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Susan Kouguell Interviews Stefano Knuchel Head of Locarno Summer Academy

Susan Kouguell Interviews Stefano Knuchel Head of Locarno Summer Academy

I met with Stefano Knuchel, Head of the Summer Academy, the afternoon before the Academy and Film Festival began. Now in his second
year in this position, Mr. Knuchel is enthusiastic about the students’ talents and the exciting opportunities that await them at the Academy.

Knuchel: “Every continent except for Australia has been represented so far at the Academy. The shape and tradition of the Academy is mixing life with
cinema.” Knuchel continues, “The program gives students a sense to be a well-rounded director. It’s difficult to be yourself and in moviemaking …what does
it mean to be yourself?” Knuchel smiles, “You film who you are.”

An important goal of the Academy is the exchange of ideas and experiences not only with the filmmakers offering master classes, including Agnes Varda,
Roman Polanski and Victor Erice, but also between the students themselves.

Knuchel: “The students’ gain not only knowledge but an exchange with other filmmakers at their level; some of the students from last year are now making
movies together.”

Knuchel on Agnès Varda

“What I like about Varda’s work — it’s like you can’t tell the difference between her movies and her life– it seems like cinema is the way to go through
life and leave some signs of this life.”

The qualities Knuchel looks for in an applicant

Knuchel: “You must have a certain heart and soul to keep making movies. Sometimes it’s difficult; there are lots of obstacles. There are many things
against you — filmmaking is not an easy life. It’s more and more difficult to make money from it. When I look at the young directors’ work I need to feel
this kind of urgency from the applicants. I like having different kinds of identities and different approaches to filmmaking.”

Excerpted from the Pardo Web site:

Founded in 2010 the Locarno Summer Academy is dedicated to developing emerging talents with its training program for young filmmakers, professionals,
students and film critics. The program includes lectures, round tables, labs, workshops and case studies with well-established names from the film world,
offering participants the opportunity to meet professionals and make new contacts.

The Locarno Summer Academy hosts three different initiatives:

  • Filmmakers Academy:
    A program for 25 young filmmakers from all over the world. A chance to interact with auteurs, producers, and other professional figures of
    international renown that will give participants the opportunity to extend their professional network and to broaden their knowledge of the various
    aspects of being a filmmaker, in the innovative spirit and auteur tradition that Locarno has always embodied.
  • Critics Academy:
    A training program for 10 young film journalists/critics. Organized by Indiewire’s Chief Film Critic and Senior Editor Eric Kohn and Eugene
    Hernandez (Deputy Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center). The program includes conversations with critics, roundtables with guests and
    discussions with professionals, to connect the young critics to the workings of the industry.
  • Documentary Summer School:
    In its 14th year, the DSS offers places for up to 20 university students in the fields of cinema, media and communication. This year’s program focuses
    on myriad aspects of documentary cinema; namely, narrative structures and production issues.

Knuchel: “The only thing you have is your own life, your identity, your films, and I encourage students to work on that. There’s a lot of potential with
young filmmakers, but the filmmaker has to be convinced that they have the potential.”

To learn more about the Summer Academy:

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell presents international workshops and seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! and THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting
company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide.,

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