Again in person for its fifth edition, Locarno in Los Angeles welcomes the city’s more adventurous cinema lovers to the festival from March 17th to 20th at 2220 Arts + Archives.
The selection includes highlights from the 2021 program of Switzerland’s flagship festival, which is characterized by its transboundary sensibility, distinct from Hollywood’s assembly line film production. Some of this year’s films will also be presented together with the SEEFest (South East European Film Festival).
Two tiles in the catalog that certainly fit unconventional cinematic expressions but have also received general releases in the US are Mamoru Hosoda’s animated triumph Belle (March 20, 8 p.m.), his digital-era version of Beauty and the Beast das Beast” and Abel Ferrara’s “Zeroes and Ones” (March 18, 8pm), a dark and mysterious political thriller starring Ethan Hawke.
Locarno, Los Angeles’ collection of international productions flips commercial narrative expectations on their head, often eschewing structured plots for more experimental concepts. In general, the festival’s selections are formally even bolder than the art house carnival that hits the United States week after week.
Of the dozens of titles on the programme, the five below represent just a sampling of the far-reaching, uncompromising visions Angelenos can experience this weekend.
First time [The Time for All but Sunset – Violet]
Outside a carriage in Germany, landscapes and everyday scenes flit by, bathed in the soft light of the late afternoon sun. Inside, framed by a static shot, two young men sit silently across from each other during a nearly hour-long drive while stealing glances at each other, almost as if waiting for the right moment to move. This isn’t “Before Sunrise” but a musically driven exercise in possibilities of what could happen but doesn’t. Director Nicolas Schmidt opens this 50-minute short with a montage of old Coca-Cola commercials that focuses on youthful romance. Once the focus is on the potential lovers, we are mesmerized by a cacophony of voices and the twilight colors that filter through the window. March 18, 6 p.m
The Holy Spirit
Investing in our shared obsession with the uncanny – be it contact with extraterrestrials, proving New World Order type conspiracy theories, or using a medium to speak to souls beyond the grave – is the latest effort from Spanish writer-director Chema García Ibarra did a brilliant study on the subject. A young girl, a twin, has disappeared, leaving behind a distraught mother. At the same time, following the death of the founder, José Manuel (a properly measured Nacho Fernández), the missing child’s uncle, has taken over the leadership of a ufology group with a small but dedicated membership. With a dryly comedic tone in the cast’s deadpan interactions, this unconventional gem ponders how we search for answers to our existential worries. March 19, 8 p.m
Serbian filmmaker Marko Grba Singh returns to the now deserted home of his formative years to pen this contemplative non-fiction essay about the things that no longer exist, and especially the moments when his grandfather, a man who wanted to capture everything, frozen in time. Communicating with the viewer via on-screen text over modern footage of the estate, Singh speaks of a recurring dream that points to the late 1990s when war forced him and his family to move to Romania. Interspersing the present with home videos that capture both playful moments with the clan’s dog and the horrors of imminent bombings, the director makes an ode to the intersection of personal and historical memory. March 20, 11 a.m
When a lonely man commits suicide in a small coastal town in Caucasus Georgia, local cafe owner Amnon (Gia Agumava) takes it upon himself to contact the deceased’s estranged granddaughter, Moe (Bebe Sesitashvili), to arrange a funeral. It takes their outside perspective to see through the residents’ unspoken feuds, not only over the collective disdain of their relatives, but also over a secret love affair. Elene Naveriani’s sad drama finds its emotional anchor in Agumava’s restrainedly powerful portrayal of a man mourning in the shadows. She uses the seemingly idyllic location with breezy days and the soothing sound of the waves for a humanistic statement on acceptance and identity, a still difficult topic within the traditionally religious Georgian society. March 20, 1 p.m
From the planet of humans
Giovanni Cioni’s intriguing look at a border crossing between Italy and France, specifically in the town of Ventimiglia, constructed as a peculiar fable of true migration stories, draws parallels between those trying to escape Mussolini’s fascist regime during World War II and today’s refugees from Africa and the Middle East on the same paths. Lyrical in its aesthetic, with dreamlike imagery mostly of water and vistas, and voiceover narration – sometimes by the filmmaker and sometimes by a chorus of talking frogs – it’s an utterly original work. The story, which finds its villain in the notorious surgeon Serge Voronoff, sees history as part truth and part enduring artistry in which we collectively believed, though reality often turns out to be even more unbelievable. March 19, 1 p.m
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-03-17/locarno-in-los-angeles-film-festival-international Locarno in Los Angeles: Around the World in a Dozen Films