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ZURICH 2017 Industry

Connect to Reality: the Zurich Film Festival reflects on the future of Swiss cinema


- 2 October saw Zurich host the second instalment of the initiative providing industry professionals with a much-needed space to talk openly about the future of Swiss cinema

Connect to Reality: the Zurich Film Festival reflects on the future of Swiss cinema
The participants in Connect to Reality (© ZFF)

“Swiss producers should be more entrepreneurial and should take greater personal responsibility for their films. Successes should be rewarded and failures penalised”: this is one message to have emerged from the second phase of the Connect to Reality project at the Zurich Film Festival. “More money and fewer films” is another key conclusion from this half-day think tank dedicated to the rather tricky subject of the future of Swiss film production.

According to those who took part – 25 key players in the Swiss film industry - there is a distinct lack of entrepreneurial spirit in how producers think and in how they go about filmmaking. Two discussion groups each put forward a solution to this issue: the first group would like to introduce a system of financial rewards and sanctions, whereby successful producers receive automatic financial support for future projects, and those who are less established do not; the second group, meanwhile, advocates making greater funds available to more experienced producers and to a restricted number of fledgling directors and producers. The aim of the new system is to put an end to the funding and production of ill-conceived projects which have very little potential for commercial success. The further introduction of a fee of 1000 Swiss francs per application has also been proposed so as to deter such projects from applying for funding in the first place.

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And finally, the attendees at this second Connect to Reality session are looking for a reform of the regional financing system, whereby regional bodies would become the first point of contact for potential funding requests. Access to national funds should only be possible after this initial, regional selection phase, and successful projects could then access a possible third round of inter-regional funding from sources such as MEDIA Desk Switzerland, the equivalent MEDIA programme, etc, if the necessary criteria are met.

What has emerged very clearly from the Zurich session is the need for Swiss cinema to develop strong and positive brand associations, and the promotion and marketing of films is central to this. “We must know the market and produce films with this market in mind”: this was the key point upon which all the attendees agreed. The third and final Connect to Reality session will take place at the Geneva International Film Festival on 7 November.

(Translated from Italian by Michelle Mathery)

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