The Swiss Commitment to Film

The Swiss commitment to the film industry nationally and internationally is well known. And every now and then, we shine. Be it with a legendary Bond Girl or with Swiss people working for Hollywood with great success.

We do have a number of Swiss Oscar nominees and winners, especially in the technical area. But Swiss films shown abroad are still a rare occurrence. A conversation with ZFF Artistic Director, Christian Jungen.

This year's edition of the Zurich Film Festival presented you and the ZFF team with particular challenges. There is of course Corona with its complex concepts, travel restrictions and many other associated regulations. Was it a success nonetheless?

We always believed in being capable of conducting the Festival, whilst adhering to the protection concept. We expected around a third of last year's audience, because we were only able to use 60 percent of the seating capacity, as we were required to leave free seats left and right of groups attending together. But after only two days, we had far exceeded our goal of attendance. The atmosphere was really good everywhere. Therefore, yes, the 16th Zurich Film Festival was a great success. We have relaunched cinema as a social event.

It was also your personal debut together with Elke Mayer. How great was the anticipation for this 16th edition?

Our team went the extra mile for months to make this festival possible. So in the end, the joy and relief indeed were great when we were able to open the Festival with WANDA, MEIN WUNDER by Bettina Oberli. Films on a large screen for an audience in an auditorium - that was our vision and we achieved that.

This year, 165 films and a total of 23 world premieres were presented at the Festival. This years edition showed a lot of young talents as well as a large number of female productions, but also 27 productions by Swiss filmmakers. What would be your personal favourite?

I would choose EDEN FÜR JEDEN by Rolf Lyssy, who we are awarding for his career. It is a brilliant comedy about typical local allotment gardens, mirroring the multicultural layers of Switzerland. The film is wonderfully personal, humane and amusing. No one is capable of mastering weighty topics with such brilliance and ease as Lyssy. And I am absolutely convinced that this film will become a hit in the cinema in weeks to come.

Switzerland and its people love cinema and their commitment to film is considerable. But when it comes to finance and international distribution, Swiss productions are having a difficult time. Berne is currently debating the "Lex Netflix". Is that an interesting solution?

Yes, absolutely, because it would allow the industry to make a quantum leap. Swiss Film is on the rise, as the great successes of WOLKENBRUCH, BRUNO MANSER and PLATZSPITZBABY have shown. Success at home make the possibility of international exploitation more attractive of course. Alain Berset's proposal would bring additional and much needed funds into the production process and help Swiss Film to be recognised and seen, since money is often lacking for a good promotion campaign.

The film industry is becoming increasingly digital. Walt Disney, for instance, has a research site in Zurich, located near the University of Technical Engineering (ETH) with access to many new talents at their doorstep - how do you see the future of Swiss Film develop in the near future and what conditions need to be improved to ensure success?

We now have good films that are being produced in this country. And because we are experiencing an era of de-globalisation, resulting in an increasing tendency to retreat into one's own sphere, it is all the more important for our filmmakers to establish themselves in good international networks. The industry conference Zurich Summit at the Dolder Grand for example, attended by high end representatives of the European and American film industry, offered some great opportunities for networking and getting to know each other. Because the film business is a people's business and personal contacts are crucial.

Fotocredits ©Gabriel Hill for Zurich Film Festival

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