LOCARNO, Switzerland — Two doc features framing mordant alternative visions of war and soccer – Tiago Hespanha’s “Campo” and Pedro Filipe Marques “Viveiro” (Breeding Ground) – shared the top prizes at the 8th Locarno First Look showcase, the Festival announced Sunday evening.
A pix-in-post focus on six-or-so titles from a national cinema, or region, First Look is one of the main industry draws of the Swiss Festival.
Produced by Terratreme Filmes’, a company created by filmmakers which backed 2017 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit “The Nothing Factory,” “Campo” won a €65,000 ($75,000) in post-production services from Cinelab Bucharest.
Backed by Luis Urbano and Sandro Aguilar at O Som e a Furia, a classic arthouse producer whose credits include Ivo M. Ferreira’s “Letters from War” and Miguel Gomes’ “Arabian Nights,” “Breeding Ground” won € 5,600 ($6,500) in advertising, donated by Le Film Français, and an award worth €5,000 ($5,800) donated by Kaiju Cinema D/ffusion for the production of a key art design.
The First Look Jury was made up of SXSW film head Janet Pierson, San Sebastian Festival director and José Luis Rebordinos and new Vienna Film Festival director Eva Sangiorgi.
Directed by Hespanha (“Industrial Revolution,” “Guided Tour”), an alum of Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra U., “Campo” – taking it title from the Latin and Rome’s Campo de Marte., frames an sometimes bucolic and often ironic essay-portrait of Portugal’s Alcochete firing range just outside Lisbon, Europe’s biggest military base. Yes, it takes in its training exercises, but the documentary, which suggests a voyage of discovery, also captures bucolic scenes: Wildlife, whether deer or frogs, and farming just beyond its fences. The multiple scenes of sheep trotting this way and that, to no apparent purpose, will not be coincidental.
“I started out exploring an extreme place where war is simulated, finding real destruction, excitement and boredom,” said Hespanha. “An attempt to grasp the matter and the energy that we are made of,” “Campo” is “a film that points to the ephemerality and absurdity of our life on this planet,” he added.
“Campo” shows compassion for the soldiers on their military exercises at Alcochete, cowed by its explosions, one writhing in agony at an untoward injury at night.
“Breeding Ground” lenses action at Portugal’s Arcozelo soccer club, just south of Oporto. But its ficus is not on any burgeoning future Cristiano Rinaldo but the club’s back-room staff, hidden away in their pea-green wall painted chambers, the expansive Sao and tongue-tied Quina, who wade through what seems the Herculean task of the club’s youth sides’ laundry, and a somewhat work-shy groundsman.
“‘Breeding Ground’ blooms from the worn out grass of an old football field and flows through the green corridors where an endless taking care of clothes of all sizes brings us back the lives of its few but faithful workers,” said director Marques.
He added: “Built with only observational footage, it gives a glimpse of one of the ‘best futures’ that parents and children may dream.”
He may well be talking about Sao and Quina, not any soccer stars of tomorrow.