71st Locarno Festival

01.08.2018 to 11.08.2018
Ecumenical Jury Locarno 2018

The Ecumenical Jury Locarno 2018, from left: Alina Birzache (president), Anna Piazza, Baldassare Scolari, and Dietmar Adler

The Ecumenical Jury at the 71st Locarno Festival awarded its Prize to "Sibel", directed by Guillaume Giovanetti und Çağla Zencirci, an international co-production of France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The film also won the Prize of the International Film Critics' Organisation (Fipresci), and the second Prize of the Youth Jury. The Golden Leopard awarded by the international festival jury, presided by Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke, was given to "A Land Imagined", directed by Yeo Siew Hua from Singapore. The film also received a Commendation by the Ecumenical Jury who gave another Commendation to "Diane", directed by Kent Jones (USA).

On August 1st, the 71st International Film Festival in Locarno was opened, now called "Locarno Festival". It was the last festival year under the artistic direction of Carlo Chatrian, who has been appointed to succeed Dieter Kosslick in Berlin.

Locarno is a "festival of discoveries". Especially the international competition screens first and second films by young directors. Next to it is the more popular program of the Piazza Grande with discoveries of other festivals, such as the new film by Spike Lee, "BlacKkKlansman", which was honoured in Cannes with a Commendation by the ecumenical jury.

The grand opening ceremony took place on the Piazza Grande. It included two films. First, "Liberty", a silent film from 1929 by Leo McCarey, accompanied by live music. McCarey is the director to whom the festival dedicated its retrospective. Second, the French film "Les Beaux Esprits" (Team Spirit) by Vianney Lebasque from the Piazza Grande program.

The Ecumenical Jury, which was reduced to four members this year, awards its prize to a film of international competition. It is endowed with CHF 20,000 intended for the distribution of the prizewinner in Switzerland.

Link: Festival-Website

Link: Festival report by jury member Dietmar Adler and Charles Martig



The film tells the story of a young woman who lives in a community in the Black Sea region of Turkey, which preserves an ancestral whistling language and rituals. Marginalized by society because of her muteness, Sibel spends most of the time in the forest, where she is seeking that freedom she is unable to find in the village. Her love encounter with a mysterious fugitive starts a process of emancipation through which she discovers herself as a woman. The film creates a powerful image of a character who, by challenging patriarchal structures and identarian framings, becomes an example of dignity for the other women in the community.

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Against the background of a wintery landscape, the film takes us through the last stages of Diane’s spiritual journey. From her exemplary self-sacrifice in the service of the others our attention is turned towards her inner life. Highlighting the tension between guilt and forgiveness, the film visualizes moments of transcendence shining through the routine of Diane’s daily life.

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The movie critically explores slavery in contemporary society, showcasing the plight of foreign workers in Singapore. Deftly intertwining reality, virtuality and dreams, the film focuses on an investigation of workers’ disappearance. This is the pretext for a reflection on the meaning of borders, national sovereignty and economic exploitation in a globalized world, as well as on the real possibility of solidarity between people from different places and cultures.

More about the festival

A hallmark of this year’s Locarno Festival, aside from the tropical weather, was the high proportion of films in the competition featuring female protagonists. The Festival’s charismatic artistic director, Carlo Chatrian, acknowledged in a private conversation with our Ecumenical Jury that this was more the result of serendipity than design, but it nonetheless reflected trends in international cinema. During the 12 days of this cinematic feast, gripping portraits of women appeared on the screen, from coming-of-age to end-of-life stories.