Review by Sean Boelman
One of the world’s longest-running festivals, the Locarno Film Festival is back in 2021 with a hybrid edition featuring films from around the world. From exciting premieres of the newest films from established filmmakers to some intriguing debuts from new voices, the lineup this year features plenty of movies that festival-goers won’t want to miss.
We at disappointment media are excited to be providing remote coverage for the 2021 Locarno Film Festival. Below you can find our thoughts on some of the films we have been able to check out that are playing as a part of the lineup. Although the festival is coming to a close, the press and industry online library continues until August 31, so we will add more capsule reviews to this article as we check out more films!
There have been plenty of films to pose the question of what the oppressed would do if they became the oppressor, but filmmaker Hleb Papou’s unexpectedly tender approach for The Legionnaire is welcome and refreshing. On paper, this story of an African-Italian police officer who is torn between his duty and his obligation to family sounds like it is going to be a race-against-the-clock thriller when in reality, it is something much more nuanced, a restrained and intimate character study. Germano Gentile’s leading performance is absolutely brilliant, nailing every bit of emotion in the story.
Festivals are designed to discover all sorts of films, including work that would likely never have been seen if not for the platform and prestige that the festival provides. For better or worse, Ghassan Salhab’s The River is one of those films, with a slow and frequently meandering script but solid production values. There is definitely something interesting to be found in this story of two people wandering the landscape contemplating an impending war, but it will test the viewer’s patience as the interactions start to blend together. It’s worth watching for some gorgeous scenery and strong chemistry between Ali Suliman and Yumna Marwan, but it won’t be for everyone.
Phil Tippet is an absolute legend in the film community for having worked on the visual effects teams on such classics as RoboCop, Jurassic Park, and The Empire Strikes Back, so his feature-length stop-motion animation project Mad God was obviously high on the list of most-anticipated films of the Locarno lineup. While it’s certainly a bit on the heavy-handed side when it comes to its message, the love and craft that went into this project absolutely leap off the screen. The world which Tippet has created for his film is so immersive, and will have viewers transfixed for the entirety of the eighty-plus minute runtime.
The 2021 Locarno Film Festival runs August 4-14.
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