Stalking the Leopard

Black and yellow washing hangs out to dry during the Festival del Locarno.

Last night, as I made my way to the Piazza Grande, I thought of how smart the Locarno festival was to adopt a long-term color schema. The people of this town really get into the spirit, displaying the black and yellow in the most unlikely of places, including their hung washing. The Leopard can be seen in front, behind and above you on nearly every street.

I arrived for my next festival screening and found a seat amongst the 8,000 waiting to watch the brothers’ Safdie latest short work, The Black Balloon, I can’t think any other American filmmakers whose work maintains such a close connection to the European arthouse films that dominate festivals like Locarno.

I’d seen the film earlier this year at the Maryland Film Festival, but the thought of watching Josh and Benny introduce their Albert Lamorisse-inspired short in such a grand venue was too delightful to pass up. True to form, the Safdies’ joyous introduction spilled over into the audience. The American feature also screening that night, While We Were Here by Kat Coiro, was one I wanted to catch for consideration in our February American.Film.Week program. It was such a delight to take in these films in the Piazza Grande.

Earlier in the day I also caught Ape, another American feature by first-time director Joel Potrykus. The film is something of an “anti-comedy” with punk attitude (the lead actor lights nearly everything in front of him on fire). While rough around the edges, it definitely has a certain energy that catches audiences off-guard.

This morning I continued my exploration of the American terrain with People’s Park by Libbie Dina Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki, whose Foreign Parts played at the Film Forum last summer. The film includes a seventy+ minute floating tracking shot through a park in China; this is certainly the least (and therefore most) political work about the Chinese people I’ve seen. It was followed by the hilarious Somebody Up There Likes Me by Bob Byington. Swiss people were literally rolling in the aisles with laughter.

So much more to report…but must be heading off to the next film adventure!

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