Signs of Life will become competitive and First Look will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Baltic cinema

A scene of the film "Ascent" by Fiona Tan, 2016 Signs of Life section


The Locarno Festival is confirming its pioneering spirit looking towards the future: with Signs of Life, section aiming to explore frontier territories within the seventh art, which will become competitive from this year, and with the Industry First Look initiative, now reaching its seventh edition, dedicated to films in their post-production stage, which this year will concentrate on the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

Signs of Life, born in 2014 as a out-of-competition section, and aiming to explore frontier territories within the seventh art throughout novel narrative formats and innovation in filmic language, is now becoming competitive due to the success it has met with over the past few years. The award, amounting to 5,000 CHF, has been made possible thanks to the support from the in Zurich, foundation whose mission is to support innovative cultural projects at an international level.

Among the films presented during past editions, we may recall A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness by Ben Russell and Ben Rivers (2013), also awarded at the Torino Film Festival; La academia de las musas by José Luis Guerin (2015), both present and awarded at several festivals such as the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival and the Seville European Film Festival; L’infinita fabbrica del Duomo by Martina Parenti and Massimo D’Anolfi (2015) and Ascent by Fiona Tan (2016).

The First Look initiative, now reaching its seventh edition, dedicated to films at a post-production stage, and acting as a launching trampoline for films of the future, figures among the numerous initiatives promoted during the Industry Days at the Locarno Festival. This year, First Look will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Baltic cinema, with a focus on Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian films. A constantly burgeoning film industry, recognized at an international level also thanks to the recent: Tangerines by Zaza Urushadze – nominated at the 2015 Oscars, Es esmu seit (Mellow Mud) by Renars Vimba and I’m Not From Here by directors Maite Alberdi and Giedrė Žickytė.

Thanks to the support from the Estonian Film Institute, the Latvia Film Centre and the Lithuanian Film Centre, First Look 2017 will select between 5 to 7 films at a post-production stage. The producers of the selected projects will take part in the Locarno Festival and will have the opportunity of presenting their works to industry professionals. During the Industry Days, the films will be screened for sales agents, buyers, programmers and representatives of funds supporting post-production.

Nadia Dresti Deputy Artistic Director and Head of International of the Locarno Festival: “The Locarno Industry Days are the perfect place to give the right amount of visibility to a specific activity. First Look is an excellent opportunity for the countries in focus to highlight their cinema. Thanks to the tailor made program designed by Project Manager Markus Duffner, we are sure that the selected Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian producers will profit from the Locarno experience. Nobody can be sure, especially in these days, to sell a film, but we can assure that the films will be seen by buyers, festival programmers and other professionals in Locarno, as well as by a high profile jury.”

This year’s Jury is composed by Charles Tesson, Festival Cannes Semaine de la Critique’s Artistic Director, Janet Pierson, Head of the SXSW Film Festival and Sylvain Auzou, Giornate degli Autori – Venice Days' Vice Director, and will assign the First Look award sponsored by CineLab Romania that consists in 65.000,00 euro in post-production services, the Le Film Français award worth 5.500,00 euro in advertising services, and the Boogieman Media award for the production of a Key Art in the value of 5.000,00 euro. Further information on First Look

The 70th edition of the Locarno Festival will begin with a series of initiatives branded #Locarno70, already kicking off from the month of February, and will reach its conclusion during the event held from 2 to 12 August 2017.

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