This year’s Festival internazaionale del film Locarno featured several examples of the curious – and, I daresay, distinctively Swiss – phenomenon of the blockbuster documentary. Some of these were traditional documentaries – Marcel Schüpbach’s portrait of Carla Del Ponte “Carla’s List” (Switzerland) was part of the prestigious outdoor screenings on the Piazza Grande – and some were narrative films that freely mixed fictional and documentary modes. The latter category included Michael Steiner’s “Grounding” (Switzerland), one of the most popular Swiss films of the year, which chronicles the financial troubles of Swissair with a level of detail that can only be called breathtaking. But as with all film festivals, some of the best moments in Locarno came in the surprises that were found in the less hyped screenings.

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