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"A film doesn’t necessarily have to be harmonised"

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Carmen Jaquier and Lionel Rupp ­• Directors


- LOCARNO 2015: Cineuropa met up with Swiss directors Carmen Jaquier and Lionel Rupp, whose film Wonderland was competing at Locarno, made in collaboration with eight other directors

Carmen Jaquier and Lionel Rupp  ­• Directors
Carmen Jaquier (standing, at the back) and Lionel Rupp (in front, third from the left), with the other directors of Wonderland

Cineuropa met up with Swiss directors Carmen Jaquier and Lionel Rupp, who presented their shocking and intense first feature film, Wonderland [+see also:
film review
interview: Carmen Jaquier and Lionel R…
film profile
, made in collaboration with eight other directors. Wonderland is the only Swiss film to be competing for the Pardo d’oro at the 68th Locarno Film Festival. Jaquier is also showing her short film La rivière sous la langue in the Pardi di domain competition.

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Jaquier was born in 1985 in Geneva (Switzerland). Her short film Le tombeau des filles won the Reflet d’or for Best Short Film at the Festival Tous Ecrans in Geneva in 2011 and the Pardino d’argento (national competition) at the Locarno Film Festival the same year. Rupp was born in 1983 in Meyrin (Switzerland). In 2008, he co-founded Zooscope Production. In 2009, he graduated in Film Studies at the Geneva University of Art and Design. His last feature film, Quai Ouest, was shown at the Solothurn Film Festival in 2012. 

Cineuropa: Do you feel like you belong to a “new generation of Swiss filmmakers”?
Lionel Rupp: I think we can draw a parallel between Swiss cinema and Switzerland in general. I don’t really see Switzerland as a real country with thousands of years of history and a shared culture. I think it’s more of a community of interests - you could consider this film to be Swiss because it’s a real federation, each of us coming from a different place, with our own particularities. We therefore decided to use this as our point in common, all the while holding onto our own characteristics. For this project in particular, I find it interesting that we’re all young, we’re not widely known in the industry and we can put our egos to one side, to work as a unified group for the sake of the film. We question things as a group.

What are the film’s visual and aesthetic influences?
Carmen Jaquier: The idea was for it to be a film with a common aesthetic approach, in which each director could make his or her particular mark. This was quite a delicate point, because directors have strong feelings about what imagery, colours, etc should be used; however, we didn’t necessarily mix or unify our personal influences. First, we tried to create something as a group, and then each of us brought his or her own little inner kingdom.
LR: In terms of form, there were times when Jan and Michael tried to guide us in a common direction, as we were nevertheless trying to create a harmonised film. But each time, we would go off in our own directions, towards our own influences. What’s interesting in the film is that we feel these influences without them becoming too strong or getting in the way. So a film doesn’t necessarily have to be harmonised. Wonderland isn’t a “pure” film, and it works very well that way.

What does it mean to be an artist in Switzerland, in your opinion? Do you feel isolated?
CJ: Coming from Geneva, I work a lot with France, but it’s different for each linguistic region. We’re not isolated, but I also think that what an artist looks for deep down is a connection, whether that is with the country next door or with nature. The artistic milieu in Switzerland is important because it asks questions and tries to bridge the gap between different cultures. We also have to admit that Switzerland is a very rich country – we can always criticise this country and point out its weaknesses, but there are nevertheless means available to you that allow you to create. However, you have to fight to obtain these means; it’s the foundation of our society.
LR: Rationally, it’s true that Swiss citizens receive benefits that you can’t get in other countries, nor nearly as fast. On the other hand, I really want to talk about things that are going on here, and “pay my dues” to the country I come from. 

Is the subject of violence a particular fascination for you, in terms of your artistic approach?
CJ: Violence has many faces. It’s difficult not to talk about the violence that we can have inside ourselves. I find that the world I live in is very violent. As a director, I need to talk about it and express it through imagery. We’re not necessarily giving violence a platform, but the underlying feeling is nonetheless there. Violence can sometimes be very quiet.
LR: Yes, it’s something that fascinates me. How is it that someone with good intentions can end up doing something terrible? In Wonderland, I tried to intensify this violence, making it grotesque and excessive. It’s something that interested me greatly in this project.

(Translated from French)

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