Swiss production and co-production is on the rise, partly managed by federal and regional funds that offer attractive opportunities for domestic and international filmmakers.
With a rapid recovery from the effects of the epidemic, the local film industry has reached another strong year through international film and international co-production.
Ellie Grapp’s Swiss-Ukrainian-French title “Olga” premiered this year at Directors Fortnight in Cannes, while Lorenzo Marge’s “Soul of a Beast” and Swiss-international co-productions such as Stefan Jogger and Monte Vera were unpublished in Locarno. Laurent Geslin’s nature documentary “Lynx.” Venice saw Swiss co-productions such as Italian helmer Leonardo de Costanzo’s “Ariapharma” and Bolivian director Kiro Rousseau’s “El Gran Movimento”. And the opening of this year’s Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) was Michael Steiner’s Swiss-German Taliban thriller “And Tomorrow We Will Die.”
ZFF director Christian Jungen noted that the rise of Swiss cinema is not a small part of Zurich. ZFF and local fundraiser Zürcher Filmstiftung (Zurich Film Fund) once again showcased the city’s vibrant film sector – Switzerland’s main industrial center – with their annual Zurich Film Strolls and Zurich Film Night at this year’s event.
The Zurich Film Fund is one of the largest funds in Switzerland, offering a total of CHF 86 million ($ 92.4 million) in public film funds. Federal and regional sources include the Federal Office of Culture (FOC), Sinform, Swiss publisher SRG SSR and other local boards.
The biggest contributor to the feature film is FOC, a combined annual budget of CHF 28.5 million ($ 30.6 million) for various programs. The Film Investment Refund Switzerland (PICS) scheme, for example, allocates CHF 6 million (6.45 million) for Swiss-international co-production, reimbursing 20% to 40% of the cost of eligible film production produced in Switzerland.
With an annual budget of CHF 12 million ($ 12.9 million), the Zurich Film Fund is the largest regional fund in the country, focusing on the Canton of Zurich and especially its capital. Supported co-producers will have to spend 150% of their funds in this area.
CINéforom, the second largest regional fund with CHF 10 million (10.7 million), covers the entire French-speaking part of Switzerland; Grants will have to be spent entirely in this area.
Although Pubcaster SRG is the single largest source of funding in the country, with an annual commitment of CHF 32.5 million ($ 34.9 million) for the period 2020-2023, that sum draws CHF 9 million ($ 9.7 million) a year for animated films and CHF. 1 million (1.07). In contrast, publishers support TV production with CHF 19 million (20.4 million).
Recent international co-productions that have benefited from Swiss funding include the family drama “Beyond the Horizon” by Delphine Leherisi; Milo Ra’s political drama “The New Gospel”; Samir’s Iraqi immigrant story “Baghdad in My Shadow”; Blaise Harrison’s teenage drama “Particles”; And Stephen Haup’s historical film “The Reformer.” Zwingli – a portrait of life.
Films currently working on or producing projects have also secured Swiss funding:
- Samir’s “Stranger in a Village,” a semi-fictional tale of racism told by James Baldwin in the 1951 Alpine resort town of Lucarabad that led to his essay of the same title, and Warner Schweizer’s “Folkigar and Die Suche Nach Wahrhite,” both based on Samir’s Built, which specializes in international co-production;
- Margaret von Trotter’s “Bachman and Frisch”, Inziberg Bachmann, about the fierce Austrian writer and poet, her life in Berlin, Zurich and Rome, and her relationship with the writer Max Frisch;
- Nicholas Steiner’s “The Flying Mountain”, based on the novel by Christoph Ronsmeyer, two brothers who traveled from Ireland to Tibet, where they set out in search of an unnamed and unfamiliar mountain;
- Jagger’s “White Summer,” which centers on the relationship between a hitman and a seriously ill child on a trip from southern Italy to Switzerland;
- Cosima Frei’s “5 Euros”, about an unmarried, retired man who falls in love with a young Afghan refugee when he was buying sex;
- In Lehrerisi’s comedy-drama “Last Dance”, an elderly widow is forced to deal with her extra protection family and a secret deal with her late wife.