– Victors at the most recent edition of the gathering include movies by Lisa Gerig and Luka Popadić, and Basil Da Cunha’s short film 2720
(left-right) Producers Eva Vitija and Maurizius Staerkle Drux, and director Lisa Gerig with their awards for The Hearing, alongside jury members Miriam Stein, Mariann Lewinsky and Jacques Dubochet (© Module+)
The 59th Solothurn Film Festival has wrapped after seven intense days in which audience and filmmakers were able to come together to savour the best of Swiss cinema. In terms of the victors, the prestigious Prix de Soleure – the most highly endowed film prize in Switzerland (60,000 francs, awarded in equal measure to a film’s director/s and producer/s) – was awarded to Lisa Gerig’s documentary The Hearing [+see also:
film profile]. In her first feature-length documentary, the Vaudois-born director follows four failed asylum seekers as they relive, through the medium of film, their interviews with (real) civil servants from the Federal Office for Migration. Without false modesty, the film courageously unveils the inner workings of these interviews which the four protagonists were obliged to undergo. The jury – composed of actress Miriam Stein, film historian and co-director of the Bologna-based Cinema Ritrovato programme Mariann Lewinsky and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner Jacques Dubochet – were blown away by the film’s force and honesty, describing it as “a dramatic work where deeply moving destinies are slowly unveiled by way of things left unsaid and fragmentary statements”. Lisa Gerig has, in fact, accomplished a real feat: portraying characters who have been buffeted by life without morosity, instead helping them to regain their strength and dignity by depicting their interviews.
The Audience Award, meanwhile, consisting of 20,000 francs, was awarded to the Swiss director of Serbian origin Luka Popadić for his debut feature film My Swiss Army [+see also:
film profile]. In his shattering and poignant documentary, the filmmaker who is himself an officer in the Swiss army, reveals the army from the viewpoint of four “insiders”: Saâd, Thuruban, Andrija and Luka himself – Swiss officers of Serbian, Sri Lankan and Tunisian origin respectively.
Last but not least, in terms of the short and animated films bagging themselves trophies, the prize for Best Short Film, endowed with CHF 10,000, was awarded to 2720 by Swiss-Portuguese director Basil Da Cunha who made his name with his feature films O fim do mundo [+see also:
interview: Basil Da Cunha
film profile] and Manga d’terra [+see also:
interview: Basil Da Cunha
film profile], both of which were selected in Locarno. 2720 revolves around a seven-year-old girl in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Lisbon who’s trying to find her older brother who disappeared in the wake of a brutal police raid in the area. In this sense, Lisbon once again finds itself central to the story, a welcoming yet simultaneously hostile setting where the film’s characters try to find their place and regain their dignity. The movie Crevette, meanwhile, by Elina Huber, Noémi Knobil, Jill Vágner and Sven Bachmann, walked away with the trophy for Best Animated Film.
The full list of awards is as follows:
Best Short Film
2720 – Basil Da Cunha (Switzerland/Portugal)
Best Animated Film
Crevette – Elina Huber, Noémi Knobil, Jill Vágner and Sven Bachmann (Switzerland) (short film)
(Translated from French)