Movies, Leopard prints and all that jazz at Locarno
Ankur Pathak captures the essence of the Locarno International Film Festival, live from Locarno!
Keeping its date with the movies, the incredibly gorgeous lakeside town of Locarno -- which lies in the south of Switzerland -- has once again come glamorously alive with the commencement of the 65th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival.
Artistic director Olivier Pere, along with cultural luminaries and local Ticino politicians, declared the festival open on August 1.
It was followed by the world premiere of the British thriller The Sweeney. Held in the presence of director Nick Love and actor Ray Winstone (Hugo, The Departed) the film was screened at the majestic Piazza Grande, which is Europe's largest open air movie theatre accommodating a massive 8,000 people.
Image: The Piazza Grande
Photographs: Ankur Pathak
'There was studio pressure who wanted me to make a heavily Americanised film that I didn't agree to'
Essentially a bad cop saga, The Sweeney suffers from a mediocre, quite over-used script and shallow lines for dialogue, redeemed only by its visual brilliance and meticulously orchestrated action sequences.
Adapted from the hit British show that went by the same name and played during the late 1970s, the film's slick production design and stylised direction makes it resemble a Guy Ritchie production.
''There was a lot of studio pressure who wanted me to make a heavily Americanised film that I didn't agree to. Because of the difference of opinions, I made a film in a lesser budget, but the one I way wanted to make with full creative liberties,'' said director Nick Love.
On shooting the action sequences, especially the one involving a thrilling car chase, Love said he always wanted to have one scene in any of his movies that was iconic, and if this particular one stands out, he feels he has achieved what he set out to.
Image: A scene from The Sweeney
'I immensely admire Gary Oldman and Tim Roth'
On playing notorious cop Regan who is actually more of a brash, old school police officer, legendary actor Ray Winstone said he could draw a lot of parallels between the character and his own personality.
"He is working class and doesn't like authority. That is quite like me," he said.
About the actors he himself admires and is influenced from, Winstone names British stalwarts Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. "I immensely admire them. They have acted in and directed some wonderful cinema and they not only make films that make them happy but pass comment on key social issues too. It is a brilliant utilization of the medium."
Image: Ray Winstone, the moderator and Nick Love
British actress Charlotte Rampling honoured
The other film that screened for the press on Day 1 was the Spanish film, Los Mejores Tema, and the the Russian docudrama Winter, Go Away which tracks a number of radical groups and their diverse, often misguided political ideologies and personal agendas with the main pretext of uprooting the ruling government of President Putin.
Made by film school students of Russia, the film is a quite an authentic exploration of the political crisis plaguing the country.
Later in the evening, legendary British actress Charlotte Rampling, who has worked under directors as diverse as Woody Allen (Stardust Memories) and Sidney Lumet (The Verdict), was awarded with the Excellence Award.
The audience cheered for the actress, as she entered the stage to accept the Leopard trophy.
Image: Charlotte Rampling
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Getty Images
Indian touch at Locarno
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries) is also to be felicitated by the Excellence Award and screenings of his past films (No, Bad Education, Sleeper) will be held over the next few days.
This year there are 13 films competing in the main International Competition while the festival is holding retrospective of auteur Otto Preminger while a special section is devoted to African cinema. In all, the much revered European festival will screen over 300 films from as many as 50 different countries.
Highly anticipated titles include Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike featuring Matthew McConaghuey, Bradley Rust Gray's Jack and Dianne and Cate Shortland's Lore amongst a wonderfully eclectic selection.
Although none of the Indian films made the cut at the Locarno festival, Burqa Boxers, a documentary about three young Indian women of Muslim upbringing who learn boxing in a Kolkata gym will see an exhibition which will have a selection of photographs from the shoot open to the public.
Image: Gael Garcia Bernal
Day I concludes
Other than this, an interesting anecdote to note is, before every film in the official selection, there comes a slide show of directors who have made significant contribution to world cinema.
Along with maestros like Stanely Kubrick and Michelangelo Antonioni, we also get to catch a glimpse of our very own Ashutosh Gowariker.
As Day 1 concluded, the enthusiastic crowd, people from all over the world donning caps, bags and other merchandise with Leopard prints -- a trademark of the festival -- proceeded to a number of lakeside bars and the the casino close by while many chose to sit back and enjoy a local band playing Jazz in a nearby cafe.
Image: A local band