Locarno 2016: Documentary Overview

Film-Festival-Locarno-2016Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 3 sees the opening of the 69th annual Locarno Film Festival, which this year will offer nearly 100 new and recent features over the course of its run, which ends on Sunday, August 13. About a third of these are nonfiction or hybrid projects, with some highlights noted below:

challengeIn contrast to last year’s Concorso internazionale, which saw several doc or hybrid projects represented, this year appears to offer just one: Rita Azevedo Gomes CORRESPONDENCES, about the epistolary relationship between two poets. Nonfiction fares better in the Concorso Cineasti del presente, which includes Yuri Ancarani’s THE CHALLENGE (pictured), a look at falconry in Arab culture; Douglas Gordon’s consideration of the early years of Jonas Mekas, I HAD NOWHERE TO GO; and Michele Pennetta’s FISHING BODIES, which looks at the intersection of an illegal fishing boat and a Syrian refugee.

young girlScreening out-of-competition in the Fuori concorso are such docs as: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Yann Coridian’s A YOUNG GIRL IN HER NINETIES (pictured), in which an Alzheimer’s sufferer falls for her dance instructor; Kaouther Ben Hania’s ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW, about a Tunisian girl who reckons with culture shock in Canada; and Laura Viezzoli’s THE NATURE OF THINGS, about the relationship between the filmmaker and his subject with ALS. The Histoire(s) du cinema strand offers Claudia Priscilla and Pedro Marques’ THE DESTRUCTION OF BERNARDET, a hybrid project focused on an aging, ailing Brazilian film critic; and Dominik Graf and Johannes Sievert’s DOOMED LOVE: A JOURNEY THOUGH GERMAN GENRE FILM, a consideration of the difficult history of genre films in Germany.

sea tomorrowSeveral titles appear in the Semaine de la critique, including: Alex Pitstra’s BEZNESS AS USUAL, the Dutch filmmaker’s exploration of a relationship with his estranged Tunisian gigolo father; Heidi Specogna’s CAHIER AFRICAIN, which finds Central African victims of conflict having to once again face war; Pavel Cuzuioc’s SECONDO ME, a portrait of opera coatcheck attendants; Katerina Suvorova’s SEA TOMORROW (pictured), about the remains of what was once the Aral Sea and those who once depended on it; and Laura Herrero Garvín’s THE SWIRL, on a trans farmer in an oft-flooded Chiapas village.

ratThe fest’s experimental sidebar, Signs of Life, includes Robinson Devor’s POW WOW, a meditation on the American desert; Theo Anthony’s RAT FILM (pictured), which offers an unconventional history of Baltimore via rats; and Fiona Tan’s ASCENT, an experimental exploration of Mt Fuji; while Swiss films take the spotlight in Panorama Suisse, such as Pierre-François Sauter’s CALABRIA, which follows two undertakers as they return a deceased man’s body back to his titular Italian homeland.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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