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Seraina Rohrer • Director, Solothurn Film Festival

“I see my role as someone who presents Swiss films and gives them greater visibility”


- Seraina Rohrer, director of the Solothurn Film Festival, reveals the secrets that make Solothurn a key meeting place for both the Swiss and the European film industries

Seraina Rohrer  • Director, Solothurn Film Festival

Seraina Rohrer, who has been the director of the Solothurn Film Festival since 2011, chatted to Cineuropa and revealed the secrets that make Solothurn a key meeting place for both the Swiss and European film industries. The 51st edition aims to have an open attitude to Europe and an ongoing interest in exchanging and sharing.

Cineuropa: Could you tell us about the programme, briefly? What are the novelties compared to previous years?
Seraina Rohrer:
As is the case every year, the Solothurn Film Festival showcases Swiss films. After celebrating the 50th anniversary last year, we talked a lot and decided that for the coming years our aim had to be to forge more links with Europe, especially compared to the current situation – I’m thinking particularly about Media cutting its support. Our wish is really that of reintegrating ourselves into European cinema. The new section called Beyond Borders was created to support this goal. We decided to invite programmers from various major festivals around the world to Solothurn to present a real showstopper from their programme. For this new edition, we also want to highlight the work of actors and actresses. In the Focus programme, we have invited different European casting directors who often work with Swiss actors and actresses. The other thing that we want to stress is the importance of passing on the baton, and that’s why we have set up a new project called Upcoming Lab. Film students who have finished their studies have been able to sign up with a project that they would like to subsequently develop. The idea is once again one of fostering this networking that is so important for Swiss cinema. Now, as for the Solothurn Award competition, this year we once again have some very strong documentaries that reflect on our society but that are also very interesting aesthetically speaking. Democracy [+see also:
film review
interview: David Bernet
film profile
by David Bernet particularly springs to mind. Swiss documentary films are still our strong point and constitute the bulk of this edition of the Solothurn Awards competition.

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What is the current relationship between Swiss movies and the European film industry?
If you look at the figures from previous years, you notice straight away that the most successful Swiss films were co-productions (either majority or minority ones). Youth [+see also:
film review
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile
by Paolo Sorrentino is a perfect example of a successful minority co-production, where a true joint effort was set up between the partners. What is very positive is that this year, in July, the new incentive schemes will enter into force, and Switzerland will be bolstered with a new type of support. The position of Swiss co-producers will therefore be strengthened. We’re moving in totally the right direction. On the other hand, Switzerland’s exclusion from the Media Programme is causing us major problems, especially on the distribution level. We’re feeling the effects of the European distributors’ fears. The problem persists at the level of the festivals that are part of the Media Programme, and it becomes extremely difficult for a Swiss film to be selected. That means that distribution at the festival level, but especially at the theatrical level (exhibition), will probably decrease. For arthouse films, and I’m particularly talking about documentaries, which survive thanks to their success, thanks to their artistic promotion, that becomes exceedingly complicated.

How are you approaching this upcoming edition after five years at the helm of the festival? What has changed compared to when you first started?
After five years, I have acquired more experience. Last year, we celebrated the Solothurn Film Festival’s 50th anniversary, and now I want to look ahead and see what the future could bring. I also think that my vision of the festival has changed somewhat. I have realised that what is truly really important are the encounters and meetings: those of the professionals and the public. We are also working closely with Swiss Films - I’m thinking particularly about the programming of the Swiss Panorama section at Locarno. I see my role a bit like that of a translator of Swiss cinema, someone who presents Swiss films and gives them greater visibility.

(Translated from French)

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