March 21, 2023


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Swiss helmer Michael Koch confronts nature in ‘A Piece of the Sky’

3 min read

For his fancy feature, “One Piece in the Sky” director Michael Koch delved deep into the Swiss Alps to unravel the threads of a memorable story that has plagued him for years. A story of love and violent emotion seemed almost impossible to accept as a face value unless confronted with the power and glory of nature in the rugged, mountainous region. “In this landscape you feel like there’s something bigger that you can’t control,” he said.

Based on a real-life event, “A Piece of the Sky” is the story of Anna and Marco, who fall in love in a small alpine village. Within a very short time of their marriage, Marco was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and gradually lost the ability to control his tendencies. But when he became violent and even accused Anna of sexually abusing his daughter, he decided to honor his last wish and stay with her until his death.

The coach faced the first impossible story on the radio a few years ago. It remained with the Swiss native when he moved to Cologne, where he studied film and made his first feature “Marija” which had its world premiere in Lucarno in 2016. Cutting teeth in Cologne helped prepare him for a second film that required physically and mentally demanding work to immerse himself in the forbidden landscape of the Alps. “I thought I needed to be more experienced as a director to handle this project,” he said.

The coach spent months with real-life Anna, finally finding her in a small mountain village and hearing her story. The coach said, “I really felt it was her inner peace and her relationship with nature that allowed her to react differently to her husband’s illness than I expected.”

His encounter with her was “just a starting point” The director embarked on a period of intensive research, befriending countless villagers, and delving deeply into the culture and traditions of the region to write his script. “I really try to be specific and make this local environment bigger [story], “He said. The coach also chose to cast non-professional actors from the region, finally spending three years giving him a chance to gain their confidence.

“I had a documentary of this approach with my first film,” the coach said Wednesday during an online presentation of upcoming projects by Swiss Films and the new Swiss Voice hosted by Torino FilmLab. I gave more space for what I got. All the stories, places and people I met during the ‘One Piece of the Sky’ study became really important. This is something that is really the backbone of the story.

The characters of the villagers were transformed by the dramatic landscape around them. They lived a hard life in the constant presence of death and the coach said their stories had a “great impact” on him.

“In the end, nature has a lot more energy than you, and you are so small. This experience was really important, ”he said. “You feel right with it because you just feel like it’s not in your hands. Nature is much stronger, and you are a man who is trying his best. “

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