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Swiss Fests Pact on ‘Connect to Reality’ Initiative to Boost Local Film Industry

Variety logo Variety 5/26/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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The Locarno, Zurich, and Geneva Tous Écrans festivals have joined forces to launch a collective initiative and think tank called Connect to Reality meant to help Swiss industry professionals analyse specific challenges they face in film development, production and distribution.

The new initiative marks a rare case of the three events joining forces, in an effort to to give Swiss productions a boost on both the domestic and international markets.

Though quite different, these fests are effectively competitors.

Connect to Reality comes at a time of ups and downs for the industry in Switzerland where admissions were down more than 7 percent in 2016, a year marked by the smashing success of Swiss stop motion animation pic “My Life as a Zucchini,” directed by Claude Barras, following its Cannes Directors’ Fortnight launch.

This year Switzerland is repped in Cannes by Barbet Schroeder documentary “The Venerable W,” about an Islamophobic Buddhist monk, launched as a special screening.

Connect to Reality stems from the Locarno film market’s StepIn initiative, organized since 2016 in tandem with the Geneva fest, dedicated to delving into the nitty gritty of new global film industry trends which this year will look at the timely issue of the growing impact of streaming platforms on arthouse cinema and movie theatres.

The new laboratory of sorts to improve the Swiss industry will comprise three annual panels, starting with one on distribution during the Industry Days informal mart at the upcoming Locarno fest, which runs August 2-12.

Film production will be discussed at the Zurich Film Festival, which runs September 28-October 8, while challenges pertaining to development of Swiss movies will be the topic thrashed out during the Geneva Digital Market at the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Écrans, which runs November 3-11.

These events “will help improve the common understanding of necessary reforms in order to significantly and permanently increase the presence of Swiss movies in national and international theatres,” Locarno’s Deputy Artistic Director and Head of International, Nadia Dresti, said in a statement.

“It seems crucial to analyse the current system of creation, production and distribution of Swiss films,” noted Emmanuel Cuénod, Director of the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Écrans, who added that “we want to find ways to modify the current [Swiss] incentive system and raise it to meet market requirements.”

Karl Spoerri, who is Zurich Film Festival’s Artistic Director, underlined in the statement that “the digital transformation and changing viewing habits has set a challenge to rethink the production and exploitation of audiovisual content.”

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