Discoveries at the Locarno Film Festival 2022

Texts by Davide Abbatescianni, Dominic Schmid, Emilien Gür, Giuseppe Di Salvatore, Jean Perret, Jodie McNeilly, Maria Di Salvatore, PM Cicchetti 

«Discovery» is Filmexplorer’s keyword for this edition of the Locarno Film Festival, for the great majority of the films that have interested us are first features.

Would the talent scouting be the new identity of this festival? Difficult to say.

Nonetheless, here we propose a broad platform of critical discussions, with few reviews and many short reflections which are meant as starting points for an exchange about films at the beginning of their career.


by Ann Oren

[…] La queue de cheval n’est qu’une queue de cheval, ni plus ni moins et c’est déjà beaucoup. Parce qu’il n’est ni symbole ni fétiche, l’appendice se prête à tous les jeux.

[…] Le jeu de séduction terminé, le récit continue en roue libre, avec queue mais sans tête, exploration d’un territoire inconnu où les catégories qui délimitent d’habitude l’expérience humaine s’estompent.

Read the entire REVIEW by Emilien Gür

by Franciska Eliassen

[…] Der entscheidende Kniff von «Den siste våren» ist es wahrscheinlich, seine Erzählung als eine Geschichte von Schwesternschaft zu erzählen, die schwesterliche Verbindung als eine empathische Abkürzung einsetzend…

[…] Das Einzige, was übrig bleibt, ist der kreative Schrei ins Nichts hinaus: Veras Tagebuch, archaisch anmutende Performances in der Natur mit der Schwester, der Film «Den siste våren» selbst.

Read the entire REVIEW by Dominic Schmid

by Ery Claver

[…] Claver sharply criticises a political and social life – intelligentsia included – that is reduced to elementary relations of power, but his gaze is also able to throw a pathetic connotation on to it.

[…] Ellipses and allusions are stressed by the use of a very poetic text layer (voice over) that counterbalances well the ambitious and panoramic intentions of the film through acute intuitions and in-depth descriptions.

[…] «Nossa senhora da loja do Chinês» is definitely a film to experience together, independently or alongside its understanding.

Read the entire REVIEW by Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski

[…] Recollected trauma purged, embodied and witnessed in the rehearsal room for the creation of uncompromising images for two different audiences: a theatre audience immediate to their own pain and a film audience mostly far from this tragedy.

[…] The film adroitly captures this wide-spread tension between differing positions on the war at a tiny scale with an intimately tied group of people surviving (or not) the internal and external conflict between patriotism, identity and ideology.

Read the entire REVIEW by Jodie McNeilly

by Bianca Lucas

What to do when the world does not make sense anymore? Current global developments are certainly no help in providing hope but the loss can be more immediate: the death of meaning through the death of a loved one. Bianca Lucas’ beautifully melancholic Love Dog examines the loss and eventual rediscovery of meaning not only through its protagonist John, whose girlfriend has just died under circumstances the film does not disclose, but also through its cinematic form: the editing and framing that mirror the protagonist’s aimlessness while at the same time, barely noticeable on the fringes, allowing for a certain potential for hope. Said hope may come in different forms, for example random encounters with strangers who provide comfort through their kinship in suffering, as well as through the revelation that the most direct way to find one’s ability to care about anything again comes through the literal act of caring for something that has already been given up as lost. In this case, an abandoned three-legged dog. Dominic Schmid 

Love Dog is a film that plays like an Agnes Obel record: intimate and yet oddly removed, like a silent dance or a ritual performed in a language you do not speak. This mixture of intimacy and distance takes on different facets, reverberating across the production, the narrative and the experience of those who watch. From each new angle, albeit through different personas, the same combination of closeness and distance resurfaces: ... PM Cicchetti

Read the entire REVIEW by PM Cicchetti

by Andrew Legge

[…] The reels’ “wear and tear” effect doesn’t act as a simple aesthetic element in the background, but becomes a solid narrative component, which elicits certain emotions and atmospheres.

[…] «LOLA» may be a palatable dish for the lovers of science-fiction and alternate history but it has the potential to engage and entertain a wider, more mainstream festival audience.

Read the entire REVIEW by Davide Abbatescianni

Hear the Café critique (PODCAST) about the film

by Sylvain George

[…] Le récit accueille avec une patience généreuse des moments d’un seul tenant, permettant de signifier la patience, la souffrance, l’humour, la fatigue que génèrent l’attente et l’invention de nouvelle stratégies pour passer outre les systèmes de surveillance et leurs patrouilles en action.

[…] C’est affligeant et néanmoins, Sylvain George commence et achève son film par une calligraphie dont les mouvements vibrionnants témoignent d’une énergie à ne pas désespérer du monde.

Read the entire REVIEW by Jean Perret

by Abbas Fahdel

[…] Dietro lo sguardo sensibile di Nour si avverte quello discreto del regista Fahdel, che inonda il film di sequenze di grandissima poesia e di notevole qualità estetica, nelle quali anche il vento, i gatti che sonnecchiano, le gocce di pioggia sul vetro della finestra di casa, diventano protagonisti di un cinema che denuncia i problemi del Paese, mentre contempla – per contrasto – la silenziosa meraviglia del creato.

Read the entire REVIEW by Maria Di Salvatore


by Ana Vaz

If it hasn’t become clear to everyone by then, the end credits that list every being appearing in the film by their Latin species name – pteronura brasiliensis, speothos venaticus, homo sapiens, etc. – make it obvious: this is not a film about humans. While not going quite as far in its rejection of the anthropocentric gaze as Leviathan by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, the effect is quite a similar one: disorientation in the absence of any meaningful (at least to humans) or moral landmarks. The story may be a familiar one though: invaders are pushing the native habitants to the fringes of their original habitat, to the point where - in the absence of available space - the natives have no choice but to invade their original territory again, giving the now oblivious invaders an excuse to exterminate them. If this sounds like a western that’s because it is, namely a classic one, shot in uncanny day for night, that makes the enemy indiscernible from the apocalyptic twilight that is our reality now.
Dominic Schmid

by Sorayos Prapapan

Roborative à souhait et sérieusement politique, cette comédie est celle d’une révolution qu’initient les élèves d’une école à Bangkok. Les châtiments corporels sont à l’image d’une discipline propre à un système de valeurs patriarcal et corrompu. Un élève modèle se compromet dans des fraudes dont il tire de gros avantages pécuniaires pendant que des filles dénoncent les agissements de la direction de l’établissement et organisent la résistance. Elles entrainent l’ensemble des jeunes à être des Bad Students au sein d’un récit au rythme jubilatoire. Quelques images d’archives de manifestations violentes opposant forces de l’ordre et manifestants ancrent le film dans la réalité d’une Thaïlande au régime politique réactionnaire.
Jean Perret

Read the INTERVIEW with Sorayos Prapapan by Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Lidia Duda

Premiato per il linguaggio innovativo (Zucchi Award), Pisklaki colpisce per l'insolito sguardo sulla vita interiore dei bambini ipovedenti: l'inserimento a scuola, la solitudine, il faticoso processo di apprendimento, il gioco. Duda non si concentra solo sulla loro diversità, ma anche su ciò che li accomuna agli altri bambini e su come i tre protagonisti affrontino le difficoltà, aiutandosi. Appare allora un mondo rarefatto, quasi epico (anche grazie al bianco e nero della camera), lontano dal chiasso dell'infanzia moderna. Forse un'esistenza con meno distrazioni – visive – e segnata da veri ostacoli può essere opportunità e non tragedia, e generare conoscenza di sé, empatia, crescita.
Maria Di Salvatore

Awarded for its innovative language (Zucchi Award), Pisklaki impresses with its unusual insight into the inner lives of visually impaired children: their integration at school, their loneliness, the arduous learning process, and their playing. Duda focuses not only on their diversity but also on what they have in common with other children, and how the three protagonists cope with difficulties by helping each other. A rarefied, almost epic world then appears (also thanks to the black and white of the camera), far from the hubbub of modern childhood. Perhaps an existence with fewer – visual – distractions and marked by real obstacles can be opportunity and not tragedy, and generate self-knowledge, empathy, growth.

by Helena Wittmann

Clueless or sensual? Superficial or inspiring? Pretentious or minimalist? As the film provoked opposite reactions, also among Filmexplorer’s collaborators, we recorded a critical discussion on the spur of the moment.

Hear the Café Critique (PODCAST) about the film, by Yun-Hua Chen, Leonardo Goi, Sona Karapoghosyan, Dominic Schmid, Giuseppe Di Salvatore – edited by Jeannette Wolf.

by Jeff Rutherford

A feeling of déjà vu, or déjà lu, remains with us (Raymond Carver) in watching this melancholic meeting of solitudes. A father and a son, then two fathers and a son in an improbable straight-and-circular walking that describes the tentative rapprochement of two wonderful losers. Combining Kammerspiel dialogues and broad landscapes, together with a shrewd choreography of camera framings, Jeff Rutherford manages to create a rare moment of filmic authenticity.
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Juraj Lerotić

Un jeune homme tente de se suicider à Zagreb. Sa mère et son frère cherchent à lui porter secours, mais ont tôt fait de se heurter à l’indifférence du personnel soignant, à la cruauté inhumaine du système de santé et sa bureaucratie. Safe Place est un film autobiographique, où le réalisateur est aussi acteur et joue son propre rôle, conduit avec une économie de moyens qui frappe par sa justesse. Sa charge contre l’univers médical croate en est d’autant plus forte qu’elle est articulée avec sobriété, non seulement en termes de jeu d’acteurs mais aussi de mise en scène. Un drame se produit sous nos yeux. La caméra de Juraj Lerotić l’enregistre et fait de nous ses témoins. Lorsque nous quittons la salle, nous savons.
Emilien Gür

by Carlos Conceição

Carlos Conceição joue sur le même terrain que beaucoup de ses contemporains (exploration de la violence, récupération du cinéma de genre, retournement narratif spectaculaire). À la différence près que sa démarche esquive l’opportunisme caractéristique du travail de nombre de ses pairs engagés dans ces mêmes territoires (et ils étaient nombreux l’an passé à Locarno…), qui visent l’effet plutôt que l’affect ou l’intellect (en cela plus auteurs de communication visuelle que de cinéma). Le cinéaste portugais fait vaciller la distinction entre l’ici et l’ailleurs, le présent et le passé pour s’engouffrer au cœur du colonialisme dont il illumine le refoulement et la survivance – autrement dit : la mort-vivance. Le film s’achève sur une image qui éclaire mieux que nulle autre le contemporain : des soldats portugais sortent de la brousse angolaise, des années 1970 et arrivent directement dans la périphérie de Lisbonne, aujourd’hui. La guerre continue, sous d’autres noms.
Emilien Gür

by Woo Ming Jin

Ghosts can take many forms: the dead, whose voiceless images remain like shards, at the margins of everyday life, those whose life was always just memory: figments of remote past, of the screen; figures of the myth. The invisible among us, those whose pain and loneliness we choose to unsee. In Woo Ming Jin’s Stone Turtle all these ghosts seem to gather together on the titular island, under the premise, as one character notes at one point, that they’d «rather be alive on an island of ghosts, than dead in the land of the living». The temporality of revenge – climactic, culminational, resolutive – blends here with the cyclical, open-ended time of old folk legends. Structurally, the gamble is ambitious but it works, against all odds, leading to a dark, fairy-tale version of Groundhog Day. Thematically perhaps Stone Turtle reaches a little too far: Woo’s attempt to align feminist and migrant struggles with mythic materials past and present (from Malaysian lore to Marvel comics) seems at times strained, though certainly in vogue (cue Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though an even better example might be Suwichakornpong’s Krabi, 2562). Stylistically however its rather unique strain of magical realism pays off, thanks mostly to Asmara Abigail’s intense yet oddly removed performance. Echoes of Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber run through the plot as bursts of (gendered) violence and moments of documentary-style observation mix with Ghibli-esque animation by Paul Williams. A film to watch twice because only the second viewing makes it clear that the ultimate turtle island is cinema itself: a strange, deceptively close land, populated by figures forever caught between life and death.
PM Cicchetti


by Valentina Maurel

Un couple vole en éclats. Évidence des coups, des cris, souffrances des deux sœurs d’être témoins de leurs parents qui se mutilent, s’automutilent. Ancré au Costa Rica, ce drame met en évidence deux personnages de lumière paradoxale et émouvante. Eva, 16 ans, veut habiter avec son père, qui est à la recherche d’un appartement à prix modeste, alors que sa mère aménage avec quelque luxe leur maison grâce à un héritage. Eva est en voie de devenir femme, son corps est rendu à de premières expériences sexuelles délétères, l’amour envers son père est d’une exigence ingénue. Quant au père, ses accès de violence n’ont d’égal que ses gestes de tendresse. En quête de repères, il se heurte aveuglément au quotidien d’une vie chaotique. Et la réalisatrice ne cède jamais à la simplification de ses personnages. Le père écrit des poèmes, les lit. Le silence alors rassérène les corps et les âmes.
Jean Perret

by Adnane Baraka

Between astronomic speculations and existential reflections Adnane Baraka’s film explores the Moroccan desert as a silent territory for transcendence. Misery and desire, despair and resilience conflate in an almost impossible search for cosmic stones. A both contemplative and material cinema that allows us to experience the sideral distance of godless stars and the human longing for them.
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Nikolaus Geyrhalter

Impressive, striking, spectacular – we will say this in looking at Geyrhalter’s images concerning the huge amount of waste in the world. The theme of waste is certainly not new, also in cinema, but here his “aesthetic of quantity” wants to highlight not only the burden of matter but more precisely the work needed to process this matter as an (energy) expensive burden. The absence of commentary initially frustrates us, at least insofar as we would like to know more about what we see. Nevertheless, wouldn’t the information have given us the impression to understand and control a phenomenon of which Geyrhalter prefers to stress the disproportion?
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Alexander Sokourov

Les figures des fascismes qui ont dévasté l’histoire du XXe siècle sont démultipliées dans des décors stylisés à partir des grands modèles architecturaux des systèmes fascistes et concentrationnaires. Que l’on imagine l’inimaginable, non pas un Hitler, un Staline, un Mussolini, mais des Hitler, Staline, Mussolini mis en scène en une animation à nulle autre pareille et dont Alexandre Sokourov tient à garder le secret. Ils conversent au chevet du Christ qui cherche à renaître au cœur des ténèbres. Quant à Churchill, il occupe une place étrange aux portes du paradis ! L’irruption terrifiante de la foule des humains donne au spectacle une dimension hallucinée. Cette méditation somnambulique en un univers abstrait et néanmoins identifiable instille une réflexion effarée sur le temps présent.
Jean Perret

by Valentin Merz

Avec sa fantaisie enfantine et le plaisir d’une mise en scène débridée, le film de Valentin Merz constitue une sorte de récit jubilatoire à la puissance libératoire. La célébration de la dimension collective et la multiplication des noyaux narratifs marquent une première partie du film qui se repose entièrement sur la force des images – et de la musique. Puis le cinéma cède la place au théâtre, sur la ligne d’une enquête policière décousue, parfois forcée, où la tentative de jouer la carte de l’humour ne réussit pas toujours.
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Susanna Helke

The film denounces the tragic consequences of the privatisation of elderly care in Finland through the example of a town in the north-east of the country. Very well documented, even on the attempts to modernise care, but with a clear vindication of the human dimension against the bureaucratisation of the profession Susanna Helke privileges the point of view of the nurses by fully assuming the one-sidedness of her approach. Ruthless Times is an unabashed j'accuse, reinforced by the original choruses that sing factual lyrics without embellishments. A refrain, for example: «A graceful death is too expensive»…
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Alessandro Comodin

È un film che racconta la banalità della provincia italiana e cattura le pieghe più umane dei suoi protagonisti. Ma è anche un film che attira subito le simpatie per il suo personaggio principale, per poi lasciarci nel bel mezzo di una mediocrità disarmante, interessante solo nel suo valore puramente documentario. Dunque un film double face, dove buon umore e depressione si mescolano in continuazione, e un film che pertanto saprà dividere il suo pubblico, a seconda di come lo si indossa.
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Michele Vannucci

In lotta contro una parte di sé, i personaggi tragici di Delta restano invischiati nelle acque torbide del loro passato. Più cercano di preservarlo (Osso) e più scivolano in una melma di dolore, e se osano rivisitarlo (Elia) restano braccati come i siluri mostruosi del Po. Al Delta, luogo liminale per eccellenza, diviso tra fiume e mare, tra terra e acqua, tra salvezza e perdizione, personaggi complessi si stagliano in un paesaggio desolato, che fa da risonanza alla loro incomunicabilità (traccia de L'avventura di Michelangelo Antonioni). La forte tensione di un dramma forse più personale che sociale è accentuata dalla scelta di luoghi italiani poco noti (come ne L'imbalsamatore di Matteo Garrone).
Maria Di Salvatore

by João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata

Quand la saudade devient fétiche. Est-ce que les réalisateurs João Pedro Rodrigues et João Rui Guerra da Mata nous restituent un film absent (Os verdes anos de Paulo Rocha, 1963) et sa mémoire ? Dans Onde fica esta rua ? il est moins question de mémoire vivante que d’une archéologie du présent qui s’avère être un festival de débris. L’absent s’efface au profit de l’anecdote. Un exercice postmoderne à la piste sonore très agréable ? Ou bien une sorte de « cinéma privé » ?
Giuseppe Di Salvatore

by Lionel Baier

D’un côté, le goût pour les détails psychologiques, un Witz et un tempo à la Woody Allen ; de l’autre, une question politique complexe (autour du programme européen Frontex), un questionnement éthique difficile, celui de la responsabilité et de la culpabilité de l’Occident face à la crise migratoire. Lionel Baier veut tout prendre, dans une comédie toute ronde et toute lisse. Je soulignerais l’importance de l’autocritique d’une société occidentale pressée d’arborer une belle figure humaniste sur le dos de la souffrance des migrants. Mais on devrait aussi se demander si l’encadrement d’une telle autocritique dans cette comédie légère à tout prix ne s’avère pas justement être la plus belle des belles figures humanistes sur le dos de la souffrance des migrants…
Giuseppe Di Salvatore