Dominican Film COCOTE Wins Locarno's First 'Signs of Life' Competition

The Dominican film Cocote by director Nelson Carlo de los Santos is the winner of the award for Best Film in the 'Signs of Life' competition at the 70th edition of the Locarno Film Festival. This marks both the first time that a Dominican film participates in competition at the Swiss film festival, and the first time that the 'Signs of Life' section. The award comes with a cash prize of 5,000 CHF (about $5,200).

Cocote follows Alberto (played by Vicente Santos), an evangelical gardener who returns to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral, killed by an influential man. To mourn the deceased, he is forced to participate to religion celebrations that are contrary to his will and beliefs.

De los Santos studied cinematography in Buenos Aires, later at Edinburgh College of Art, and received his MFA in Film/Video at CalArts. His thesis, the feature-length essay Santa Teresa y otras historias had its World Premiere at FIDMarseille, where it won Georges de Beauregard’s Prize, after which it played in numerous film festivals including Toronto, New York, Mar del Plata, Viennale, and was also the winner of the Cinema Tropical Award for Best First Film. 

The jury composed by the Japanese film critic and programmer Chris Fujiwara, the American critic Jordan Cronk, and the Italian programmer Maria Bosanti, also gave a special mention to Era um Vez Brasília by Brazilian director Adirley Queirós.

Additionally, Casa Wabi Foundation and Mantarraya with the support of the Morelia International Film Festival granted the first edition of the Casa Wabi – Mantarraya Foundation Award to Phantasiesätze by Dane Komljen, consisting of a residence of up to three months in Casa Wabi Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

The 70th edition of the Locarno Film Festival took place August 2-12.