The International Jury of this year’s Locarno Festival, presided over by Olivier Assayas and including Jean-Stéphane Bron, Miguel Gomes, Christos Konstantakopoulos, and Birgit Minichmayr, has awarded the Golden Leopard to Wang Bing’s Mrs. Fang—we’ve gathered reviews here. “I’ve been working on documentaries for over ten years but this is the first time I am receiving such a great prize,” says Wang. “I want to see it as a start of my future projects. A very good one! Locarno is the best platform to show art films, because here there is an audience, coming from all over the world, which is attentive to every single film that is screened.”
A Special Jury Prize goes to Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas for Good Manners. At CineVue, John Bleasdale calls it “a genre-hopping tale of class, race, sexuality and werewolves in modern day São Paulo.” For Joseph Owen at the Upcoming, what begins “as a quasi-political treatment of race, class and sexuality in São Paulo descends into a nightmarish horror show of wolfish desires and beastly offspring.” More from Giorgia Del Don at Cineuropa and, writing for the festival, Francisco Noronha. Gustavo Beck (Notebook) and John Hopewell (Variety) interview the directors.
F.J. Ossang wins best director for 9 Fingers. “Always punk, always noir, F.J. Ossang’s post-apocalypse has no survivors,” writes José Sarmiento-Hinojosa at desistfilm. “Everyone’s a victim of other people’s bullets, of their own bullets, of the condemnation of their past. 9 Doigts makes a perfect ‘black triptych of the apocalypse’ with Treasure of the Bitch Islands (1990) and Dharma Guns (2010), both masterpieces of industrial atmospheres, where nuclear waste is a representation of the tragic ambitions of men. . . . Ossang has perfected his formula to a formal perfection that is incredibly outstanding: Noir punk expressionist post-apocalypse crime cinema, or maybe just in Nicole Brenez words, The Grand Insurrectionary Style, a remarkable chapter of cinema’s history that is still on the writing.” More from Muriel Del Don (Cineuropa) and Joseph Owen (Upcoming).
Isabelle Huppert wins best actress for her performance in Serge Bozon’s Mrs. Hyde. We’ve got reviews here.
Elliott Crossett Hove wins best actor for his turn in Hlynur Pálmason’s Winter Brothers. And here are those reviews.
The Concorso cineasti del presente jury—Yousry Nasrallah (president), Matías Piñeiro, Katrin Pors, Johanna ter Steege, and Paola Turci—has presented its top award to Ilian Metev for ¾, a “loose, gently improvising Bulgarian drama of a three-member family—adolescent boy, teen sister and their father—each on the cusp of a new movement in their lives,” as Daniel Kasman has it in the Notebook. “The camera almost always is ahead of each family member, moving backwards as they walk forward into their uncertain future.” More from Stefan Dobroiu at Cineuropa.
Valerie Massadian wins a Special Jury prize for Milla. And the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Fund and Locarno Festival have presented the second Audentia Award for best female director to Massadian, reports Cineuropa. James Lattimer at the House Next Door: “In Massadian’s hands, the minor and the major are one and the same; there’s no difference between the end of Milla’s relationship and the waves hitting the harbor wall or the arrival of her son and the play of lights and colors across a bedroom. Rather than slotting into some sort of narrative arc or dramatic structure, each of these moments and the others like them are merely concerned with establishing an atmosphere of intimacy and empathy, which grows in intensity to an almost unbearable degree as the film moves toward its finale.”
Kim Dae-hwan has won the competition’s best emerging director prize for The First Lap. “Appearances can be deceptive,” writes Jessica Kiang for Variety, “and the intensely spontaneous naturalism of Korean director Kim Dae-hwan’s sophomore feature . . . belies the piercing precision of its insights, while its dispassionate, long-take shooting style does little to prepare audiences for the humor and heart of its utterly winning performances. The movie is tiny and sharply focused, yet its effect is of a spreading, enlarging warmth—perhaps the biggest little film in the Locarno lineup.” More from Pierce Conran at ScreenAnarchy and Locarno programmer Mark Peranson.
And there are two special mentions, the first going to Shevaun Mizrahi for Distant Constellation. At the Upcoming, Joseph Owen calls it “an artful, haunting documentary of ageing residents in an Istanbul retirement home. The mostly stationary images capture the inhabitants, whose gazes wander while the camera remains unflinching.”
The second goes to Pedro Cabeleira for Damned Summer. It’s “in that very American summer-before-school genre, though in this case the summer before looking for employment—and for the Euro-clubbing set,” writes Daniel Kasman. “Drama and situation and characters fall away in the oomph-oomph-oomph-tss-tss-tss and strobing lights of parties that lose all sense of time and purpose, where exhaustion and ecstasy are inextricable.” More at ScreenAnarchy from Martin Kudláč, who also interviews Cabeleira for Cineuropa, where you’ll find more thoughts on the film from Muriel Del Don.
The jury for the Signs of Life section (Maria Bonsanti, Jordan Cronk, and Chris Fujiwara) has presented its top award to Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’s Cocote. “While this film’s plot doesn’t draw on any preexisting material, it does feel broadly archetypical, telling the story of how Alberto (Vicente Santos), a gardener working at a wealthy estate in Santo Domingo, returns to his home village following the death of his father at the hands of a local bigwig,” writes James Lattimer at the House Next Door. “Cocote shifts restlessly and seamlessly back and forth between film stocks of differing degrees of grain, between color and black and white, between static shots and moving ones, between agitated handheld camerawork and gliding, wonderfully graceful 360-degree pans. The resultant sense of restlessness neatly dovetails with the boundless energy of the burial ritual, which speaks to a country’s irrepressible urge to give free rein to emotion, an urge to which Alberto too eventually submits, and with suitably violent results.” And Jeremy Elphick interviews Carlo de los Santos Arias for 4:3.
The Fundación Casa Wabi - Mantarraya Award goes to Dane Komljen for Fantasy Sentences (Phantasiesätze). Komljen’s first feature, All the Cities of the North, screened in last year’s Signs of Life program.
And the jury’s also given a special mention to Adirley Queirós’s Once There Was Brazilia. Locarno programmer (and Cinema Scope editor) Mark Peranson calls it “a kind of science-fiction documentary of its non-professional actors who live on the margins, in equal parts hardscrabble homemade Blade Runner and Cinema Novo. Crazy in a good way, Era uma Vez Brasília (Once There Was Brasília) expresses unrestrained anger at the current Brazilian political situation.”
The First Feature Jury (Diego Batlle, Birgit Kohler, and Clarence Tsui) presents it top award to Ana Urushadze for Scary Mother. “What is impressive is how this story develops into a social commentary on what a woman is forced to withstand – namely, everything that is accepted as reality in today’s Georgia,” writes Vassilis Economou at Cineuropa, where he also interviews Urushadze. “Everything is set in the almost dystopian post-Soviet urban environment in Tbilisi, brilliantly photographed by Konstantine-Mindia Esadze.” More from Martin Kudláč at ScreenAnarchy.
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Award goes to Gürcan Keltek for Meteors. Daniel Kasman: “Like Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, this poetic documentary finds deeply painful but also awesome connection between cosmic phenomenon and a nation’s internal bloodshed: the occurrence in 2015 of a meteor shower over Turkey at a time of martial law and violent repression of the Kurds.” More from Martin Kudláč at ScreenAnarchy.
A Special Mention goes to Cyril Schäublin for Those Who Are Fine, “a cool and elegant portrait of a society held captive by its own well-being,” as Muriel Del Don puts it at Cineuropa. The film focuses on Alice, “a woman who works in a call centre on the outskirts of Zurich.”
For the national awards and short film winners, see the festival’s big list.
Todd Haynes and Jean-Marie Straub have received Pardo d’onore Manor awards for lifetime achievement. The Vision Award TicinoModa has been presented to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine, Mathieu Kassovitz has been given the Excellence Award Moët & Chandon, and the 2017 Leopard Club Award goes to Adrien Brody.
“Estonian film Portugal by Lauri Lagle is the big winner at the seventh edition of First Look, one of Locarno Festival’s Industry Days most well established initiatives, focusing on cinema from a different region each year,” and Vassilis Economou has the full list of winners at Cineuropa.