As I flew over to Milan to reach Locarno then by car over the Alps, I watched 'The Gospel According to André' on the plane -- the documentary about the grand fashion figure that is André Leon Talley. It was a perfect way to dive into the Locarno Festival since Talley's life has been all about courage and bold choices and this year's film festival is channeling that spirit exactly.
Also, as a woman I find solace at an event that kicks off with a press release announcing their commitment to sign the Programming Pledge for Parity and Inclusion in Cinema Festivals for parity and equality in the industry. Locarno will be the first festival after Cannes to commit to this pledge. So on August 5th at 9.45 a.m. Marco Solari, Locarno Festival President and Carla Speziali, Locarno Festival Vice President, will gather at the Spazio Forum to publicly and officially sign the initiative by SWAN, the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network, a sister movement to the French 5050x2020 campaign that took place on the steps of the Palais this May 2018 during the Cannes Film Festival.
In fact, they've already done right by me, when they asked a woman to moderate the talk with Meg Ryan here at Locarno, on August 4th at 10.30. Well, I won't lie, a hundred times right since yours truly will be the one moderating that chat and I can't wait to sit down with a phenomenal woman and favorite actress. She will be awarded the Leopard Club Award while in Locarno and on August 3rd the "Piazza Grande will belong to Meg Ryan," the organizers declared earlier.
During the opening talks on the Piazza Grande, preceding the screening of a double bill of films that ranged from classic, 'Liberty' by Leo McCarey to contemporary, 'Les Beaux Ésprits' by Vianney Lebasque, Locarno Festival President Marco Solari mentioned the word "courage" a lot, and added, "we must posses the courage to look to the future and the courage to look at our neighbors," which of course is a hot button in Europe, and world at large, at the moment. We all seem so preoccupied with the right-now, and have forgotten how to look into the eyes of the Other.
Thankfully, within my first 24 hours in Locarno, I found a film that reminded me of the beauty of those days -- before mobile phones and impossible distractions, days we actually talked to each other and looked into each other's eyes.
Dominga Sotomayor's 'Too Late to Die Young' ('Tarde Para Morir Joven') is a beautifully woven cinematic homage to the "nostalgia of growing up... the nostalgia of a time that isn't" as Sotomayor described it during the film's press conference.
Yet perhaps the fastest and most concisely well-put review of the film belongs to my colleague Meredith Taylor of Filmuforia who tweeted:
Sotomayor first appeared on my personal radar at this year's Qumra in Qatar, an event organized by the Doha Film Institute. In fact, the DFI are also among the supporters of 'Too Late to Die Young', as is the Hubert Bals Fund from the Netherlands.
Co-produced by Sotomayor, Omar Zúniga and Violeta Brava among others, the film proved for me an exceptional way to kick off a festival that promises quality along with quantity. And loads of artful, soulful works to fill my dreams.