Swiss docs to Munich

Swiss docs to Munich

Radio Silence by Juliana Fanjul


Documentaries from Switzerland feature at DOK.fest Munich, both in the festival line-up and within the Marketplace presentations. Swiss Docs Catherine Ann Berger also reflects on the recent online Visions du Réel.

Five Swiss documentaries are selected for DOK.fest Munich, and a further three feature in the festival’s Marketplace programme. 

In DOK.Horizonte is the 78-minute Radio Silence by Juliana Fanjul, the tale of an incorruptible Mexican journalist who was fired from the radio station where she worked for years. Supported by more than 18 million listeners, Carmen continues her fight, her goal to raise awareness and fight against misinformation. World sales are handled by Sweet Spot Docs.

Christian Labhart’s Passion – Between Revolt and Resignation (80 mins) is in DOK.Deutsch section. The film is, according to the director, is “about how I deal with the painful fact that the world today is not how I imagined it would be 50 years ago. Images of today’s world collide with fragmentary recollections, with poetic texts and with J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. An essay film about the fragility of my existence in unbridled capitalism.” Word sales: mindjazz pictures.

No Promised Land (52 mins) by Raphael Bondy will compete for DOK.Student Award. The film tells the story of four young Jewish Ethiopians facing an identity crisis as their community experiences exclusion in what they expected to be their new-found homeland in Israel. Sales are handled by Cologne-based New Docs.

In Best of Fests is Roman Droux’s 91-minute Bear-like, a film about the untamed beauty of wild bears, sold by Memox GmbH. In David Vogel’s Shalom Allah stresses how when Muslims are shown in the media, they are portrayed as the bad guys. How do you explain therefore why, every year, over a hundred Swiss people convert to Islam? The fact that the director himself is Jewish doesn’t matter – or does it…? World sales of Shalom Allah: Taskovski Films Ltd.

In the Market is Julia Furer’s Merci de votre visite (Thank You For The Visit) by Julia Furer, in which Samir and Bahija struggle with love and perspectives in a country with limited possibilities. They fight for a brighter future, but the clash of cultures troubles their whole family’s life. Produced by Franziska Sonder and Stella Händler, the 80-minute doc is  Arabic/French/English-language with English/German subtitles.

The 136-minute Parallel Lives by Frank Matter follows the stories of five people who were born – like the filmmaker – on June 8, 1964, but under entirely different circumstances. From a radical personal perspective the film asks what we have gained and lost during the last half century – how utopias, dreams, identities and the consciousness of the protagonists have changed against the backdrop of historic events. Produced by Madeleine Corbat, Peter Guyer and Frank Matter for soap factory GmbH, the documentary is Chinese/English/Swiss-German/Xhosa-language, with French/English/German subtitles. 

Meanwhile Watch Over Me by Farida Pacha tells the story of Mani, Sini and Dr. Reena, a counsellor, nurse and doctor team working for a palliative care organization in New Delhi. Their job is not an easy one because they can’t offer the one thing which patients and their families are desperately looking for – a cure. What they can offer instead is to assist the patient in accepting that dying is a normal process, a part of life. It is a Leafbird Films GmbH, Ventana Film- und Fernsehproduktion GmbH production.

All three projects will be ready for Autumn 2020.

Swiss Films managing director Catherine Ann Berger reflected on the recent Visions du Réel after her Swiss Films Previews event, that presented five upcoming documentaries to the international professional community.

She stressed how the festival team, led by Emilie Bujès placed a strong emphasis on making filmmakers “feeling somehow at home in this virtual new world.”

“The more difficult note was how do you grasp a festival when it is fractured in so many different events,” Berger asked. “It’s not like you can go in and out of a festival tent. That won’t happen, that random walking in, browsing around, bumping into people [to make arrangements]. We are missing that.” 

“We were speaking this morning as a team, all those random conversations that you have at the copy machine/coffee machine… they don’t happen, and they are important for working life. There is a kind of informal exchange which is also a form of creativity,” she added.

“On the other hand, it was really important that Visions said ‘we are going to go forwards, we’re doing this, we’re doing it online, and we are going to pull up our socks’… I think it was important also for Switzerland. Nyon is such an important festival for us as we have so many good documentaries, so that was very encouraging.”

Berger maintains that one particular benefit of online pitching lies in saving producers and filmmakers from the daunting and nerve-wracking prospect of a public presentation. 

She also points out that the doc industry has impressed with its handling of, and reaction, to lockdown. “Documentary filmmakers are concerned with the world, it’s their flesh and blood, so they want to participate in everything, they want to reflect on what is going on at the moment. ‘Where do I stand, where do my fellow colleagues stand?’ It’s [obvious] that they would want to respond to this situation.”