Well its been a few months! Sorry, work and has life has been crazy but things are returning to normal slowly. Anyway, apart from being crazy busy at work I have been on holiday in Switzerland for the Locarno Festival – the 70 anniversary of the Locarno Film Festival (Locarno70). I had a fantastic time. I was able to relax properly and enjoyed watching lots of great films…
This year I stayed in Ascona rather than Lugano. This meant I did not have a 1 hour train commute to and from the festival each day and meant I could see more – at my own pace. But what was also a motivation was the hotel I booked and the view I had from my room – overlooking Lake Maggiore. It was a breathtaking view to wake up to each morning!
Ascona is a beautiful town, it is like small Mediterranean coastal town with cobbled steers, gelato, tiny bars and cafe’s – in the mountains. It reminds me of Tossa De Mar and Cadaqués.
It was only a 30 minute walk from Locarno – or a 10 minute bus ride. It was very peaceful and relaxing and this helped me think about a few things and has allowed me to identify some things that I need and want to do in the near future. The weather was not perfect this year (unlike like last year) and there were a number of days where it rained or there were some heavy thunder storms. This was an experience – but also a lot of fun!
The film festival was great. I mostly watch the international program, as I like to see as many different films from around the world as possible and there were some great films. I also love watching films in the Piazza Grande, as the atmosphere is phenomenal – especially when a film is well received by the whole audience. For me, the Piazza Grande is the ultimate litmus test for a film, 9000 people – the majority from the general public – all with different background (nationality, faith, ideology). When a film is good, language does not matter; as the story transcends all these differences and boundaries to make the audience laugh, cry or think.
Among the starts to attend were the talented Adrien Brody (actor, The Pianist (2002), José Luis Alcaine (cinematographer, Jamón Jamón (1992). Producer Michel Merkt (Toni Erdmann (2016), Jean-Marie Straub (french filmmaker), probably the biggest start in Bollywood Irrfan Khan (actor, to many to list!), the amazing Golshifteh Farahani (actress, Rosewater (2014) and the stunning (and secret crush of mine) Vanessa Paradis (french actress and singer, Heartbreaker (2010) were just a few of the stars to and big names to make an appearance at the festival this year. Those guests and starts who received an award or whom spoke, all gave inspiring message of hope – for a world that currently feels dark and cruel. I will speak about some of the films I watched and liked in another post.
As this was also a holiday I took a day trip by train up into the mountains to the town of Engelberg went up by cable car to Mount Titlis (3020m up anyway). I love the view from the top of a mountain especially when the ground below is covered in clouds. On the way back I stopped off in the city of Luzern again and spent a couple of hours exploring the back streets of this beautiful city – and the chocolate and cake shops!
To end my holiday, I took a short coach trip to the amazing Valle Verzasca (photo below), a small alpine valley carved by 1000’s of years of glacier action, where at the village of Lavertezzo lying on the River Verzasca has pools of icy cool emerald-green water for swimming and rocks for soaking in the sun rays. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and probably as close to anything that could be described as a Garden of Eden in Europe.
I definitely plan on going back next summer but probably will only go for a long weekend to enjoy the film festival and few days relaxation. I cannot recommend enough to anyone who loves cinema, to at least experience Locarno once in your life. It is a truly amazing festival that will open your eyes to new ways of telling stories, new stars and new thinking.