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Swiss films open in Portugal

The work of Swiss film director Alain Tanner is currently screening in Portugal Keystone Archive

A festival of Swiss films kicks off in Portugal on Thursday with an unlikely theme -the sea.

Organisers of the festival, Pro Helvetia, the cultural foundation, told swissinfo that although Switzerland is a landlocked country, the sea has proven to be an enduring and popular subject among Swiss filmmakers, who often use water as a metaphor for escapism and freedom.

The programme consists of eight Swiss fiction features, four documentaries and four animated films, which will tour seven Portuguese cities, including Lisbon, for three months.

Pro Helvetia spokesperson Sabina Brockal told swissinfo the project has been set up to promote the role and perspectives of the Swiss cinema industry abroad and in particular to improve the Swiss presence in Portuguese film-clubs, art-schools and specialized cinemas.

Brockal said that while the sea is the central theme, Portugal also plays a key role in the selection, as most of the scripts begin there. “We chose films that aside from treating the ruling themes also offer a view on the heterogeneity and the history of Swiss cinematography,” Brockal said.

Dreams of the sea

The program called “Dreams of the sea” sets out to explore a possible divergence of approach between Swiss and Portuguese artists. “We do not necessarily share the same interpretation of the sea, however it is a common reference. In this project we hope to illustrate the Swiss approach to the sea and offer an alternate perspective” Brockal said.

Film schools and specialized cinemas in Portugal are to screen the films, which date from the early sixties through the late nineties.

The programme features prominent Swiss filmmakers such as Alain Tanner, Daniel Schmid, Patricia Platter, Nicolas Wadimoff and Denis Chouinard.

by Vanessa Mock and Devra Pitt

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR