Though they may not appear in the work they play such a substantial role in creating, film directors are amongst the most important individuals in all of entertainment. Serving as metaphorical architects, they help writers bring their screenplays to life by utilizing their creative and imaginative personalities to translate words on paper into cinematic gold. From Quentin Tarantino to Steven Spielberg, each and every one of these esteemed men and women possess a unique vision which they apply to every project they work on and simultaneously help define film as we know it today. Not all of them are as widely revered as the aforementioned names however, existing almost in obscurity relative to the popularity of their work for a number of different reasons that would take an entire article to expand upon. Instead, we are going to focus on one of those directors and an instance where he did receive the recognition he deserves after Harmony Korine won the award for his outstanding achievement in film at this year’s Locarno Film Festival.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the name Harmony Korine, you’re almost certainly with at least one of his works. He made his Hollywood debut when he wrote the screenplay for the 1995 film Kids when he was just 18 years old, which was directed by Larry Clark and lauded for its authenticity in exploring the life of lives of NYC street youth at the time. He made his directorial debut two years later with the release of 1997’s Gummo, which was initially a flop in box offices but has gone on to achieve cult classic status amongst film aficionados. His most recent efforts include 2012’s Spring Breakers and 2019’s The Beach Bum, which started esteemed actors such as James Franco, Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg and many others as Korine took a much more comedic approach with both projects to great reception by audiences and critics alike. He’s even directed campaigns for brands like Gucci and music videos for artists such as Rihanna, further highlighting just how significant of a career Korine has forged for himself. This subsequently makes it of virtually no surprise that the director has been selected to win this year’s “Honorary Leopard” from Locarno Film Festival, which is handed out once annually to an individual who has exhibited “outstanding achievement” in film. When discussing Korine, Locarno artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro had glowing praise for Korine: “A rebellious anarchist – both dangerous and poetic in his amused, cultivated radicalism – Korine redefined the term “maverick” in U.S. cinema, without ever losing the smile on his face or the sheer fun of it all. An auteur in the present indicative.” It’s never easy to encapsulate Harmony Korine and his talents into words, but Nazzaro did a pretty good job of summing up what the eccentric director is all about and serves to highlight why Korine is deserving of such an award after nearly three decades in the entertainment industry.
Harmony Korine is certainly an eccentric individual, and his work isn’t necessarily something the average moviegoer would rush to see on opening day. But nonetheless, he is responsible for cinematic gold that has constantly existed at the forefront of popular culture and continues to persist today. If you’re unfamiliar with Korine’s work you should certainly check it out as he graciously accepts his award for everything his work his allowed him to achieve as a filmmaker.