This year’s edition of the Locarno Film Festival promised to be an edgier affair with Cannes’ Directors Fortnight ex-artistic director Olivier Pere at the helm. His choices were provocative and signaled a youthful revamp for the festival, now in its 63rd year. Pere himself is only 39. As Pere told the Hollywood Reporter before the festival kicked off on August 4, “Locarno is getting a facelift this year. We want to surprise people. Expect the unexpected.” That they’ve delivered.
No doubt the film that rattled everyone at Locarno was Bruce Labruce’s “LA Zombie,” which had its premiere at the festival last week as Locarno’s late-evening opener. A 63-minute feature that features unsimulated gay sex and zombies, the film made headlines before its screening when it was blocked from the Melbourne International Film Festival lineup. Adding to “Zombie”‘s underground allure is its star, French gay porn sensation François Sagat, who also happens to appear in another equally explicit Locarno entry, “Homme au Bain,” from director Christophe Honoré. Even the festival’s opening night Piazza screening, Benoit Jacquot’s “Deep in the Woods,” courted controversy for its rough sex scenes and rape sequence.
indieWIRE‘s resident film critic Eric Kohn is planted in Locarno until the festival wraps up on August 14. Click below to read his reviews from the festival: