Locarno’s Golden Leopard selection consistently puts up an array of films that are markedly weirder, more cutting-edge, and often less approachable than the offerings of the larger festivals that surround it. In 2013, the winner of the prize was Albert Serra’s Story of My Death which we gave a glowing review when we caught it at the 2014 Filmfest München. Last year, it was From What Is Before that took home the Leopard, with Horse Money also making its debut in the selection. In a phrase, Locarno is a barometer for avant-garde and cinematically adventurous filmmaking – often giving a strong indication of the directors and films that are going to making waves in the coming year.
Veteran director Chantal Akerman‘s No Home Movie heads the announcement as a deeply introspective film that meditates on the directors mother – and the changing world that she does not see from the confides of her apartment. On the other side of things, John C. Reilly continues his trajectory away from Hollywood and late night comedy into the shallower edges of arthouse in Rick Alverson’s Entertainment – a follow-up to 2012’s The Comedy, which starred Tim Heidecker (of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! fame) in the lead role – alongside Michael Cera, Amy Seimetz and Gregg Turkington.
Bakur Bakuradze’s Brother Dejan tracks Marko Nikolic as a retired Balkan army general, who has been relocated to the outskirts of a small mountain village. Julio Hernández Cordón’s Te Prometo Anarquía involves a love story between two men who donate blood to avoid having to work and eventually get embroiled with a crime syndicate. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour comes out of left field, like many Golden Leopard contenders, with few of the director’s films previously available in the West. With little sign of slowing down, Hong Sang-soo‘s Right Now, Wrong Then is set to play at Locarno right as Hill of Freedom finishes up its own festival run. Sang-soo is a prolific director, yet one who is simultaneously frequently typecast. With Jung Jaeyoung and Kim Minhee in the lead roles, Right Now, Wrong Then is unlikely to disappoint long-term fans of the director.
Vimukthi Jayasundara’s Dark in the White Light navigates between a monk striving for purity, an organ dealer looking to make money, a young woman in love, and a man who is both a “doctor and a demon” for the aforementioned characters. On the other hand, the emotionally provocative and compellingly performed James White from director Josh Mond offers a nuanced character study of 21st century apathy in the midst of crisis, with strong reception out of America this year. It also plays at Melbourne International Film Festival next month in Australia.
Ben Rivers‘s The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers is a study of the long history of filmmaking in Morocco that mediates between fiction and documentary. Meanwhile, out of Israel is Avishai Sivan’s Tikkun, a film that follows a young Orthodox Jew and his fall from grace as it roams through the surreal underworld of Tel Aviv.
The latest from Athina Rachel Tsangari‘s, Chevalier, is obviously a heavy hitter in the Locarno Competition. One of the figureheads of Greek New Wave1, Tsangari’s previous film Attenberg (2012) established the director as one of the most imaginative, political and cutting minds of the modern cinema landscape. It features performances from Yorgos Kentros, Panos Koronis, Vangelis Mourikis, Makis Papadimitriou, Yorgos Pirpassopoulos and Sakis Rouvas. Finally, Andrzej Zulawski’s Cosmos rounds off the competition, with the veteran director releasing it as his first film in 15 years – a psychological thriller with comedic edges that looks to be one of the strongest offerings at the festival.
Locarno Film Festival 2015 International Competition:
Bella e perduta (Pietro Marcello, Italy)
Brother Dejan (Bakur Bakuradze, Russia/Serbia)
Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari, Greece)
Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawski, France/Portugal)
Entertainment (Rick Alverson, USA)
Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan)
Heimatland (Lisa Blatter, Gregor Frei, Jan Gassmann, Benny Jaberg, Carmen Jaquier, Michael Krummenacher, Jonas Meier, Tobias Nölle, Lionel Rupp, Mike Scheiwiller, Switzerland/Germany)
James White (Josh Mond, USA)
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
Paradise (Sina Ataeian Dena, Iran/Germany)
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France)
O futebol (Sergio Oksman, Spain)
Schneider vs. Bax (Alex van Warmerdam, Netherlands/Belgium)
Suite armoricaine (Pascale Breton, France)
Dark in the White Light (Vimukthi Jayasundra, Sri Lanka/France)
Te prometo anarquia (Julio Hernández Cordón, Mexico/Germany)
The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (Ben Rivers, UK)
Tikkun (Avishai Sivan, Israel)