Interview: Mattia Storni, Locarno Film Festival

You’re Head of Marketing for the Locarno Festival – which provides childcare for its guests and delegates! Can you tell us about how the Festival came about with that decision?

The Locarno Festival has always tried to offer a 360-degree experience to its visitors. We know how difficult it is to combine family and work life, and for the different professionals attending the Festival, as well as visitors attending the movie program, it is important to offer a supporting service. The main goal is to make the Locarno Festival accessible to families with young children.

 

And how does Locarno make it work? Is it on-site? Is it voucher-based? Do you have any screenings for younger audiences as well?

We offer a day-care service with qualified staff, which, for the 70th edition of the Festival, will start on August 3rd. Located 50 meters from the Palexpo (FEVI), i.e. right behind the Spazio Cinema (Forum), the Kids Corner is open from 10.30 to 12.30 AM and from 1.30 to 6.30 PM, with a convenient fee of CHF 5 per day for each child.

For no more than two consecutive screenings, children from 1 to 12 years of age are welcomed by 3 professionals who will guide them through a series of playful activities, such as drawing, swimming (2 pools available), biking, and reading. In the afternoon drinks and snacks are offered.

There is also an evening service for babysitting, at home or at the hotel, where festivalgoers’ can book a babysitter 24 hours in advance through the Locarno Festival.

A brand new feature for the 70th edition of the Locarno Festival is Locarno Kids, introduced for the benefit of the festivalgoers of the future. On the one hand, we offer a series of morning screenings selected especially for younger viewers and on the other, we give the children a glimpse of what the filmmaking business is all about, via a series of behind-the-scenes afternoon workshops led by industry professionals, in partnership with the Lugano-based cultural kids program, LAC edu. With Locarno Kids we aim to complete the 360-degree experience we would like to provide for our visitors.

 

 

What have the responses been from guests and delegates (of all ages)? What impact does it have on the atmosphere at the Festival, if any?

The service we provide is very much appreciated; parents can attend the program, work at and enjoy the Locarno Festival atmosphere without renouncing to bring their children with them.

 

Are you a parent or carer yourself? If so, did that have an impact on how you thought about work?

Yes I am, and it is futile to mention how much this affects working life. The balance between family and working life represents one of the biggest challenges to face. On the one hand we concentrate on guaranteeing the best future to our children, and on the other hand we work a lot to provide for it. In this sense, what we offer through childcare service at the Locarno Festival satisfies us, because we are contributing with our services in one way or the other.

 

Had anyone at the Festival seen childcare at another festival or industry event, or did you start from scratch?

Our regional tourist board (Ascona-Locarno Tourism) is certified as a Family Friendly Destination and provides several programs created just for families. The service was created thanks to this close collaboration.

 

What advice would you offer to other festivals about introducing childcare?

Childcare service needs professionals and qualified staff in order to work properly. It is of course delicate to leave your children to people you don’t know, this is why it needs to be an official service provided and guaranteed by the event itself.

 

 

Why are film festivals so important for films and filmmakers, especially in the digital era? And why is it important that as many filmmakers (and industry delegates) as possible can attend them?

Film festivals represent the ideal platform to show the works and create dialogue around them. Our interdisciplinary and international think tank StepIn during the Industry Days (3-6) addresses exactly that. Distributors, exhibitors, producers, sales agents, funding agencies, marketing professionals, streaming platforms and film festivals representatives take part in closed working sessions to discuss the state of the film industry. This year in particular, they will focus on “The Theatrical Experience and the Future of Auteur Cinema in the Age of Global Streaming Platforms and Social Networks” and will feature, as keynote speakers, Bobby Allen (MUBI’s VP of Content), Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse’s CEO) and Robert Walak (President of Focus Features).

 

What other plans (if any) does Locarno have for changing how film festivals operate to make them more accessible to more people?

 For its 70th anniversary, the Locarno Festival has come up with many new elements to further its accessibility. The Locarno Festival is a festival with a long and rich history, offering film fans as well as industry professionals a quality program. But it also looks to the future. The opening of the new PalaCinema and the reopening of the fully refurbished GranRex add to that accomplishment. Also, the restructuring of LaRotonda, the village of Locarno Festival, the enlargement of the Spazio Forum, and many more venues and initiatives contribute to the diversified offerings of the Locarno Festival.

 

 

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