Magazine article Screen International

Locarno Film Festival's Marco Solari Slams Corruption Claims

Magazine article Screen International

Locarno Film Festival's Marco Solari Slams Corruption Claims

Article excerpt

Speaking on the Swiss French-language radio station RTS, Solari declared that it was "absolutely ridiculous" to suggest that the parliamentarians would let themselves be influenced or corrupted by hospitality offered by such sponsors as Swisscom, La Poste or Swiss Railways at the festival.

"It is an insult to the dignity and intelligence of the parliamentarians," he declared.

He was reacting to an report on RTS about how corporate sponsors wine and dine Swiss politicians and, in many cases, pick up the tab for overnight stays at such summer events as Le Paléo Festival de Nyon, the Montreux Jazz Festival as well as the Locarno Film Festival.

Solari argued that the hospitality offered by sponsors enabled figures from the worlds of business, culture as well as politics to come together - "everyone profits from this" - and noted that this was particularly important for events "on the periphery" outside of the "Berne-Lausanne-Zurich triangle" where guests could not catch the last train or tram home after the evening's event.

He added that the presence of the Berne politicians in Locarno gave the festival an opportunity to show the economic impact it has on the canton of Ticino estimated at between $30.6m (CHF30m) and $51m (CHF50m).

Sensitivity about the levels of hospitality for politicians has reached an all-time high in the Alpine nation in the wake of revelations earlier this year about financial perks granted to members of Switzerland's House of Representatives who made a trip to Kazakhstan as well as the actions of lobbyists for Kazakh special interests in the House.

"Very clear limit"

In an interview with St Galler Tagblatt, Solari stressed the importance of sponsors for the festival, but pointed out: "We have a very clear limit which shouldn't be exceeded. This concerns the autonomy and freedom of choice of the artistic direction. This must be guaranteed. It shouldn't be allowed to be exposed to any political or economic pressure."

He explained that the festival - whose budget has increased from $4m to $13.4m (CHF13m) during his 15-year reign as president - could not live without the support of sponsors.

"Without institutional and private sponsors, a ticket for the Piazza Grande would probably cost 100 instead of 24 Francs," he said.

Israel showcase

In another interview for Swissinfo, Solari commented on the criticism levelled at the festival for its decision to choose Israel as the focus country for its showcase of films in postproduction.

„As far as Israel is concerned, it should not be forgotten that Locarno is a place of dialogue," Solari said. …

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