Inside Encounters #2 – Let’s Swiss it up!

Ich Bin's Helmut by Nicolas Steiner

Ich Bin’s Helmut by Nicolas Steiner

The 19th edition of Encounters celebrates Switzerland through screenings and events, everyday, from Wednesday to Sunday. For this special occasion, the Parlour showrooms will be turned into a Cine-Chalet, screening a selection of Swiss short films, animations and feature documentaries. Thematic showcases will highlight the country’s hottest film and animation exports. Far from a nostalgic trip through idyllic mountain pastures, it will challenge the perceptions of Swiss national identity.

Like other small European countries, Switzerland doesn’t have a heavy film industry, as it mainly depends on State support, and so production has lagged behind other European countries. Cause or consequence, Swiss films are not widely known around the world, and the definition of a Swiss film itself seems to be blurry. Sharing three different languages, the national culture tends to blend with French, German, and Italian. However, according to statistics, documentaries seem to steal the spotlight, “in a country like Switzerland where a film industry hardly exists, [they] have set the tone for our national production since the beginning,” explained Alain Boillat, professor of history and aesthetics of cinema at Lausanne University.

Having a special focus on Switzerland during Encounters festival pays tribute to the young wave of filmmakers, forecasting a brilliant future. All over the festival, events and on-stage sessions will everyday honour not only filmmakers, but also artists, like Yves Netzhammer.

Recently finished, Yves Netzhammer’s trilogy will be highlighted from Thursday to Sunday. On Thu 19 Sept at 17.15, a conversation session will take place with Arnolfini Curator of Exhibitions Axel Wieder and Bernd Schurer, who composed the soundtrack of the films, and of course Yves Netzhammer himself, in the Dark Studio.Originally from Schaffhausen, Yves Netzhammer lives and works in Zurich. After studying architecture, he graduated from the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich, department of visual design. He has been working with video installations, slide projections, drawings and objects since 1997. Formal Conscience (2013) ends the Triptychon he started in 2011 with Dialogical Abrasion and followed in 2012 by Peripheries of Bodies. Through puppet-like figures and mixed up levels of reality, artist Netzhammer tries to analyse possible interactions between man and his environment.

Cinema students or simply curious minds of the creative process are welcome to come and meet two talented Swiss filmmakers, who will run two on-stage sessions: Marie-Elsa Sgualdo and Isabelle Favez for our Filmmaker Focus events. In competition last year with Au Coeur de l’hiver, Isabelle Favez is back as a jury member for the animation category. Keen on sharing her passion, she will introduce you to her body of work, and all the various steps that finally lead to a small masterpiece. On the same note, Marie-Elsa Sgualdo, one of Switzerland’s most hyped young filmmakers will comment on her four short movies, and give you a peak at her current work on her first feature. This award-winning director’s short films have been screened at Locarno and the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and her most recent work You Can’t Do Everything At Once, But You Can Leave Everything At Once is in competition at Encounters this year. So she’s definitely a director to keep track of!

In order to definitively shatter your clichés about Switzerland, “The chalet show! Swiss animation greats” is not to be missed, on Friday 20 September, in Arnolfini. When it comes to Swiss animation, most people think of Georges Schwizgebel. Whilst it’s true he raised the profile of Swiss animation to new heights he is just one tree out of a forest full of young and talented people – each one looking forward to emerging and discovering the world for themselves. A fine selection of fifteen animated shorts tackles topics such as social behaviours and relationships, or burning topics like immigration in Miramare, a Swiss-Croatian cooperation, directed by Michaella Müller. This unconventional look at Switzerland shows a fragile and sensitive side of nowadays’ society. Mountains and forests are still part of the background such as Gipfel-Gil and La main de l’ours (The bear’s hand), but more as a metaphor. On top of that, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur is presenting a live action short film that breaks down the conventional image of the Swiss psyche: God, you’re so square. This sentence that Iris says to Travis in Taxi Driver, enhances the dilemma that the Swiss have to cope with in their everyday lives.

This Focus on Switzerland for Encounters 19th edition, is in partnership with SWISS FILMS and Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, and supported by the Swiss Embassy, The Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain and Helvetic Airways.
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Julie Boénec