Actors Riz Ahmed & Molly Gordon To Skip Locarno Due to SAG-AFTRA Strike; Cate Blanchett Who Was Due To Attend As ‘Shayda’ Exec Producer Still To Be Decided

The Locarno Film Festival has issued a statement clarifying the situation with regards to which invited  SAG-AFTRA members will be attending its upcoming 76th edition running from August 2 to 12, in the light of the ongoing actors strike.

UK actor Ahmed, who was set to receive the Davide Campari Excellence Award, will no longer be in attendance.

His world premiere of Yann Mounir Demange’s Dammi will still take place on the Opening Night in Piazza Grande to an audience of 8,000 as planned.

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The screening of Bassam Tariq’s Mughal Mowgli in the Histoire(s) du cinéma section is also confirmed.  

Stellan Skarsgård, recipient of the Leopard Club Award, will forgo the award in solidarity with the strike. He will be in Locarno for the screening of his new film What Remains by Ran Huang in the Fuori concorso section.

The Award ceremony on the Piazza Grande on August 4 and the Conversation with the audience on August 5 have been cancelled.  

The screening of Theater Camp (2023) in the Piazza Grande on August 11 accompanied by co-director Nick Lieberman will continue as planned but co-director and actor Molly Gordon, as well as actors Ben Platt and Noah Galvin, will no longer be in attendance. 

The festival said it was also working with the team of Noora Niasari’s Shayda for which Cate Blanchett is executive producer, to finalize the terms of her participation.   

Locarno is the first major European film festival to be impacted by the strike.

It said in its statement that it saw the ongoing strike as a sign of the problems troubling the contemporary film industry and that it supported constructive discussion also respected the decisions of its guests.

Speaking to Deadline earlier in the day, Artistic Director Giona A. Nazzaro voiced his support for the industrial action.

“We are currently assessing how the strikes will impact us, but that does not undermine our support for the people that are striking for fair pay, share of profits, protection of intellectual creation, and to make sure the industry remains driven by human beings, not algorithms,: he said.

“I know this sounds idealistic, but ultimately if you think about it when we speak about the film industry, we think of those faces that pop up everywhere, but behind them are 1000s of talented individuals that have trouble paying rent, sending children to school, and surviving at the end of the month. Behind the word entertainment there is work and labor — this is crucial. We need to face the fact that if we go to watch even a tentpole movie, there are people behind it with skills and talent that make the tentpole possible, and these people need to be protected.”

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