I attended this year's festival because it was something I had been meaning to do for a long time. As part of the Open Doors event, festival goers got to see films from the francophone Sub-Saharan region of the African continent.
The whole thing left me with a mixed bag of impressions. For one thing, it was the first time I had travelled so far to take part in a film festival and it was not quite what I expected. Without a doubt, LFF is a huge monster of a machine to organise and pull off. There are films from more continents than God made and there are different styles of film to match different tastes.
If you live outside from the canton of Tessin, it is far from being the most convenient place to visit and it also happens to be a very expensive festival to attend.
On their roster is the usual slew of celebrities to give the event the extra oomph! the organisers feel the festival needs. I refer in particular to Kylie Minogue who was presenting, along with the filmmaker, Leos Carax, their film "Holy Motors". On the night (3rd August), Carax won an award, le Leopard d'honneur (the Golden Leopard) in recognition for his work as a filmmaker.
On the plus side, the LFF offered a unique opportunity to both budding and established African filmmakers a platform to showcase their work to a different, Western and rather unsuspecting audience.
It is a given that African films have much to offer but to advance more fully onto the worldwide stage (pun intended) it needs more distributorship and investment.
One film worthy of note in this category is the award-winning, gun-toting Viva Riva!
The film offers a real departure from stereotypical expectations of African films. The French-speaking Director call it a "polar" while I would in this context, translate this to mean "thriller".
It has all the graphic violence and (even more graphic) sex, romance and tragedy wrapped into one explosive package than you could expect. It also captures the heart of Kinshasa and leaves you burning for more. Yes, very err...thrilling.
Check out the LFF website: www.pardolive.ch for more information.