team than her predecessor and the introduction of a reconfigured midnight movie strand to the fest’s popular Piazza Grande section.
This year, after the fest was cancelled due to COVID-19, Hinstin launched an innovative initiative to support independent cinema called “Locarno 2020 – For The Future of Films.”
Though the festival did not lose luster under Hinstin’s guidance, Locarno’s industry side suffered, possibly due to friction with the artistic side. Nadia Dresti, the fest’s longtime Industry Days chief stepped down this year in January – while remaining on board as a consultant – and was replaced by Paris-based sales exec Valentina Merli who also recently, and quietly, bowed out.
So Locarno will be restarting afresh after the pandemic with new leadership in both key positions.