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The 2nd Swiss American Film Festival in NY

The 2nd Swiss American Film Festival: Friday, November 5th through Thursday, November 11th – U.S. and NY premieres of over 50 Swiss and U.S. films, and several Special Events.

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 U.S 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, November 5th with a free all-day co-production seminar, followed by a kick-off party on Saturday, November 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 the 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, 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 is 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 presents the little known story of Chaplin’s life in Switzerland after being exiled from the U.S 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. Chaplin – The Forgotten Years features Geraldine Chaplin, famous film producer Arthur Cohn, Peter Ustinov, Petula Clark, and Liselotte Pulver.

In the U.S Focus section, we’re 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, hoping to evade the U.S Border Patrol while facing dehydration, hypothermia and hunger. We’ll also be presenting The Watershed, a timely and disturbing subject treated very originally (Audience Award, SXSW 2004) – 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. With its fractured narrative and stunning visuals, 12 offers a rare experience in American film-going.

The Shorts section will include 17 U.S shorts and 13 Swiss shorts, screened in six 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. Also featured are the witty Gretchen and the Night Dancer 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 Berlin Backstage, winner of 2004 Berlin Today Award (directed by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, featuring conductor Simon Rattle).

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