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It was not until the late 1930s that film production really emerged on a broad scale in Switzerland. The upswing in production at this time was due largely to the influx of foreign immigrants such as the Austrian Leopold Lindtberg and the Frenchman Jacques Feyder, who fled to Switzerland to escape National Socialism. During the Second World War over 40 feature films were produced in Switzerland, all of them aimed primarily at promoting national political and cultural self-awareness. Lindtberg's refugee film "Die letzte Chance" (1944/45) became an international success. After the war Swiss cinema was devoted mainly to themes associated with patriotic ideals and nineteenth-century farming life as depicted in the novels of Jeremias Gotthelf. In 1962 a law was passed establishing a system of state subsidies for the cinema, which provided the basis for a long-term upswing, and in western Switzerland filmmakers received commissions to work for television. Many of the new films were social documentaries about everyday life. The pioneers at this stage were Henry Brandt, Reni Martens and Waiter Marti, Alain Tanner and Alexander J. Sailer. In the 1970s it was mainly French-speaking Swiss directors such as Michel Soutter, Claude Goratta, and Alain Tanner who helped Swiss cinema toward an international breakthrough - along with Jean-Luc Godard, who works in France. Many filmmakers have concentrated mainly on documentaries of Swiss life. They include Richard Dindo, Bernhard Giger, Kurt Gloor, Marlies Graf, Peter von Gunten, Villi Hermann, Markus Imhoof, Thomas Koerfer, Remo Legnazzi, Rolf Lyssy, Fredi M. Murer, Francis Reusser, Daniel Schmid, and Yves Yersin. A film workshop is held every January in Solothurn at which the latest Swiss productions are shown. Other cinematic events in Switzerland include the International Film Festival in Locarno (founded in 1947) and the International Documentary Film Festival in Nyon. The Swiss Film Center (Schweizerisches Filmzentrum, Mijnstergasse 18, CH-8001 Zurich) publishes annual catalogues of the most recent Swiss films.

Printed in Switzerland, 1993
Reproduction permitted

A new approach developed in the early 1980s for applying the medium of photography is well demonstrated in the works of Balthasar Burkhard, Annelies Strba, Olaf Breunig, Rémy Markowitsch, Chantal Michel, Markus Raetz, Fischli/Weiss, and Beat Streuli. A playful treatment of perception and image, humor and irony can be observed in the works of many artists. Narrative pictorial construction, picture and language configurations, magic tricks, and metaphorical references are used. The exhibition "Young. New Photography in Switzerland," shown at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in summer 1999, displayed an immense diversity and originality through works of 16 young photographers. Surprisingly, ten of those artists were women. Until then, women had played a minor role in photography.

Besides the Béjart Ballet Lausanne and various professional ballet ensembles in Zurich, Basel, and Geneva, Swiss contemporary dancers and ensembles receive increasingly international acclaim, among them Alias Compagnie, who obtained the prestigious Kirin Award in Japan, Nomades Loft, Movers, Silvia Buol, and Philipp Saire. Today, an extremely interesting and lively dance scene of high quality and originality can be observed, especially in the cities of Zurich and Bern.


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