What's a TV Movie?

in 9th Geneva International Film Festival

by Beat Glur

Foreigners may consider Geneva the capital of Switzerland, but it isn’t. Geneva is undoubtedly the most important city of the French speaking Switzerland and after Zurich the second biggest city. In Geneva you find two governments (city and canton), industries (watches, jewelry), international institutions (European seat of the UN, seat of the International Red Cross), a big university. Geneva is also a melting pot for culture. From the Opera House to the Usine (Factory) it offers a wide range of culture, traditional as well as alternative.

No other Swiss town offers as many festivals, especially film festivals. The day before the TV movie festival “Cinéma tout écran” (November 3 to 9) started, the gay and lesbian film festival “Regard’autre” (The Other Look) ended. Not one of the Geneva festivals has international or even national importance, but five years after the festival “Stars de demain” (Stars of Tomorrow) disappeared, “Cinéma tout écran” became the most important film festival.

Léo Kaneman who founded “Cinéma tout écran” nine years ago, is a well-known figure in the Geneva cinema: He is a filmmaker himself and he runs the local cinema institution “Fonction Cinéma” along with the Human Rights Film Festival.

“Cinéma tout écran” tries to convince everyone that TV movies should be seen on the big screen. The festival offered an official competition (13 films), a series competition (16 films), a Swiss competition (7 films), a short film competition (49 films). The retrospective presented four TV movies by John Frankenheimer. A few films will be theatrically released in Switzerland after the festival. With few exceptions, all the films have had a career in other festivals or have been released in theaters or on TV.

What’s a TV Movie?

The main problem of the festival lies in its definition as a festival for TV movies. What is a TV movie? A film made by or for television, says Kaneman – but does not almost every European film fit this definition? A film that is on offer in a TV market, adds Kaneman – but does not almost every European film end up being sold to TV networks around the world?

According to its regulations the festival can show every film it wishes. In this-year’s official competition there were TV movies like the German “Befreite Zone” (Liberated Zone) and the Swiss “La diga” (The Dam), both screened on Beta, along with the Croatian cinema production “Fine Dead Girls” shown in film festivals around the world during the last two years.

There was a little confusion concerning the film “Cadets de Gascogne” by Emmanuel Bourdieu elected the best film of the competition by the FIPRESCI Jury because it was shown to the public in a differently edited version: ten minutes longer with the new title “Paradis Vert” (Green Paradise) and introducing a new supporting actor.