It’s the fifth annual Locorazo Festival, a reprise of Locarno’s lineup from five years ago, viewed alone at home during this year’s in-person festival.

Locorazo-week viewings linked in green, regular blue links are films I’d seen previously, unlinked are films of interest that I haven’t watched yet.

Concorso Competition

A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua)
Hotel by the River (Hong Sangsoo)
La Flor (Mariano Llinás)
A Family Tour (Ying Liang)
Genesis (Philippe Lesage)
Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham)
Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor)
Alice T. (Radu Muntean)
Diane (Kent Jones)
Yara (Abbas Fahdel)
M (Yolande Zauberman)

Filmmakers of the Present (first and second features)

Fausto (Andrea Bussmann)
Sophia Antipolis (Virgil Vernier)
A Family Submerged (María Alché)
Dead Horse Nebula (Tarik Aktas)
All Good (Eva Trobisch)

Piazza Grande (open air screenings, out of competition)

Coincoin and the Extra-Humans (Bruno Dumont)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)
Blaze (Ethan Hawke)
Birds of Passage (Ciro Guerra & Cristina Gallego)
Ruben Brandt, Collector (Milorad Krstić)
Searching (Aneesh Chaganty)
Manila in the Claws of Light (Lino Brocka)
Liberty (Leo McCarey)

Signs of Life (new forms and innovation)

The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin (Benjamin Crotty)
How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal (Eugène Green)
A Room with a Coconut View (Tulapop Saenjaroen)
Erased, Ascent of the Invisible (Ghassan Halwani)
Man in the Well (Hu Bo)
Gulyabani (Gürcan Keltek)
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack)
Veslemøy’s Song (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
Communion Los Angeles (Peter Bo Rappmund & Adam Levine)
Sedução da Carne (Júlio Bressane)

Fuori Concorso (non-competitive, features by established filmmakers)

Narcissister Organ Player (Narcissister)
Acid Forest (Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė)

Other Sections and One-Offs

An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo)
Words, Planets (Laida Lertxundi)
Seymour: an introduction (Ethan Hawke)
L’Humanite (Bruno Dumont)
and a full Leo McCarey retrospective

The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin (Benjamin Crotty)

A bit of anti-historical fun by the guy who made Fort Buchanan. Napoleonic soldier Chauvin is resurrected to collect some award, his acceptance speech turns into a fantasy that gets away from him, leading to some resurrected medieval dude pitchforking Chauvin’s girl, and explaining that the reason Chauvin can’t remember his parents is that he’s a fictional character invented by playwrights.

How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal (Eugène Green)

Carloto Cotta (Tabu, Diamantino) plays an office writer hired to create a local slogan for Coca-Cola, asks his would-be poet friend for advice. The slogan succeeds only in alarming the health ministry (led by Oliveira star Diogo Dória) into banning the drink. Also a bit of fun, but not as anarchic as Chauvin, calm and precise like La Sapienza, full of direct-to-camera address.

Erased/Palimpsest: Ascent of the Invisible (Ghassan Halwani)

The goal was to watch this feature, but I turned it off after 20 minuttes, so adding it to the shorts. Logging a movie I didn’t watch is not standard procedure, but I make the rules here. It’s investigating war photos and portraits of the disappeared, memorializing them properly, drawing and animating them to give them new life, exposing missing-person flyers covered up by years of advertising posters. Serious and worthy concept, but the methodical slowness of it was too much for me – a single still image was onscreen for six of the first ten minutes, and I bailed during a montage of news articles on mass graves.

A Room With a Coconut View (Tulapop Saenjaroen)

iMovie title effects and an AI voice speaking Thai giving a hotel tour, doesn’t seem promising. Then an English AI voice starts challenging her on the mechanics of what is seen, until we’re getting scientific explanations of how sea waves are formed. “Oh no, the images are bleeding.” A new English narrator appears as the male English narrator leaves the Thai AI and goes on a voyage… discussion of the nature of tourism… one AI smokes a joint. Great movie.

Gulyabani (Gürcan Keltek)

Placid visual and narrated poetry, hard to adjust to this after the more insane Coconut View. No people are seen, narrator is a girl, molested by her dad, thought to be a prophet by the villagers. “Two actions may look the same, but one may be evil and one may not.” A very serious story involving military coups and child prostitution, but I was tuned out due to the problems of the work week. The director’s feature Meteors had played Locarno the previous year.

Man in the Well (Hu Bo)

Not about a a man in a well… featureless hooded figures wander a post-apocalyptic wasteland looking for food. Very different from the Elephant movie, except in its pacing. They find a dead person and immediately dig in with a saw. I guess they chuck the body down a hole – is that the man in the well? Odd little movie.

Aging poet Ki Joo-bong (the second section of Grass) arranges to meet his grown sons – Kwon Hae-hyo (film director of In Front of Your Face) and Yu Jun-sang (film director of The Day He Arrives). Only one of them is playing a film director in this movie and I’ve forgotten which. The other is going through a divorce which he’s hiding from dad, who wants to tell his estranged family that he feels he doesn’t have much time left.

two brothers:

Meanwhile upstairs, Kim Min-hee and her friend Song Sun-mi (also her friend in The Woman Who Ran) have been through some stuff and are hiding from the world, resting and getting hungrier. Both groups will finally move to a restaurant down the road where the soju keeps flowing, and the dad’s dark prediction will prove correct soon after.

Michael Sicinski:

Hotel by the River marks a turn in the director’s work, away from his preoccupation with male-female relationships and toward questions of family and lineage. Instead of observing ridiculous men embarrassing themselves in thwarted romantic misadventures, here we are seeing the wreckage that bad men leave in their wake.

Observational slow-cinema doc, but that’s fine since half the subjects are Lithuanian water birds. Tourists chatter about the birds over the ever-present low chuckle of cormorant conversation. Mostly the people are being negative, whining how the birds compete with the locals for fish, then shit acid that kills the ancient pine trees – big deal. While there was handheld swaying in Fausto, this one feels like it was shot with hidden/security cameras, the crew returning a year later to collect and edit the footage. I could’ve done without the last 5 minutes of some dude interrupting nesting season with fireworks.

Cuties… if they want to kill all the trees and fishes, that’s their business:

It’s time once again for Locorazo, a home viewing series of films that played the Locarno Festival five years ago. This one played in the “Filmmakers of the Present” section for first and second features – in this case it’s her first solo feature, the previous two being collaborations with her husband Nicolas Pereda (Fauna), who only assists on this one (plus thanks in the credits to Joshua Bonnetta and Matias Pineiro).

Stories about lingering ghosts and missing shadows, a witch, psychic animals and astronomical events, told at night, often via narrator. “We live in a conscious universe, we just do not realize it.”

Dudes hanging out smoking, usually at night. The subjects of the stories are sometimes seen at an indifferent distance from the camera. A few unique visual moments: a text list of animals that can see better at night, a beach shot with an absurdly low horizon line.

The director in Mubi:

The concept of the search and searching was a central idea in the film and in the Faust myth. Much of the time we learn the characters are searching for a shadow, a man, et cetera. The theme of the search was something important for me to use, but also important to continue without a resolution. Faust, after all, wants nothing more than to unlock the keys to the universe and himself—something that, like Faust, we are far from doing. I’m never looking for a particular thing, but I’m always in the process of searching and exploring. I’m consumed by questions, which through the seeking of answer continually opens up new questions.

It’s the fourth annual* Locorazo Festival, formerly known as LNKarno, a reprise of Locarno’s lineup from five or six years ago, viewed alone at home during this year’s in-person festival.

LNKarno-week viewings linked in green, regular blue links are films I’d seen previously, unlinked are films of interest that I haven’t watched yet.

Main Competition:

The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro)
Gemini (Aaron Katz)
Good Luck (Ben Russell)
Madame Hyde (Serge Bozon)
The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues)
Good Manners (Juliana Rojas & Marco Dutra)
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson)
La Telenovela Errante (Raúl Ruiz & Valéria Sarmiento)
Bangkok Nites (Katsuya Tomita)
Correspondências (Rita Azevedo Gomes)
By the Time It Gets Dark (Anocha Suwichakornpong)
Scarred Hearts (Radu Jude)
Mister Universo (Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel)
9 Doigts (F.J. Ossang)
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch)
A Skin So Soft (Denis Côté)
Winter Brothers (Hlynur Pálmason)

Filmmakers of the Present (first and second features)

Withered Green (Mohammed Hammad)
Those Who Are Fine (Cyril Schäublin)
Person to Person (Dustin Guy Defa)
The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani)
3/4 (Ilian Metev)
Distant Constellation (Shevaun Mizrahi)
Destruction Babies (Tetsuya Mariko)
El Futuro Perfecto (Nele Wohlatz)
This Time Tomorrow (Lina Rodríguez)
Dark Skull (Kiro Russo)
Le Fort des Fous (Narimane Mari)
Milla (Valerie Massadian)

Critics’ Week (documentary section organized by a swiss film journalist group)

Communion (Anna Zamecka)
Monk of the Sea (Rafal Skalski)
The Family (Rok Biček)
Las Cinéphilas (Maria Alvarez)

Piazza Grande (open air screenings, out of competition)

Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Atomic Blonde (David Leitch)
Good Time (Ben & Joshua Safdie)
I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur)
Let the Corpses Tan (Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)
Sicilia! (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter)
Into the Forest (Gilles Marchand)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
Moka (Frédéric Mermoud)
The Tunnel (Kim Seong-hun)
The Girl With All The Gifts (Colm McCarthy)
Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Maria Schrader)
Chien (Samuel Benchetrit)
Tomorrow and Thereafter (Noémie Lvovsky)

Signs of Life (new forms and innovation)

Beduino (Júlio Bressane)
All the Cities of the North (Dane Komljen)
Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
Cocote (Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias)
Ouroboros (Basma Alsharif)
Ascent (Fiona Tan)
Pow Wow (Robinson Devor)
The Sun, The Sun Blinded Me (Anka & Wilhelm Sasnal)
In Praise of Nothing (Boris Mitic)
Panoptic (Rana Eid)
Phantasiesätze (Dane Komljen)
Surbiles (Giovanni Columbu)
The Dead Nation (Radu Jude)

Fuori Concorso (non-competitive, features by established filmmakers)

The Reagan Show (Pacho Velez & Sierra Pettengill)
A Young Girl In Her Nineties (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi & Yann Coridian)
Where Is Rocky II? (Pierre Bismuth)
July Tales (Guillaume Brac)
Rise & Fall of a Small Film Company (Jean-Luc Godard)
Prototype (Blake Williams)


Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski)
Plus Ultra (Helena Girón & Samuel M. Delgado)
Cilaos (Camilo Restrepo)
Among the Black Waves (Anna Budanova)
Indefinite Pitch (James N. Kienitz Wilkins)
The Hedonists (Jia Zhang-ke)
The Hunchback (Ben Rivers & Gabriel Abrantes)
Wasteland no. 1: Ardent, Verdant (Jodie Mack)
A Brief History of Princess X (Gabriel Abrantes)
A Train Arrives at the Station (Thom Andersen)
Edge of Alchemy (Stacey Steers)
Arrière-saison (Jean-Claude Rousseau)
Per una rosa (Marco Bellocchio)
Si loin, si proche (Jean-Claude Rousseau)
Rhapsody (Constance Meyer)

Scaffold (2017 Kazik Radwanski)

Good shallow-focus construction scenes. We see full people at a distance, but our two primary scaffold-workers and the homeowner are only seen around their waists, no faces. A cellphone and a flowerpot are dropped.

Cilaos (2016 Camilo Restrepo)

Per her mother’s dying wish, a woman goes to Cilaos to find her deadbeat dad and make him pay. When she arrives, he’s apparently dead, so she becomes him. And this is a musical, songs written by the performers, shot in simple long-take setups with sharp lighting.

La Bouche (2017 Camilo Restrepo)

A sequel? The dad is again known as The Mouth but this time he’s being told his daughter is dead and that he should get up and take revenge. People sing and drum and dance at him, La Bouche never speaks but finally he drums upon the red devil. Also a side conversation between a doomed tree and a chainsaw.

Plus Ultra (2017 Samuel Delgado & Helena Girón)

Ambient decayed mummy shot on decayed film, made me flashback to Begotten but not in a bad way. Then guys carrying something through the jungle. When they sleep a handful of fruit-munching robed women appear. Then I guess something mysterious happens… whatever the movie’s intention, it’s not to give us an adventure story.

Indefinite Pitch (2016 James N. Kienitz Wilkins)

The director/narrator pitches a film about Berlin (New Hampshire) on the soundtrack, the image is stills of black and white patterns, looks like icy water from a distance, or a soapy window (turns out it’s the polluted river of his hometown). The pace of the stills speeds up, as does the voice of the narrator, getting higher pitched (ah I get it, “pitch”) as he admits his initial pitch was based on a Jean Arthur movie set in Berlin, and he admits he’s never seen this movie or been to the town. “Pitch” the substance also comes up, and pitch as an angle. The narration ties different histories together, roaming New England, discussing fires and drugs and the nature of cinema. This is all surprisingly good except for one scene in the middle when the soundtrack becomes a blaring siren for a while – no thanks for that.

Wilkins was on my radar due to (what else?) Cinema Scope, where Dan Sullivan said:

Seemingly resistant to the idea of carving out a single position for himself and maintaining it for very long, the prolific Wilkins has launched one of the more strikingly frenetic investigations into the life of the mind and the lives of artists, race, money, and technology in recent cinema, playfully and thoughtfully posing tough questions about the features of the contemporary world we tend to take for granted.

The Hunchback (2016 Gabriel Abrantes & Ben Rivers)

“Welcome to Historical Works, where you are history.” Narrator advertises supplements that help you experience “obsolete human feelings,” and Timmy’s holophone tells him his character is a medieval hunchback. Arthouse Brainscan murder-mystery, as the present-day participants are interviewed to discover how Hunchback Timmy died (“a head just doesn’t come off that easy, and that’s when I realized something was wrong”), tracing how the body got passed around by everyone in town. What is the deal with the standing goat there at the end? I’m worried about the goat. Lead actor Carloto Cotta is a Miguel Gomes regular, therefore he appeared in a different irreverent Arabian Nights the year before.

Among the Black Waves (2016 Anna Budanova)

A fisherman sees hot nude selkies cavorting on the shore and steals one’s skin to keep her imprisoned in human form. At first she tries to drown herself but he retrieves her with his net, and she stays with him. Eventually their daughter finds the skin and mom escapes. Wordless animation.

The Hedonists (2016 Jia Zhang-Ke)

Another movie about miners – the shorts programs tend to bring everything together – the boss even says “Good Luck” when they all get fired. Big camera moves, abrupt scene changes, loud period music. Three laid-off guys go in search of work, as a bodyguards and actors. I think it’s a comedy? Alternate title: Jia Got a Drone

A Brief History of Princess X (2016, Gabriel Abrantes)

Not sure how I felt about The Hunchback, I rewatched one of my favorite shorts, which tells the story of one of my favorite artworks, and it’s still perfect.

Iman’s daughter little sister is getting married and it’s up to the eldest to find an uncle willing to attend the wedding, while the bride-to-be acts moody and annoyed. Iman is also dealing with early menopause symptoms, and has a pet turtle who only exists to fulfill an on-its-back helplessness visual metaphor. Plodding 66-minute movie containing powerfully condensed disappointment.

Ensemble movie of intersecting characters around NYC, packs plenty into under 90 minutes. I might’ve mixed up a couple of actors, but… Buddy Duress gets beaten up for attempting to scam record collector Bene Coopersmith… whose roommate George Sample III is in trouble for instructing his computer guy Benny Safdie to publish revenge porn of his recently-ex-girlfriend Marsha Stephanie Blake. Clockmaker Philip Baker Hall unwittingly holds material evidence that widow Michaela Watkins murdered her husband, and cub reporter Abbi Jacobson embarrassedly tries to get the dirt on that case, egged on by her slimy metalhead boss Michael Cera. Short-haired teen Tavi Gevinson hangs out with best friend Olivia Luccardi (who has a boyfriend) speaking pretentiously and acting like she definitely doesn’t want a boyfriend. Movie ends with a dance party, as all movies should.

Also: Isiah Whitlock Jr.:

Hell yeah, Unwound: