Documentary & Audiovisual Forum

The Documentary & Audiovisual Forum is an annual event that allows the Swiss film industry to get together and exchange opinions on important and pressing issues, within the international context offered by VdR–Industry.

In partnership with SRG SSR and ARF/FDS.

The Documentary & Audiovisual Forum, which will be held on Sunday 14 April at the opening of the Industry days, is primarily intended for Swiss professionals. Think tank and discussion ground for the national industry, the Forum invites the sector in all the country’s linguistic regions to come together and exchange views in a setting that is conducive to reflection and the emergence of new ideas.

The 2023 edition of the Forum proposed to go back to basics: to take stock of the state of production of artistically ambitious works, and to look more specifically at the development phase, so crucial for any cinematographic work, as well as to coproduction opportunities. In these times when artistic freedom is being challenged, in particular in regard to films that aim to explore different formats, languages, processes, etc., how is it possible to imagine funding and producing projects that lay beyond definitions and boxes? In these times when the Internet is becoming increasingly and relentlessly important and powerful, where can the inventiveness and diversity of the writings and formal proposals of documentary film emerge? Are public funds or TV channels still the first allies? We will also consider how coproduction might offer some strategic alternatives, both to finance films that are struggling to be funded by public players in Switzerland, and to support foreign productions as minority coproducers.

Guests 2023: Fabrice Aragno (Casa Azul Films), Joëlle Bertossa (Close Up Films), Susa Katz (Zürcher Filmstiftung), Peter Mettler (director), Patrizia Pesko (Office Fédéral de la culture OFC, Section Cinéma), Elena Tatti (Box Productions) and Sven Wälti (SRG SSR).

Moderated by Michela Pini (Cinédokké).

VdR 2022 | Swiss Documentary Film and its International Distribution: How to Increase the Exposure of Our Films?
Michela Pini, Cinédokké, Producer
Madeline Robert, Visions du Réel, Head of Industry

In 2021, the main international festivals once again prominently featured Swiss documentary film: Taming the Garden by Salomé Jashi, produced by Mira Films, premiered among the titles of Sundance’s very selective international documentary competition and has since been nominated for the European Film Award for Best Documentary (EFA); Ostrov – Lost Island by Svetlana Rodina & Laurent Stoop won Best International Documentary at Hot Docs after its launch at Visions du Réel; and A Thousand Fires by Saeed Taji Farouky, co-produced in Switzerland by Akka Films, premiered at Locarno before joining the international competition at IDFA. In 2020, the success of Das Neue Evangelium by Milo Rau or Nemesis by Thomas Imbach was worth mentioning.

This proves that the Swiss industry is at the forefront of the international documentary film market and that the export of majority or minority productions alike provides real added value for the distribution of Swiss work.

But how do film producers work on this aspect throughout the whole film process? How should we approach matters of international distribution? What image does Swiss film convey abroad? After questioning the place of independent film and its national distribution in 2021, while the “Netflix law” highlights the need to protect independent Swiss filmmaking, it seems essential to us to widen the question.

1. Overview
How is Swiss film seen abroad? How is it disseminated? What tools have been put in place to promote it internationally? We will address these questions with the new management of SWISS FILMS, after a brief presentation of the current position of Swiss film abroad. We will also invite Anne Laurent, responsible for promoting Austrian film, to react to this presentation and to take an objective look at these facts and figures.

Andreas Bühlmann, SWISS FILMS, Head of Festivals & Markets, CH
Nicola Ruffo, SWISS FILMS, Director, CH
Anne Laurent-Delage, Austrian Film Commission, Executive Director, AT

2. Is co-production a lever for preparing distribution?
The international distribution of films is prepared well in advance, from the first idea, and in conjunction with the consideration of the film’s audience. It is also considered throughout the funding process and, in particular, in correlation with the implementation of international co-productions. So, what is the best approach to co-production in this respect as a factor contributing to the exportation of Swiss film?

David Fonjallaz, Lomotion, Producer, CH
Sarah Born, Catpics, Producer, CH
João Matos Terratreme Filmes, Producer, PT

3. How to work with sales agents?
International sales agents are the main alleys in crafting and implementing a global strategy for international distribution. In this panel, we will explore the many ways to build a working relationship in order to maximise film distribution.

Pascal Trächslin, Cineworx filmproduktion, Producer & Distributor, CH
Christian Frei, Christian Frei Filmproduktion, Producer & Director, CH
Maëlle Guenegues, CAT&Docs, Sales Agent, FR

4. Case studies
Taming the Garden by Salomé Jashi was one of the Swiss successes of the year in 2021 at an international level. Looking at the unique case of this majority-Swiss co-production, directed by a Georgian filmmaker, provides an opportunity to highlight the singularity of Swiss film exportation.

Vadim Jendreyko, Mira Film, Producer & Director


Moderators 2022

Michela Pini, Cinédokké Sagl, Producer, Switzerland
Madeline Robert, Visions du Réel, Festival / Market, Switzerland

Speakers 2022

Andreas Bühlmann, SWISS FILMS, Film Institute / Fund, Switzerland
David Fonjallaz, Lomotion, Producer, Switzerland
Christian Frei, Filmproduktionen GmbH, Filmmaker – Producer – Film Institute / Fund, Switzerland
Maëlle Guenegues, CAT&Docs, Distributor / Sales Agent, France
Vadim Jendreyko, Mira Film, Filmmaker – Producer, Switzerland
Anne Laurent-Delage, Austrian Films, Film Institute / Fund, Austria
João Matos, Terratreme Filmes, Producer, Portugal
Nicola Ruffo, SWISS FILMS, Film Institute / Fund, Switzerland
Pascal Trächslin, Cineworx, Producer – Distributor / Sales Agent, Switzerland

VdR 2021 | What audience for tomorrow? The Distribution of Documentary Cinema – one year later
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