The 58th edition of the Solothurn Film Festival is just around the corner (18-25 January) and in the programme of this important kermesse celebrating and rewarding Swiss cinema, no less than 10 short films are by young Ticino directors. A very high number of works in a sort of "new wave" that can only make us optimistic for the future of our region's cinema in the Swiss film scene and beyond. From the most experimental works to animation, from diploma films to more mature works, here are the titles not to be missed.
Short Film Panorama I - Architecture:
RAW CONCRETE by Christian Balictan (2022), self-produced. Screenings: 19.01, 12 noon Canva Blue / 23.01, 9.45 a.m. Palace.
PIAZZALE D'ITALIA by Enea Zucchetti (2021), self-produced. Screenings: 19.01, 12:00 noon Canva Blue / 23.01, 9:45 a.m. Palace.
Short Film Panorama III - Solitudes:
HAPPY HOMES by Agnese Làposi (2022), produced by Locarno Film Festival, CISA Conservatorio Internazionale di Scienze Audiovisive, RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera. Screenings: 21.01, 9:45 a.m. Canva / 24.01, 2:15 p.m. Canva.
I LEAVE by Aline d'Auria (2021), self-produced. Screenings: 21.01, 9:45 a.m. Canva / 24.01, 2:15 p.m. Canva.
Panorama short films IV - Territories:
For Upcoming Talents II - Struggles:
NINA by Chiara Toffoletto (2022), produced by CISA Conservatorio Internazionale di Scienze Audiovisive and Ventura film. Screenings: 20.01, 11:45 a.m. Capitol / 22.01, 2:15 p.m. Canva.
MOUNTAIN FLESH by Valentina Shasivari, produced by Cinédokké, Master ECAL/HEAD, RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera. Screenings: 20.01, 11:45 a.m. Capitol / 22.01, 2:15 p.m. Canva.
SERAFINA by Anna Simonetti and Noa Epars (2022), produced by HEAD Haute École d'Art et de Design - Département Cinéma. Screenings: 20.01, 11:45 a.m. Capitol / 22.01, 2:15 p.m. Canva.
Panorama short films - Avant-programme:
AUTOSAURUS REX by Marcel Barelli (2022), produced by Nadasdy Film, RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera. Screenings: 21.01, 17:15 Landhaus / 24.01, 20:30 Konzertsaal.
BURNT. BORING PORTRAIT OF AN ANGRY, YOUNG, BLACK MAN by Ben Donateo (2022), self-produced. Screenings: 20.01, 17:00 Canva Club / 24.01, 20:15 Canva Blue.
Remaining in the sphere of a young cinema capable of opening up new narrative paths, we would like to point out that on Saturday 21 January from 21.30 there will be the Upcoming Award Night of the Solothurn Film Festival, an evening during which the prize dedicated to the new talents of Swiss cinema will be awarded, endowed with 15,000 francs offered by SUISSIMAGE and SSA.
Among the medium- and feature-length films in the Solothurn Film Festival programme are also Ticino-related 14 works, eight of which were shot in the region with the support of the Ticino Film Commission, a documentary mainly made with archive images (and some animation created in Ticino), and a documentary by a Ticino director shot behind the scenes at the Zurich Opera House. Between previews of films about growing up and social revenge, films that pay homage to great personalities and people, films on social themes and comedies, sometimes very noir, and deep and intimate films, there is no shortage of films made and/or produced in Ticino.
In the Panorama feature film section, Fabio Pellegrinelli's film THE TEMPTATION OF EXISTENCE is shown for the first time to an audience beyond the Gotthard. The feature film, produced by Rough Cat (Lugano) in co-production with RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera and with the support of the Ticino Film Commission, was shot over four weeks in various locations in Ticino, mainly in the Lugano and Mendrisiotto areas. It is the story of a daring road movie along the roads of Canton Ticino with a coda towards Italy and the Adriatic Sea. Elvezio Zoppi, a retired teacher, receives four million in his account by mistake and sets off on his moped. On his trail are an unlikely detective and two dangerous henchmen. The film shows the diversity of Ticino's locations and landscapes, a microcosm characterised by peripheral views and extravagant locations. Underground bunkers, campsites, border custom, banks and luxury flats juxtapose with dilapidated buildings and factories in a fascinating territory full of treasures waiting to be discovered.
World premiere in the Panorama feature film section also for the film directed by Francesca Reverdito and Riccardo Bernasconi PAPAYA 69. The film, produced by Pic Film (Manno) with RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, was shot mainly in the Mendrisiotto area thanks to the support of the Ticino Film Commission. The first feature film by this pair of directors, known for numerous successful short films and web series, Papaya 69 tells the story of a special encounter between two girls who, in an unexpected and unpredictable way, manage to reconcile with themselves and take their revenge in life.
The Solothurn Film Festival will also present the Swiss premiere of Chiara Bellosi's film SWING RIDE, produced by tempesta with Rai Cinema in co-production with Tellfilm (Zurich) and RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera. Premiered at the 72nd Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section and released in Italian cinemas, the film is a coming-of-age story whose title is inspired by the famous merry-go-round with seats typical of amusement parks. Although the set and main scenario took place in Italy, in Lazio, the film was also shot in various locations in the Lugano region with the support of the Ticino Film Commission. Swing Ride, Chiara Bellosi's second feature film after Ordinary Justice, is a story of complicity, diversity and growing up. The protagonist is Benedetta, a fifteen-year-old girl at war with her body and with herself, to whom her family is close. Her father is absent, her mother, who has reluctantly given up her dream of becoming a dancer, often controls her diet to make her lose weight. Her daily life is brightened up after the arrival at the fun fair, where she meets Amanda, with whom she quickly gets to know and whom she would like to follow in her unruly but also free world.
Along similar lines is the documentary LA MIA DANZA, a medium-length film by Filippo Demarchi. An intimate and sincere self-portrait, the director presents the world premiere of his personal story: ever since he was a child, rather than playing football, he would have loved to take dance classes. Today Demarchi follows that childhood dream. The film is produced by Pic Film and RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera.
After the big premiere in the Piazza Grande at Locarno 75, we also find in the programme of the Solothurn Film Festival the debut film of Ticino director Caterina Mona. Produced by Cinédokké and RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, based in Savosa and shot in Zurich and Basel, SEMRET is one of producer Michela Pini's most recent works. After a long run in German and Italian-speaking Switzerland, the touching film reaches French-speaking audiences on the banks of the Aare. In the film, Caterina Mona narrates in a sensitive and direct manner a female social drama on the topics of migration and integration.
It is still Cinédokké for two international films produced by Michela Pini for the Savosa-based company. Vying for the Prix de Soleure, the Days' main award, is the film directed by Swiss-Canadian director Sophie Jarvis UNTIL BRANCHES BEND. Premiered in the Discovery programme of the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022, the film comes to Europe for its Swiss premiere. A Cinédokké co-production is also mentioned for the film SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT, a debut feature by Canadian director and screenwriter Luis de Filippis, presented at the Solothurn Film Festival among smaller Swiss co-productions. Also presented as a world premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival 2022, this family drama won the Changemaker Award for the depth with which it treats transgender issues.
We finish with a production again directed by Michela Pini with the feature film, presented in the Panorama feature section, UNREST by Zurich director Cyril Schäubli. Set in a watch factory in late 19th-century Switzerland, the film, acclaimed at major international festivals and winner, among others, of the Best Director award at the Berlinale 2022 in the Encounters section, is based on the experience lived and told to the director by his own great-grandmothers and grandmothers, as well as on the director's readings of the texts by the Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin (1842 - 1921), a choreographer who lived in the Canton Jura. An interesting reflection on aspects and facets of Swiss society, produced by Seeland Filmproduktion in co-production with SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, in which Ticino-born Stefano Knuchel stars.
Following its huge box-office success - the film is set to be the most-watched Swiss cinema production of 2022 - Barbara Kulcsar's comedy GOLDEN YEARS, produced by Zurich-based Zodiac Pictures in co-production with Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion, SRF, SRG SSR, ZDF and blue+ Blue Entertainment, arrives in the Panorama Suisse showcase. Filmed partly in Ticino in 2021 thanks to the support of the Ticino Film Commission, it is the romantic and funny story of a retired couple in search of happiness through a journey that will confront them with unexpected choices. In this road movie about old age, the Torello di Carona (Lugano) has become a very unusual community in which the protagonist finds herself spending a few days. Actresses from Ticino were also on screen for a film that delighted many viewers beyond the Alps.
An all -Ticino location also for the film MAD HEIDI by directors Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein. Their reinterpretation in full "Swissploitation" style, in a comic "horror splatter" key, of Johanna Spyri's literary classic kicks off with a few scenes, staged at Bellinzona's Castelgrande. The film is proving a real hit at genre film festivals around the world and will certainly not fail to make the audience in Solothurn laugh.
Documentaries include DOUGLAS SIRK - HOPE AS IN DESPAIR by Roman Hüben, produced by Pic Film (Manno) in co-production with Berlin Producers Media. The documentary had its world premiere as part of the 75th Locarno Film Festival's retrospective on the master of melodrama Douglas Sirk; more recently it won the award for The Best Arthouse Film at the St. Moritz Art Film Festival and had its international premiere at the Filmfest Hamburg 2022. In his documentary Roman Hüben offers an investigative portrait of the German-born American director, who lived the last years of his life in Ticino in Castagnola (Lugano). Thanks to the testimonies of people close to him and unpublished accounts from his wife's diary, the film gets closer to the intimate life of this man, long shrouded in mystery. The work also bears witness to Ticino as a land of great cultural figures, from Hermann Hesse to Patricia Highsmith via Paulette Goddard and Erich Maria Remarque.
Also among the documentaries, BECOMING GIULIA, the debut film by Ticino director Laura Kaehr, already recipient of the Audience Award at the last Zurich Film Festival, will be on stage at the Reithalle. Produced by Point Prod (Carouge), in co-production with SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, RTS Radio Television suisse and RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, the film explores the microcosm of a great opera house through the story of Giulia Tonelli, prima ballerina of the Opernhaus grappling with her difficult return to the stage after maternity leave. A film that is one of several at this year's Solothurn Galas that feature strong female protagonists outside the stereotypes.
For documentaries, we also highlight the Swiss premiere of NATURAL BORN DRIVER - THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF IVAN CAPELLI by Ticino director Gionata Zanetta. A Sky Original work, co-produced with Ginny Productions from Chiasso, the Luganese director mixes the old 16mm films of Formula 1 champion Ivan Capelli's family with animations and re-enactments interpreted by Capelli himself to tell the story of this great motor racing champion's life.
We continue with the special Rencontre programme, dedicated for the first time to the topic of film editing. Guest of honour is the Swiss-Dutch film editor Katarina Tuerler, who will bring to Solothurn some of the more than 60 films she has edited in her long career. These include RIDER JACK by This Lüscher, produced by Langfilm and shot in Ticino, Locarno and the Centovalli in 2014.
We conclude with some "cameos from Ticino": in the documentary in the running for the Prix de Soleure THE CURSE by Maria Kaur Bedi you will find a passage filmed at Saceba in Mendrisiotto. The world premiere documentary competing for the Audience Award, THE GIACOMETTIS by Susanna Fanzun, is largely set in the Italian Grisons (Valle Bregaglia). Finally, the music of Camilla Sparksss, the musical project of Swiss-Canadian singer, resident in Malcantone, Barbara Lehnhoff: her soundtrack for the documentary HAPPY PILLS by Arnaud Robert.