"Making a film together"
by Mathieu Loewer
- Debut fiction produced by Christian Davi and Christof Neracher, Vitus by Fredi M. Murer, is currently a hit on Swiss screens
In 2002, director-producer Christian Davi co-founded the company Hugofilm which – until Vitus [+see also:
interview: Christian Davi
interview: Fredi M. Murer
film profile] – had specialised in documentary films. It was with Vitusfilm that he produced his new fiction with Christof Neracher (Swiss Producer on the Move 2006 - see interview) and renowned Swiss director Fredi M. Murer. A challenge successfully met, with the film picking up an award at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival and being sold to several territories.
How did the production of Vitus come about?
Christian Davi: I met Fredi M. Murer when I worked with him on Downtown Switzerland, a documentary produced in a very rock’n’roll style. The film was made without financing and involved four directors-producers. When working together on the film’s preparation, we got on very well together. Shortly after, he separated from his producer because they didn’t succeed in getting a European co-producer for Vitus. He explained that he now wanted to build "a chapel instead of a cathedral". We wanted to ask him to finance Vitus in Switzerland by working together with a company created for the film, Vitusfilm. We wanted to make a film "together", for everyone to be involved in the project outside of their own area. That is the way I’ve always worked when making documentaries and I have seen that it was possible to do the same with a fiction. I also think that Fredi M. Murer wanted to instil in the film the same energy as he did in Downtown Switzerland. I always liked the idea of collaboration between different generations. This is a concept that wins the Nobel Prize, so why not give it a try in culture?
Can you tell us about your company Hugofilm?
At the outset, it was an artists’ workshop, but by making films for the national exposition in 2002, we realised that the best solution to develop our activities was to create a production company. We started out in documentaries – our own projects but also those from other filmmakers and often debut films. Once we succeeded in successfully managing all our projects, we decided to get involved in fiction with Vitus, which was a fantastic experience, full of necessary and constructive conflicts!
Vitus was released in German-speaking Switzerland, where to date it has recorded attendance figures of 160,000. Will it be distributed in other countries?
The film has been on release in German-speaking Switzerland for over sixteen weeks now. Word-to-mouth works very well. At the Berlin Film Festival, the film was presented in official selection out of competition and at the market, where it was sold internationally, like no Swiss film has been in the past fifteen years! The film found buyers in France, Germany, Spain, the Nordic countries and the East, but also in Israel, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan. Bruno Ganz in the line-up has certainly helped us a lot. Next January Vitus will have same-day releases in France, Germany and French-speaking Switzerland.
Rolf Lyssy, the most successful Swiss director of all times (Die Schweizermacher, 1978) made a making of that was released at the same time. Why this rather unusual initiative?
Rolf Lyssy came to see us with the intention of making more than one making of: a real documentary that would also be a portrait of Fredi M. Murer, as well as a homage. They have known each other for a long time, have often worked together and are friends. We were therefore thrilled with the idea of being able to offer on DVD – and television – a genuine quality bonus that it is not limited to promotion.