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Real-life emotions trump cartoon characters

Double triumph for Der Freund: Philippe Graber (left) was crowned best new talent while Micha Lewinsky carried off the best film prize Keystone

"Der Freund" (The boyfriend) has won the award for best film at the 11th Swiss Film Prize, beating Switzerland's most expensive production ever, "Max & Co."

This was the last time Swiss movie producers, directors and actors gathered in Solothurn during the local film festival for the ceremony, with plans afoot to revamp the event and hold it at a later date.

The jury, headed by Marthe Keller – known to many for her Hollywood roles in the 1970s – awarded the top prize to Der Freund for its capacity to both move people and bring them pure pleasure.

Micha Lewinsky’s film is about the difficulties a young man has living with a fabricated past. The jury preferred it to a cartoon, Max & Co., which is the most expensive Swiss film ever made, having cost SFr30 million ($27.5 million).

The best actress prize went to Sabine Tomoteo for her role in “Nebenwirkungen” (Secondary effects), while Bruno Cathomas was best actor in “Chicken Mexicaine”. Best new talent was Philippe Graber in Der Freund.

Best documentary went to “Heimatklänge” (Sounds of home) by Stefan Schwietert, which looks at yodelling and other traditional types of singing. Best short was “Auf der Strecke” (On the tracks) by Reto Caffi, a warning about the consequences of standing by and doing nothing.

Jeanne Waltz was awarded the best script award for “Pas Douce” (Not sweet), while rapper Stress and composer Mich Gerber were recognised with the jury’s special prize for their score in “Breakout”.

The brand-new “Quartz” trophies were given out in front of 650 guests. Chances are they won’t be seen in Solothurn again.

Last picture show

This was the last time the awards were held at the city’s Film Festival, the largest domestic festival of its kind. As of next year they will be held in a yet undecided location and at a later date, with a heavy serving of glitz.

No decision has been either about who will be giving the awards. It could a jury of Swiss personalities as has been the case until now, or it could be the Swiss Film Academy, which will be officially founded in April.

The Cinésuisse association is currently drawing up the academy’s statutes. It should count around 200 members, including previous winners of the Swiss Film Prize.

The academy’s first president will probably be Fredi M. Murer, director of “Vitus”, which was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination last year.

The academy will most likely be responsible for the nomination process according to Nicolas Bideau, head of the film section at the Federal Culture Office, and the nominees announced during the Solothurn Film Festival.

However it is not yet clear who will actually decide who the winners are. What is sure though is the Swiss film industry wants to use the awards as a platform to highlight its production.

It is likely that the awards will get the red-carpet treatment, with Swiss public television already planning a whole evening around the ceremony and local film production.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo’s parent company – has promised to finance the gala evening for the next three years, but is also looking for help from the city where the event will be held.

swissinfo with agencies

The Solothurn Film Festival is the most important festival for domestic productions.

Every year in January, the festival presents a representative selection of current Swiss films in “Swiss Forum”.

The festival program is supplemented with two exclusive special sections: the “Retrospective” and the “Invitation” section.

The event, which runs until Sunday, includes 300 films, of which 114 are Swiss premieres.

Documentaries have been given particular weight this year. Around 44,000 visitors are expected.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR