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Over 50 Swiss and US films at swiss ameican fest

The SWISS AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL (SwissAm) proudly returns to New York for seven days of screenings, seminars and parties bringing together American and Swiss Independent filmmakers with a selection of 30 Swiss and 24 US films.

In addition to screenings in three categories (Focus, Panorama, Shorts), SwissAm will present a retrospective of the work of renowned Swiss essay filmmaker Peter Liechti. SIGNERS KOFFER (1995), LUCKY JACK (2003) and NAMIBIA CROSSINGS (2004) will be shown in New York for the first time.

The Swiss American Film Festival fills a natural need for both Swiss and American independent filmmakers according to SwissAm Founder and executive producer Nicolas Rossier. “Being of Swiss descent and a filmmaker myself, I always dreamt of bridging the two communities. Our festival really responds to a need in both communities to showcase their work in the capital of independent filmmaking. With a 100% increase in the number of submissions and an impressive quality of work, we are really excited about this second edition.”

The festival opens on Friday, Nov. 5th with a free all-day seminar about distribution, production and shooting in Switzerland, followed by a kick-off party on Saturday, Nov. 6th at the newly renovated Tribeca Cinema, and a week of screenings through Thursday, Nov. 11th at Quad Cinema and Anthology Film Archives.

The Swiss Focus section includes: ÄSSHÄK - TALES FROM THE SAHARA by Ulrike Koch, the eagerly awaited second feature from the director of SALTMEN OF TIBET, exploring the lives of desert Tuareg nomads with natural intimacy and breath-taking imagery. ON DIRAIT LE SUD (BACK FOR MORE) winner of 2003 Swiss Film Prize by Vincent Pluss, tells the story of a recently divorced father who sets out to win over his ex-wife and kids by unexpectedly dropping in on them in the south of France. Returning to SwissAm is Ursula Meier (TOUS A TABLE and PAS LES FLICS, PAS LES NOIRS, PAS LES BLANCS screened at SwissAm 2003) with STRONG SHOULDERS, a “dazzling and minimalist film” (New York Times) relating the story of an obsessive high school athlete (Louise Szpindel) who wreaks havoc for herself, her school mates and her family with her drive to be the best. HILDE’S JOURNEY by Christof Vorster, an emotionally involving gay road movie about two ex-lovers of a recently deceased man, Hilde, taking a trip to scatter his ashes and carry out his last wish. ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS - FACING DEATH by Stefan Haupt, a biography of Kübler-Ross, arguably the world's most famous expert on the process of dying. With her full collaboration, Haupt's film looks back on her life and career, from her earliest days as a triplet in 1920s Zurich, to her fame as an international lecturer and writer based in the US.

The Swiss Panorama section includes TARIFA TRAFFIC by Joakim Demmer (produced by the award-winning filmmaker Samir) reporting on the illegal African immigrants who try to cross the straits between Morocco and Spain each year. CHARLIE CHAPLIN - THE FORGOTTEN YEARS by Felice Zenoni, presenting the little known story of Chaplin’s life in Switzerland after being exiled from the US during the McCarthy years. The film interweaves charming home movies and archive footage with anecdotes by those close to him providing a unique glimpse of the star as a private family man. Featuring Geraldine Chaplin, famous film producer Arthur Cohn, Peter Ustinov, Petula Clark and Liselotte Pulver.

In the US Focus section we are proud to premiere MOJADOS: THROUGH THE NIGHT by Tommy Davis. The director accompanies four Mexican men as they cross the Rio Grande and undertake the dangerous four day walk across the deserts of Texas to evade the US Border Patrol, facing dehydration, hypothermia and hunger. A timely and disturbing subject treated very originally (Audience Award, SXSW 2004). THE WATERSHED is an autobiographical documentary, in which filmmaker Mary Trunk recounts how she and her seven siblings survived the trauma of losing both parents to alcoholism and divorce. THE WATERSHED stands far above most personal documentaries in the specificity with which it examines the past and its force on the present. 12 is the first feature film by renowned commercial director Larry Bridges (praised by Stanley Kubrick for his Michelob commercials). Shot over a decade in Los Angeles, the film includes footage of real fires, earthquakes and riots, as well as collaborative work of actors Alison Elliott, Allen Lulu and Tony Griffin. The film depicts LA in the hands of the 12 Olympic Gods, living off the coast in the Channel Islands. Narratively fractured and visually stunning, 12 offers a rare experience in American film going.
The Shorts section will include 17 US shorts and 13 Swiss shorts, screened in 6 programs. We are proud to present the New York premiere of EXIT 8A by Margaret Harris (included in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 Faces to Watch”), a taut, harrowing story of an unstable skinhead who explodes after learning that his immigrant girlfriend is pregnant; the witty GRETCHEN AND THE NIGHT DANGER by Steve Collins (winner at SXSW 2004), PAPER ROUTE by legendary photographer Robert Frank, in which the director follows his newspaper delivery man on a cold winter day in an isolated Nova Scotia town and winner of 2004 Berlin Today Award BERLIN BACKSTAGE by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, featuring conductor Simon Rattle.
The festival will take place in three venues:
Quad Cinema - 34 West 13th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenue
Anthology Film Archives - 32 2nd Avenue, at 2nd Street
Tribeca Cinema - 54 Varick, below Canal at Laight

For a complete program visit www.swisscinema.org/programs.html


FESTIVAL’S MAIN PARTIES & EVENTS

Nov. 5th - Film Production and Distribution Seminar
This free seminar will take place at the Quad Cinema on Friday, Nov. 5th (1pm - 7pm) and will involve leading industry professionals and institutions to discuss the business of US-Swiss co-productions, shooting in Switzerland and the world-wide success of Swiss documentaries. The following participants are confirmed as of today: Film Society of Lincoln Center, IFP New York, Christa Saredi World Sales, SWISS FILMS, Film Location/Locarno International Film Festival/TPC International/SRG SSR idée suisse, AIVF New York, Swiss Institute, First Run Features, Swiss Effects, Lasalle & Holland, Swiss National TV, Reel Round Table, Film in The City and many more. For RSVP and information contact David Barker at dbarker@swisscinema.org.

Nov. 6th - SwissAm Kick Off Party honoring the Locarno International Film Festival will take place at the Tribeca Cinema (54 Varick, below Canal at Laight) starting at 10pm. Previous Locarno selections will screen from 8pm. The whole spectrum of the entertainment industry in New York is expected to attend. Music by “The Unemployed” and DJ Sugar Ray from the DJ Scratch Academy will make it an unforgettable party.

Nov. 10th - Experimental Program at Anthology Film Archives co-presented with SI Swiss Institute – Contemporary Art. 7 pm – 10 pm.
This program curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, artistic director of the SI will survey contemporary video artists such as Olaf Breuning, Fischli and Weiss, Sylvie Fleury, Pipilotti Rist and present works ranging from pseudo-reportages to experimental video.

Nov. 11th - Closing Night Party will be held at the SI Swiss Institute – Contemporary Art (495 Broadway, 3rd floor) starting at 9pm with a special projection at 11pm of LIFEVESTUNDERYOURSEAT.


SWISS AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL 2004 - LINE UP


Swiss Focus

Ässhäk - Tales from the Sahara by Ulrike Koch
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross - Facing Death by Stefan Haupt
Hilde’s Journey by Christof Vorster
On Dirait le Sud (Back for More) by Vincent Pluss
Strong Shoulders by Ursula Meier

Swiss Panorama

Bamako is a Miracle by Samuel Chalard
Charlie Chaplin - The Forgotten Years by Felice Zenoni
The Definition of Insanity by Frank Matter and Robert Margolis
Krokus - As Long As We Live by Reto Caduff
Meier Marilyn by Stina Werenfels
Mission in Hell by Frédéric Gonseth
Tarifa Traffic – Death in the Straits of Gibraltar by Joakim Demmer
Ready, Steady, Charlie! by Mike Eschmann
The Wedding Cow by Tomi Streiff

Swiss Shorts

Beloved Freedom by Fabrice Losego
Berlin Backstage by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond
The Café Society by Maxwell Guberman and Matthias Urban
The Cage by Gilles Lepore
Einspruch III by Rolando Colla
Genève-Marseille by Frédéric Choffat
Joyeux Noël Felix! by Izabela Rieben and Sami Ben Youssef
Night and Every Other Day by Eric Grant
Meyers by Steven Hayes
My Mother’s Motorbike by Séverine Cornamusaz
One Bullet Left by Markus Fischer
A Perfect Meeting by Douglas Beer
Viandes by Bruno Deville

Swiss Retrospective – Peter Liechti

Lucky Jack - Three Attempts to Stop Smoking
Namibia Crossings - Spirits & Limits
Signers Koffer

US Focus

Mojados: Through the Night by Tommy Davis
The Watershed by Mary Trunk
12 by Larry Bridges


US Panorama

Dear Pillow by Bryan Poyser and Jacob Vaughan
Spit It Out by Jonathan Skurnik
The Fallen by Ari Taub
Ties on a Fence by Corina Gamma

US Shorts

9:30 by Yong Mun Chee
Bathtime in Clerkenwell by Alex Budovsky
The Bear Hunter by Mary Robertson
Changing Room by Edward Ruggiero
Exit 8A by Margaret Harris
Fault by Justin Swibel
Gretchen and the Night Danger by Steve Collins
Magda by Chel White
Making Up by Jennifer Gauthier
Ola’s Box of Clovers by Genevieve Anderson
Paper Route by Robert Frank
Poet by Danica Mills
Roma by Jacob Burckhardt
Silencio Profundo by Gustavo Loza (No Borders selection)
Smitten by Karen Skloss
The Virile Man by David Zellner
The Wizard of Odds by Susan Feinberg

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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