Locarno 2018: Documentary Overview

The 71st Locarno Film Festival

August 1-11

Nonfiction makes up about a third of this critically acclaimed Swiss event’s approximately 100 new feature offerings.


As in the past, docs have poor representation in the fest’s competitions, with only one project among the 15 in the Concorso internazionale, Yolande Zauberman’s M, a portrait of a former ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who suffered sexual abuse for years within the community; and five among the 16 in the Concorso Cineasti del presente: hybrids from Joshua Magor (SIYABONGA, about a South African man determined to be part of a film production) and Andrea Bussmann (FAUST, an allegorical portrait of a Mexican coastal town); Nicole Vögele’s CLOSING TIME, which focuses on a small restaurant in Taipei; Sara Fattahi’s CHAOS, about three Syrian women coping in their own way with trauma; and Matthieu Bareyre’s YOUNG AND ALIVE, an exploration of contemporary Paris from the perspective of its young adult generation.


In contrast, nearly every entry in the Fuori concorso (out of competition) strand is nonfiction, which includes: Andrey M Paounov’s WALKING ON WATER, a chronicle of Christo’s The Floating Piers project; Ana Schulz and Cristóbal Fernández’s THE SPY WITHIN, about the unusual friendship between the filmmaker’s father and the Spanish agent who secretly spied on him; Nicolas Philibert’s EACH AND EVERY MOMENT, following the intensive process of training during nursing school; and Stéphane Goël’s ISLANDER, about a Swiss outsider who settled on a Chilean island in 1877.


More than half of the experimental Signs of Life section includes nonfiction projects, such as Adam R Levine and Peter Bo Rappmund’s COMMUNION LOS ANGELES, which uses the 110 freeway as a lens through which to view California; and Jodie Mack’s THE GRAND BIZARRE, an exploration of recurring graphics, technology, and culture; while the Panorama Suisse also includes a good showing of docs, such as Fernand Melgar’s AT THE PHILOSOPHERS’ SCHOOL, which follows intellectually disabled children in school; Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s LADIES, a portrait of several 60-year-old women; and Dieter Fahrer’s THE FOURTH ESTATE, which explores the challenges to journalism through the experiences of several Swiss publications.


Finally, the Semaine de la critique features only documentaries, including Reza Farahmand’s WOMEN WITH GUNPOWDER EARRINGS, about an Iraqi female journalist who covers stories about women; Dorottya Zurbó’s EASY LESSONS, which follows the adaptation to life in Hungary by a young Somalian woman; and Barbara Miller’s #FEMALE PLEASURE, a profile of women working towards female sexual liberation on their own terms.

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

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