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.

VdR 2022 | The Swiss Documentary International Distribution

In partnership with SRG SSR, 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. For this new edition, we will focus on the international distribution of Swiss documentary films, questioning topics such as: How does Swiss cinema circulate abroad? How is it possible to build an international distribution strategy throughout the production process?, etc.

Sunday, April 10th – 10:30-13:30 – Usine à Gaz 1
(In French & German, with English translation), Open to all accredited professionals

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

VdR 2021 | What audience for tomorrow? The Distribution of Documentary Cinema – one year later
Please, click here to access the recording

In light of the reflections on our Documentary and Audiovisual Forum “The future of Creative Documentaries” discussed in 2019 at Visions du Réel, we imagined to explore further the subject in 2020 by addressing the issue of distribution. However, the Covid-19 sanitary crisis was a turning point, forcing us to cancel the session and disrupting our habits, in particular those related to our role as spectators. Therefore, today the question is misplaced but, at the same time, more urgent and relevant than ever.

The distribution of documentary films has always been a challenge, often requiring the development of extraordinary and bold strategies. In a time where cinemas are put under strain, theatrical releases, just like festival presentations, do not constitute the point of departure for the distribution strategy anymore. On the other hand, online viewing platforms are growing incredibly popular, both in terms of audience and in terms of their financial and political weight in society. The matter of institutions’ roles and of public proposals to support the distribution and the broadcasting of independent films becomes equally political (especially given the right holders’ remuneration is also jeopardised). As a result, how to widen the public for documentary cinema becomes one of the most important aspects to touch during the discussion.

This is why, one year after the start of the sanitary crisis that disrupted the economy of cinemas, during Visions du Réel 2021 edition in Nyon, we dedicated our Documentary and Audiovisual Forum to distribution. This way, our goal is to stimulate the proliferation and exchange of ideas and examples of both Swiss and international practices in the field.


Matthias Bürcher
Head of Operations and Diversity of the offer, OFC, CH

Susa Katz
Deputy managing director, responsible for the nonfiction department and for distribution Zürcher Filmstiftung, CH

Pierre-Adrian Irlé
Project Leader – Play Suisse, CH

Tobias Faust
Co-director, Kult.kino, my, CH

Mischa Schiwow
Distributor, Frenetic Films, CH

David Bernet
Film Director, AG DOK, DE


Barbara Miller
Director, president ARF/FDS



Michela Pini


Cinédokké Sagl

Madeline Robert

Festival / Market

Visions du Réel


Andreas Bühlmann

Film Institute / Fund


David Fonjallaz



Christian Frei

– Producer
– Film Institute / Fund

Christian Frei Filmproduktionen GmbH

Maëlle Guenegues

Distributor / Sales Agent


Vadim Jendreyko

– Producer

Mira Film

Anne Laurent-Delage

Film Institute / Fund

Austrian Films

João Matos


Terratreme Filmes

Nicola Ruffo

Film Institute / Fund


Pascal Trächslin

– Distributor / Sales Agent