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Locarno Film Festival: At the start there were stars like Laetitia Casta

Laetitias Leopard: This is what a morning in Locarno looks like. Image: keystone

Locarno Film Festival

Do it like the Bardot, eat life and the men – what we learn in Locarno

At the start of the 74th Locarno Film Festival, there were stars to choose from. In addition to Laetitia Casta, there are also John David Washington and Vicky Krieps. And a lot of rain, of course.

After half an hour with Laetitia Casta, we’re no smarter either. The woman is beautiful. And as boring as a baguette in the rain. Well, from her point of view, the thirty or so people who followed her “conversation” on Wednesday are certainly not more exciting. And you can’t call the audience beautiful anyway. It consists of masked faces, damp hair and layers of elegance-resistant but rain-repellent plastic. She probably compares us with cold sausages, what do we know about the audience’s view of the stars?

But after all, Laetitia Casta is not one of us, but the actress who receives the “Excellence Award” that evening. So the alcohol cup, previously donated by a champagne brand, now it’s Campari, and Casta gets it because it’s absolutely “central to the cinema”, as festival director Gioana A. Nazzaro emphasizes. Safe in France. But otherwise?

Laetitia Casta, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Stephanie Seymour, Karen Mulder and Daniela Pestova (from left) in Cannes in 2000 before a Victoria’s Secret show. Image: Hulton Archives

Laetitia Casta is 43, at 15 she was discovered as a model while building sandcastles on a Corsican beach, she was a sensation, she was fresh, her smile delighted everyone, she looked like a gentle sunrise, Yves Saint Laurent staged her with flowers and ears of wheat as a kind of natural wonder. At 19 she became an actress, twisted Obelix (Gérard Depardieu) ‘s head as Falbala in “Asterix and Obelix against Caesar”, saying that she had stumbled into this shoot “with a lot of naivety”, but afterwards she had a few contacts.

How she got into the film, the presenter wants to know, who is explicitly impressed by Casta’s successes as an actress and as a (four-time) mother, which sounds kind of weird these days, but said is said. “I left school very early,” says Casta apologetically, “as a model I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve seen a lot of films on the flights.”

Laetitia Casta and Yves Saint Laurent 1999. Image: Sygma

And how do modeling and acting relate to one another? “They fertilize each other, as a mannequin”, she never says “model”, she has learned to move in a room, to occupy it, to make her body suitable for images. “Fashion is like a silent film,” she will say on the evening when she receives the Campari Award.

Two films with her are shown in Locarno, one of them the biopic “Gainsbourg (vie héroïque)” in which she plays Brigitte Bardot. She asked Bardot for her consent, she says, and Bardot gave her advice on the role: “She said: ‘I behaved towards men and life as if I were a little girl in a bakery – I have just serve me. ›»

The Casta in the evening on the red carpet. Image: keystone

Laetitia Casta herself is in a friendly way as vague as possible in everything, but maybe you just have to admit that being beautiful is sometimes quite sufficient. And that the addiction to what is behind and below only arises from the desperation of the unsightly who want to be able to identify at least with a fragment of the mosaic from the brilliant existence of the stars.

And suddenly the ubiquitous Vicky Krieps (“The Phantom Thread”, “Old”, “Das Boot”) sits in front of us and says the nicest thing a star has ever said about Zurich in Locarno, of all places. In response to my question: “Ms. Krieps, you studied drama in Zurich, which makes us all very proud in Zurich, and now you suddenly see yourself catapulted into the superstar stratosphere: Do you have any idea what all the directors are looking for in you ? »

It is anything but warm in Locarno on the opening day, which can also be clearly seen in Vicky Krieps’ cloakroom. Not in the picture: her overknee socks. Image: keystone

Her answer is: “It makes me nervous when I wonder what others might see in me. But let’s go back to Zurich, I’m very sure that Zurich has helped me a lot. I chose the city because of the lake and nature – not the most obvious criteria for an acting school. But I thought to myself that in Zurich I would swim and hike a lot and not just hang around on the internet and wonder how famous I will become one day. I thought, in Zurich I will stay with myself. And I believe what the directors are looking for in me, that’s just me. “

Vicky Krieps plays in the Netflix film “Beckett” by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, with which Locarno will open on this grandiose rainy day on the Piazza Grande or, depending on the weather, in the multi-purpose hall FEVI. So Netflix cinema, not cinema cinema. In a few days you will be able to watch Beckett’s manhunt at home, and the central star is not Vicky Krieps, who plays a German who comes to Athens to fight capitalism, but John David Washington. Son of Denzels, title hero from “Tenet”, Zendaya’s love interest from “Malcolm & Marie” or loud-mouthed policeman from “BlaKkKlansman”, with whom he was nominated for an Oscar.

John David Washington celebrates the survival of the cinema in Locarno. And we all somehow with him. Image: keystone

In “Beckett” he is Beckett, an American who is being hunted down by corrupt police officers in Greece because he accidentally gets on the mysterious but hot trail of a crime. Washington is a former NFL professional, but as Beckett he is rather normal-bodied, his director fed him “with five-course meals and such,” says Washington, Beckett should be a completely normal man who is involved in an action adventure, you can believe him. The shoot was great, says Washington, “so international, five languages ​​were spoken on the set and everything was full of love.” “Well, I speak three or four languages ​​and for me film has always been international,” replies Krieps, the Luxembourger, the American.

At the opening at FEVI, Washington said a few hours later: “When I think of Beckett, I think of survival. And that’s why we’re all here to celebrate the survival of the screen experience. ” That’s nice, the only question is: will collective cinema experiences like the one in Locarno be limited to festivals in the future? Krieps is asked whether she has found herself in the figure of a resistance fighter: “It was very easy,” she says, “you just have to ask a homeless person how he is doing and what he thinks of capitalism.”

A real Jo moment: Washington and Alicia Vikander in “Beckett”. Image: Netflix

“Beckett” is gripping over long stretches, very physical, very puzzling, thanks to the stunning landscape similar to one of those Greek heroic epics in which an Odysseus or Oedipus or Heracles has to endure countless episodes of endangerment. It’s very romantic at first (with Alicia Vikander) and then very sad (without Alicia Vikander – why isn’t she here? Because she and Michael Fassbender had their first baby!). Everyone has a different reason why Beckett is being persecuted, sometimes it’s supposed to be the fascists, sometimes the communists, only the end is kind of stupid, but those are the ends of an astonishing number of films, maybe you shouldn’t watch the last quarter of an hour as a matter of principle.

Filomarino was already a guest in Locarno in 2011 (with “Diarchia”, in which Laetitia Casta’s current husband Louis Garrel plays) and is happy to be here again, he now has “significantly less hair, but more films”. The thing about the hair applies to many here. About the movies only for some. But the rain fell on us all that first day.


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