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Switzerland showcases its cinema in Cannes

Banquise (Icefloe) is in the short film competition.

Swiss films are not among the gala screenings at this year's Cannes festival, which opens on Wednesday, but the Swiss industry will be much more present than in 2005.

Two short films and several co-productions have been selected for the competition, while a “Swiss Day” will present young Swiss film talent.

After a “disastrous” year in 2005, Switzerland will be much more present at this year’s event, according to Micha Schiwow, director of Swissfilms.

“Things are moving. All we need is a breakthrough. We haven’t managed to get a feature film in the official selection, but although we don’t have one there today, there’ll definitely be one in the future,” explained the Swiss producer.

A Swiss animation film Banquise (Icefloe), directed by Claude Barras and Cédric Louis has been selected for the short film competition. Hunde (Dogs) by Matthias Huser will be competing for the Cinéfondation award, reserved for film school projects.

New talent

Switzerland, alongside Russia, Singapore, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Israel and Venezuela, has been invited to present up-and-coming Swiss film directors and new trends in Swiss filmmaking in the “All the cinemas of the world” programme, created last year.

The event includes four new feature films: Verflixt verliebt (Why we try) by Peter Luisi, Strähl by Manuel Flurin Hendry, Garçon stupide (Stupid boy) by Lionel Baier and Mein Name ist Eugen (My name is Eugen) by Michael Steiner, the new star of Swiss cinema.

The programme will also show nine new short films.

“This section allows us, at a time when Swiss films are on the up, to showcase films by several young promising directors,” said Schiwow. “It’s their chance to get noticed.”

Very co-productive

This year, as is often the case at the festival, Switzerland again makes its mark through a number of co-productions, such as Ca brûle (It is burning), by French director Claire Simon, co-produced by Zurich film company Vega Film.

The festival programme describes the film as Swiss “clearly for political reasons” as France is already heavily represented in the different competitions, said Schiwow.

“You have to say that our presence via co-productions is also a sign of weakness as it shows that we can’t make films ourselves or lead co-productions in which Switzerland is the main player,” he said.

But Schiwow still believes that co-productions are a sign of the “considerable levels of work” by Swiss filmmakers.

He makes the point that Swiss cinemagoers show a keen interest in their own [country’s] films, and he predicts that “sooner or later the Swiss will enjoy success at a major international film festival such as Cannes”.

Tangible results

For the moment, Swissfilms, in collaboration with the Locarno International Film Festival, has set up a large stand down by the beach, where industry people can meet to discuss their latest projects.

Last year Swiss director Fredi Murer used the Swiss stand to find an international distributor for his film “Vitus” which was still in the making.

Following this meeting the film was then presented at the Berlin Film Festival and Murer soon managed to find buyers from several different companies, according to Schiwow.

In other words, there are definite results, even if they are not always “tangible”.

swissinfo, Alexandra Richard

The cannes festival takes place May 17-28.
The jury, which includes Monica Bellucci, Patrice Leconte, Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth, is chaired by Chinese director Wong Kar Wai.

Switzerland at Cannes Film Festival

Banquise (Icefloe), directed by Claude Barras and Cédric Louis is in the short film competition.

Hunde (Dogs), by Matthias Huser will be screened in the Cinéfondation competition, reserved for film school projects.

Several co-productions have been selected in the main sections of the festival, including Juventude em marcha (Colossal Youth) by Pedro Costa. This is in competition.

Swiss Day takes place on Tuesday, May 23 as part of the “All the cinemas of the world” programme.

Director Ursula Meier will be participating in the “Festival workshop” with her feature film Home.

Zurich producer Christof Neracher will be taking part in “Producers on the move” programme.

Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin will be also be paying an official visit.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR