As the Locarno Festival’s three-day First Look showcase drew to a close, it was announced that Portugal, the debut feature by renowned Estonian playwright Lauri Lagle, took the top First Look prize. The seventh edition of First Look, which aims to present films in post-production, focused on unfinished titles from Baltic countries, an area whose reputation for film is rapidly on the rise.
Winning for its “originality and look at contemporary life in Estonia”, Portugal marks further recognition for Allfilm, the Estonian production company best known for its work on Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines, an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign-Language film in 2015.
Recognition was also given to Vytautas Puidokas’ El Padre Medico, a Lithuanian-Brazilian collaboration that follows the life of Alexander Ferdinand Bendoraitis (1919-1998), a leading medical figure and philanthropist in the Amazon in the 60s. The documentary, however, delves deeper into some of the complications of his identity, unravelling the fake narratives he constructed around himself, and promises to be a fascinating work.
Elsewhere, Moonika Siimets’ feature The Little Comrade took home the Le Film Français Award for its “great storytelling, international appeal, the great performance and historical reconstruction.” Produced by Estonia’s Amrion, The Little Comrade tells the story of six-year-old Leelo, whose mother is deported to a labour camp during Stalinist Estonia.
First Look took place between August 4-6, with the Locarno Festival running from August 2-12. Outside of Cannes and Berlin, the Locarno Festival, based in Switzerland, has one of the biggest industry attendances in Europe.