Swiss Films in Competition

in 56th Locarno International Film Festival

by Fred Zaugg

As one of the oldest film events, the Locarno International Filmfestival was in its 56th edition with its different sections an event building bridges to other cultures, countries and times, also of film history. It is clear as in Locarno the view of the world is more important then the view of Swiss Films. In the International Competition at the heart of the festival the Swiss Film takes a small part and is selected with the same strong conditions.

The only pure Swiss Film was in this year’s competition “Au sud des nuages” by Jean-François Amiguet. Like most other Swiss Films, it is a co-production. Often this is the only possibility to produce new films. In the case of “Au sud des nuages”, the co-production was between Switzerland and France. Born 1950 in Vevey in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Jean-François Amiguet turned a story of a small country into a very large world, large in its geographic locations from the Swiss Mountains to the mountains of China, large also as a bridge between cultures and large in its profound humanity.

The main character Adrien (Bernard Verley) lives high in the Alps on his mountain pasture. His roots are deep in this country. He is a silent man, who likes traditions, and a passionate hunter too. With four friends he will make a journey from the Swiss canton Valais where he lives to China, travelling by train. This discovery of a different culture gives him at last the possibility to discover himself and to find human relations in a far off country. Adrien, this lonely hero, is finally isolated in China and must face up to himself. Without being understood, the silent hunter for the first time speaks about his own painful life.

Words are rare in this film. Jean-François Amiguet works with eloquent images, with a dialogue between landscapes and small train carriages, between the outdoors and the indoors, presenting a closed personal biography of Adrien. “Au sud des nuages” is the fourth feature film by Amiguet after “Alexandre” (1983), “La méridienne” (1988) and “L’écrivain public” (1993). In the competition of Locarno 2003 his film was one of themost interesting works. In a time of dangerous globalisation, he shows the family of man, the humanity, the movement to other people.

In the competition 2003 there was also “Böse Zellen” (Free Radicals) by the Austrian filmmaker Barbara Albert, born 1970 in Vienna, another co-production with Swiss participation. In a sort of puzzle she treats the interderpendency in our time. She reflects on the today’s society in an network of different stories, fascinaiting and a little bit overloaded at the same time.