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Short films open a window on Bern

“Shortcuts Bern” aims to offer something for everyone. "Shortcuts Bern"

For those looking for an advent calendar with a difference this year, a new DVD linked closely to the Swiss capital, Bern, could be just the thing.

“Shortcuts Bern” provides a potted history of filmmaking in the capital over the past 100 years, and there’s one film to be discovered every day in the run-up to Christmas.

The collection of 25 short films spans the gamut of genres, from straight shorts to documentaries to animation.

What they have in common is that the action is either set in Bern, or the makers are or were based in the Swiss capital.

The project itself was funded by local institutions and companies, such as the city of Bern and “Der Bund” newspaper.

The oldest film “The arrival of the King of Siam” dates from 1897. Made by the Lumière Brothers – who are often credited with inventing cinema – it records the monarch’s bombastic parade, which took place in front of a crowd of thousands.

The most recent, “Nachtlichter”, is from 2003 and recounts the story of a woman’s sleepless night and her partner’s efforts to understand why she is stressed.


The DVD is the brainchild of project author Phillip Delaquis and veteran film journalist and art critic Fred Zaugg.

Conceived in a Bern bar over a few drinks one evening in January, the project was designed to throw a spotlight on the short-film genre.

“Short movies have big potential and a big problem – you work for two or three years and then you show it at ten festivals and then everyone forgets about it,” Delaquis told swissinfo.

The project is not expected to be a money-spinner but any profits will be channelled back to the filmmakers behind “Shortcuts Bern”.

Sex and culture

There is something for everyone on the DVD, which caters for interests as diverse as sex and culture.

For those interested in museums, there is “13 Bern Museums”, an experimental look at the capital’s attractions.

“Luora” is an animated fairytale about the tungsten elements in a light bulb in a streetlamp.

Delaquis’ personal favourite, though, is “Loosli”, made in 1999.

“[It] is a three-minute movie about sex in Bern. It’s fantastic, very ironic and very funny,” he enthused.

Former residents of Bern might find themselves particularly drawn to the DVD, according to Delaquis.

“We have [chosen] movies that will make you cry if you have [ever] lived in Bern,” he said

The DVD is available to buy from the website.

swissinfo, Faryal Mirza

The 25 films are divided into three categories: documentaries, animation, and fiction.
The shorts include:
The arrival of the King of Siam (1897);
13 Bern museums (1970);
The flasher from Grindelwald (2000);
Luora (2002)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR