Swiss seek support to shine at Berlin festival

A still from Nachbeben by Swiss director Stina Werenfels (

Three Swiss films and a young star actor will be taking part in this year's Berlinale film festival, which opens in the German capital on Thursday.

This content was published on February 9, 2006 - 11:49

The festival takes place amid demands from a younger generation of Swiss film-makers for the government to step up efforts to promote Swiss films abroad.

Switzerland's excellent reputation at international film festivals has mostly come from documentaries in recent years.

But 2006 could see the renaissance of Swiss feature films, several of which are hoping to find buyers and distributors for the international market at the Berlinale.

Nachbeben (Aftershock), Lenz and Vitus will all be screened in the official programme and actor Carlos Leal is representing Switzerland in the Shooting Stars event.

The Austrian-Swiss co-production, Slumming, is one of 19 films up for the coveted Golden and Silver Bears in the international competition.

More promotion

But despite this apparent success, the younger generation of Swiss directors and actors are unhappy with the promotion efforts for Swiss films abroad.

Stina Werenfels, whose cinema debut film, Nachbeben, will be on show in the Panorama section, doesn't trust Swissfilms, Switzerland's official film promotion board, and has hired a private agency to help with her media and public relations work.

"I don't know how these big institutions, like Swissfilms, operate. But they have not been very helpful so far," Werenfels said.

"They finally put me in touch with one person who will lend me a hand. I hope it will work out."

Micha Schiwow, head of Swissfilms, has dismissed criticism that his agency was not doing enough.

He added that the SFr80,000 ($61,598) budget for the Berlin event was too small to satisfy everybody.


For his part, Leal says the Berlinale is important in helping to advance his budding career as an actor. But he says he still does most of the promotion work himself.

The former singer of the renowned rap group, Sens Unik, told swissinfo that he hoped to attract the attention of other directors, preferably from Spain or Italy.

Werenfels points out how perceptions of films can differ – a concept to be taken into account when carrying out promotion activities.

"Cinema-goers in Switzerland understood Nachbeben – a film about the fall of a rich young banker - primarily as a disturbing look behind the scenes of the business world," Werenfels said.

"A foreign audience perceives it not only as a metaphor of Switzerland, but also of the powerful impact certain aspects of neo-liberalism can have on the private life and family."

A record number of 18,000 film professionals, including buyers, sellers, producers, directors, actors and journalists are expected to attend the Berlinale screenings. The festival is showing a total of 360 films this year.

The Berlinale, one of the top three film festivals in Europe, is hoping to sell about 150,000 tickets for the ten-day event.


In brief

Nachbeben (Aftershock), the cinema film debut of director Stina Werenfels, will be screened in the Panorama section.

Thomas Imbach's Lenz is part of the Forum section, while Fredi M. Murer's Vitus (featuring Swiss actor Bruno Ganz) is in the Berlinale Special programme.

Carlos Leal, who received the 2006 Swiss Film Prize for best actor in Snow White, represents Switzerland at the Shooting Star event.

Slumming by Austrian director Michael Glawogger and co-produced by Switzerland's Dschoint Ventschr will take part in the international competition.

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Key facts

The Berlin festival takes place from February 9-19.
It features about 360 films, including 19 in the international competition where the prizes are Golden and Silver Bears.
Berlin is one of the top festival events in Europe, alongside Cannes in France and Venice in Italy.

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