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Locarno Film Festival Cancels 2020 Edition and Won’t Go Virtual

A special initiative titled "Locarno 2020 — For the Future of Films" is being launched to support directors whose films have been blocked by the pandemic.

General View of the Piazza Grande Square During the 69th Locarno International Film Festival in Locarno Switzerland 08 August 2016 the Festival Del Film Locarno Runs From 03 to 13 August Switzerland Schweiz Suisse LocarnoSwitzerland Cinema Locarno Film Festival - Aug 2016

The Piazza Grande Square during the 69th Locarno International Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland

Wey/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Organizers for the Locarno Film Festival have announced the 2020 edition is canceled amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 Locarno Film Festival was scheduled to take place August 5-15. Locarno artistic director Lili Hinstin said in a statement to Variety that organizers “looked at a number of different scenarios” and agreed an August launch date is not possible for the 2020 festival.

“For us the priority was to save the physical aspect of the festival, which for us is very closely tied to its setting since Locarno audiences are in this amazing place between a lake and a mountain where you have the Piazza Grande with this gigantic screen,” Hinstin said, adding the 2020 festival won’t have a digital or virtual component either because “during the immediate post-confinement period I don’t think people will really want to sit in front of their computer screens.”

Instead of a festival this year, Locarno organizers are launching a new initiative to support independent filmmakers titled “Locarno 2020 – For The Future of Films.” Per Variety, “the initiative will consist of monetary prizes that will be given to directors whose movies have been blocked by the pandemic and are therefore suffering economic damage. The prizes will be based on artistic value, and will consist of: A Special Pard for an international director; a Special Pard for a Swiss film, and also other prizes and forms of support.”

Locarno will create two juries to award the prizes to international films and Swiss projects. Hinstin said, “We said to ourselves: we have to (set) aside the usual paradigms and think about this situation differently. In a moment of crisis like this we have to try to do something different. We can only be very humble in front of the tragic magnitude of this crisis for the economy of the film industry.”

The Locarno Film Festival takes place annually each August and has been running since 1946, making it one of the longest-running film festivals in the world. The top prize of the Festival is the Golden Leopard. Organizers are aiming to have the festival back as normal in 2021.

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