“Cannes 2022 with four Swiss world premieres.” Last April, the promotion agency Swiss Films published a press release to welcome the strong Swiss presence on the Croisette during the 75th Cannes Film Festival, which takes place this year from May 17 to 28, thus resuming its spring slot after a cancellation in 2020 and a postponement to July last year.
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Among these four world premieres, a feat for a country the size of Switzerland, three co-productions from French-speaking Switzerland: Continental Drift (to the south) Vaudois Lionel Baier, El agua of the Spaniard from Geneva Elena Lopez Riera and De humani corporis fabrica by the duo of French documentarians Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. These three feature films were selected by the Directors’ Fortnight, a highly visible parallel section dedicated to the best of auteur cinema. For his part, Zurich’s Jan Gassmann will defend 99 Moons at ACID, a more alternative section devoted to independent cinema.
Basic work of a dynamic sector
We could also add to these “official co-productions” three other titles financed in smaller proportions by Geneva companies: under the figs by the Tunisian Erige Sehiri, still in the Directors’ Fortnight, Triangle of Sadness by Swede Ruben Östlund and Tchaikovsky’s Wife by the Russian Kirill Serebrennikov in the official competition, the one on which all eyes are turned, with the grail in sight that the Palme d’or represents for directors, producers and distributors.
This Swiss visibility in a festival which remains the most important in the world is not a consecration, but quite simply the logical result of the substantive work of a sector which, from art schools to numerous production structures, having understood that a wait-and-see policy is not a solution, is more dynamic than ever. Already last year, Elie Grappe, a former ECAL student, presented at Cannes Olgaa unanimously acclaimed film which still enjoys great exposure today since its backdrop is the Ukrainian revolution of the years 2013-2014.
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As the Swiss vote this weekend on the cinema law, it is important to remember that the national box office is not an acceptable criterion for judging the quality or otherwise of a film, and more generally of the Swiss cinema, as some opponents think. Welcoming the selection of majority Swiss co-productions in the major festivals of Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno is a much more valid argument. Because at a time when the traditional circuit of cinemas is facing an erosion of its attendance, that of festivals remains a haven of cinephilia, with substantial audiences. Seeing our cinema there is delightful, let’s be proud of it.