Locarno Film Festival

© Locarno Film Festival
© Locarno Film Festival

The NCCR/Locarno connection: how it all began

Ethics in this NCCR MSE has from the early beginnings of this SNSF research project focussed on the need to build communication bridges and platforms for the sciences and the public. If we want to enter into a serious discourse about the ethical challenges of Engineering Life we must first and foremost develop a common language which allows for a discussion to take place between all stakeholders. Accordingly, our NCCR has developed a matrix for moral discourse called Art of Molecule (AoM) which over the course of the years has helped us to engage in this process. Amongst numerous other of our ArtSci projects the cooperation between our NCCR and the Locarno Film Festival stands out.

In early 2019, I met with two leading representatives of the „world capital of auteur cinema" to discuss the idea of mixing our NCCR’s scientific Know How with their artistic competence: Lili Hinstin, artistic director and Stefano Knuchel, founder and organizer of the festival’s Basecamp laboratory of ideas immediately received our plans to connect with great enthusiasm. During this first meeting in Locarno we decided to establish a collaboration -  which truly turned out to become a win-win situation.

We were invited to discuss the ethical challenges of Engineering Life in front of the 2019 festival’s live audience and to take the stage in one of the three annual Locarno Talks la Mobiliare. In addition, five of our young PhD students and postdoc researchers were asked to participate in the festival's Basecamp attended by 150 (!) filmmakers from around the world. Over a period of 10 days, the scientists could meet, discuss, work and connect with this exceptional group of artists, allowing them to improve their science communication skills and to take a huge leap out of conventional scientific in the box thinking.

This promising start of our ArtSci connection came to an unexpected halt in 2020, when due to the pandemic the Locarno Film Festival had to switch to a hybrid, online version. But in 2021, despite a number of restrictions still imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, the festival lit up its big screen on Piazza Grande again and invited real people to come to Locarno. So, for the second time we sent a team of our young NCCR MSE science „ambassadors“ from the University of Basel and ETH Zurich into what turned out to become a „once in a lifetime“ experience for them.

- Ralf Stutzki, Head Ethics NCCR MSE -