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Eastern Swiss Alps setting for new road movie

The Piz Aela, above the Maloja Pass.

(Switzerland Tourism)

The rugged terrain of the Maloja Pass in Graubünden is the setting for a Swiss version of Easy Rider.

"We would be interested in having visitors help us, we need some people to act, some to use the camera, and some to help with the text..." Marianne says laughing. "They could even come up with a car, we need a red car for the movie!"

"The movie will be called 'Alpenrally', or 'Road Movie in the Alps', we're still not quite sure," says Luca, adding: "It's a road movie with people driving over mountain passes... it's a low-budget, experimental movie."

Marianne, Luca and another artist, Regula, have won a SFr6,000 scholarship from the Swiss branch of the Youth Hostel Association. For its 75th anniversary, the association is awarding four scholarships a year to an artist, or group of artists, seeking inspiration in the Engadine.

An old barn attached to Maloja's youth hostel has been converted into an atelier, in an effort to bring the general public into contact with the young artists.

Marianne Luca and Regula were studying at the Nairs art college in the town of Scuol in the Engadine, when they saw the Youth Hostel's advertisement.

The project is out of the ordinary, according to Marianne: "For instance, we show a scene with a person at the top of a mountain. But you only later hear the text that goes with the pictures."

At the same time, each of the three is working on his, or her, own personal project, for which they all find great inspiration in the mountain setting of the atelier.

"The Engadine is very inspiring - it's so windy, the weather changes so much," says Marianne, who is writing her first novel entitled 'Dust'. It's about an academic who grows up in the mountains and whose books ultimately turn to dust and suffocate her.

"In the morning it's sunny, and then in the afternoon all of a sudden there's a thunderstorm brewing. It's really wild!" she says as she looks out of the atelier at the sheer expanse of rock that faces the spacious converted barn.

Regula is a specialist in films about mountains: "I make short artistic films about minimal landscapes and the weather. They are a halfway house between documentaries and research films."

Luca is a playwright whose work is admittedly experimental: "The play is set in a plastic shaker, you know, the kind in which snowflakes swirl around. It features a castle and the protagonists live in the mountains, that's why it's good for me to live and write up here."

Despite the average person's relatively strong interest in the arts, contact with artists or writers is generally rare. Marianne believes the concept of bringing together artists and young people that happen to be travelling through Maloja has enormous potential, and is eager for any of the visitors staying at the hostel to join in the film-making project.

Downstairs, in the youth hostel kitchen, preparations are underway for the evening meal. Nicolas is frying up a large pan of Rösti, a traditional Swiss-German dish of fried potatoes, and is seemingly keen to find out more about the movie project: " I knew there were artists here, but I haven't met them. Perhaps I will go and join their filming tomorrow!"

Others, like Miro, are less enthusiastic: "No, I haven't met them, I don't know whether I would really want to see what they're doing," he says, displaying a far greater interest in what is on the stove - than in who might be whipping up a highly creative Swiss version of 'Easy Rider' on the floor above.

by Juliet Linley


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