Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash: Top Winner of 2021 Locarno Film Festival

Indonesian director Edwin’s homage to and deconstruction of Asian 1980s action movies wins the Golden Leopard at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival.


Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, Indonesian director Edwin’s homage to and deconstruction of 1980s ultra-violent Asian action movies, has won the Golden Leopard for best film at the 2021 Locarno Festival.

Deconstructing impotence

It’s somewhat ironic that the festival’s top prize should go to a film about erectile dysfunction.

The feature, an adaptation of the novel by Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan, is a revenge tale involving a hired killer who uses violence to compensate for his public shame in being impotent and a female fighter who takes over his burden of vengeance.

It also stars Ajo Kawir and Ladya Cheryl.

Indonesian director Edwin’s quirkily yet nonsensically titled Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash may be a suitable winner in what is a strange year for the Swiss festival under the new artistic direction of Giona A. Nazzaro.

As a mixture of several populist genres, using impotence as a metaphor for broader critique of a toxic culture that puts emphasis on virility, the film is an exemplar of Nazzaro’s goal to shift Locarno toward more genre-defined fare. Yet as a work of social relevance from an established filmmaker, awarding it also suggests nod to the auteur-driven arthouse tradition that Locarno Fest is known for.

The Match Factory is handling international sales.


Dario Argento

In a surprise announcement at the Locarno award ceremony, the festival gave its lifetime achievement award to Italian director Dario Argento. The famed filmmaker behind horror classics Suspiria (1977) and Tenebrae (1982), was also honored for his surprising lead performance as an aging father in Gaspar Noé’s Vortex, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Best Director: Abel Ferrara

The Leopard for best director went to New York veteran filmmaker Abel Ferrara for Zeros and Ones, a thriller starring Ethan Hawke as an American soldier assigned to a mysterious mission in Rome after the Vatican has been blown up.

The best actress honor went to Anastasiya Krasovskaya for her starring role in Natalya Kudryashova’s Russian drama Gerda.

Mohamed Mellali and Valero Escolar took a joint best actor honor for The Odd-Job Men by Spanish filmmaker Neus Ballús. The surrealist comedy, which follows plumbers dealing with a series of eccentric clients, also won the European Cinemas Network honor for Best European film at Locarno. Beta Cinema is selling the movie worldwide.


In Locarno’s Concorso Cineasti del Presente sidebar of first and second films, Francesco Montagner’s documentary Brotherhood, which follows three Bosnian brothers, born into a family of shepherds, took the best film honor.

The best emerging director award went to Hleb Papou for his drama The Legionnaire, about the only African-Italian officer in Rome’s riot police; Saskia Rosendahl won the best actress honor for her performance in Sabrina Sarabi’s No One’s With The Calves, with Gia Agumava taking the section’s best actor prize for his starring role in Elene Naveriani’s Wet Sand.

Our Eternal Summer

A special jury prize went to Émilie Aussel for the coming-of-age drama Our Eternal Summer.

British director Charlotte Colbert took the best first feature honor for her debut, She Will, starring Malcolm McDowell, Alice Krige, and Rupert Everett.

The 74th Locarno International Film Festival wrapped up August 14 with a gala screening of Respect, Liesl Tommy’s Aretha Franklin biopic, starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.

The full list of 2021 Locarno Festival winners:

Golden Leopard for Best Film

Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, dir. Edwin

Special Jury Prize of the Cities of Ascona and Losone

A New Old Play, dir. Qui Jiongjiong

Leopard for Best Director

Abel Ferrara for Zeros and Ones

Leopard for Best Actress

Anastasiya Krasovskaya for Gerda, dir. Natalya Kudryashova

Leopard for Best Actor

Mohamed Mellali and Valero Escolar for The Odd-Job Men, dir. Neus Ballús

Special Mentions

Soul of a Beast, dir. Lorenz Merz

Espiritu Sagrado, dir. Chema García Ibarra

Concorso Cineasti del presente 

Leopard for Best Film

Brotherhood, dir. Francesco Montagner

Best Emerging Director

Hleb Papou for The Legionnaire

Special Jury Prize Ciné+

Our Eternal Summer, dir. Émilie Aussel

Leopard for Best Actress

Saskia Rosendahl for No One’s By The Calves, dir. Sabrina Sarabi

Leopard for Best Actor

Gia Agumava for Wet Sand, dir. Elene Naveriani

Best First Feature

She Will, dir. Charlotte Colbert

Special Mention

Holy Emy, dir. Araceli Lemos

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dario Argento