The Retrospective program of the 70th Locarno Festival will be dedicated to French filmmaker Jacques Tourneur (1904 – 1977). Tourneur often worked in B-Movies, films which seem more incisive, visionary and topical to us nowadays than their greater siblings. Tourneur was able to blend the storytelling force of genre tales with unique visual poetry in his opus, perhaps a legacy from the dual American and European matrix, which distinguished his life.
The Retrospective, by curators Roberto Turigliatto and Rinaldo Censi, will be hosted by the historic Locarno cinema, the completely restored and rechristened GranRex.
Jacques Tourneur was born in Paris in 1904. His father was filmmaker Maurice Tourneur, one of the pioneers of cinema in France. Following his first films in France, Maurice moved with his family to the United States before the outbreak of the First World War, where he would become an established director acclaimed by audiences. They returned to France in 1928, where Jacques debuted as a director in 1931 with Tout ça ne vaut pas l’amour. He shot three more films in France and then decided to go back to the United States. His meeting with producer Val Lewton at RKO was at the roots of one of the most fruitful collaborations in the history of film; they both worked at some fascinating and sinister films, still recognized today as milestones in cinema: Cat People (1942), The Leopard Man (1943), I Walked with a Zombie (1943).
But Tourneur’s opus is not limited to these more rightly celebrated titles, for his rediscovery during the Seventies highlighted a fully-rounded author, capable of expressing himself in the most diverse genres: from the detective one (Nick Carter, Master Detective) to Western (Canyon Passage, Great Day in the Morning), from cloak and dagger (Anne of the Indies, The Flame and the Arrow) to war and spy films (Berlin Express, Days of Glory), from noir (Nightfall, Out of the Past), to melodrama (Experiment Perilous, Easy Living) or to adventure films (Appointment in Honduras, The City Under the Sea).
Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director of the Locarno Festival: “Tourneur’s name is known to aficionados and some of his films figure among the ones to be remembered within an extraordinary season like the second post-war period in America; it is not so for the totality of his opus, which is nevertheless of the highest quality. This Retrospective, organized together with important and prestigious institutions which I should like to thank here, will thus be an occasion to allow new generations to perceive the strength of a filmmaker who forged cinema that went through visual choices before words, which finds essential expressive tools within framings, camera movements, the use of light, of sound and colors. Considered to be the master of fantastic cinema, Tourneur always tried to go beyond what is visible, depicting those deep feelings that flutter under our skin and behind the surface of things. This is why his films stand up to the passing of time and are a source of inspiration for so many filmmakers.”
This project also features involvement by other prestigious Swiss and foreign institutions, which will ensure an itinerary making the Retrospective on Jacques Tourneur travel around until 2018. Among already confirmed bodies, the Retrospective will travel in Switzerland to the Cinémathèque suisse in Lausanne, to the Filmpodium in Zurich, to the Kino REX in Berne and to Les Cinémas du Grütli in Geneva; in France to the Cinémathèque française, in Italy to the Museo del Cinema in Turin and in the United States to the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
The 70th edition of the Locarno Festival will be held from August 2 to 12 2017.