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Like a good cheese fondue, the Swiss stick together.
The Zurich Film Festival on Tuesday announced, in a sign of national solidarity, it would open up its program this year to films from other Swiss festivals forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 16th Zurich festival, which runs Sept. 24 to Oct. 4, will give “carte blanche” to the Locarno, Nyon, Freiburg, Basel and Neuenburg festivals to screen a film of their choosing from their 2020 line-up in Zurich’s theaters.
The “Solidarité Festivals” initiative is the brainchild of Zurich’s new artistic director Christian Jungen.
“Every one of our programmers love these [other Swiss] festivals so we want to offer this carte blanche as a sign of friendship and solidarity,” he said. “[The Zurich Film Festival] believes that it is crucial to work and stand together for the sake of the seventh art during what is an extremely difficult time for the entire film industry.”
The five films picked include, from the Neuenburg Fantasy Film Festival the German-language horror tale Schalf by director Michael Venus; from Nyon’s Visions du Réel the documentary Davos by directors Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann; from the Freiburg festival The Hive by director Eylem Kaftan; and from Basel Oliver Hermanus’ South African war drama Moffie.
Locarno, which this year only presented works-in-progress from filmmakers forced to stop production due to the pandemic, the festival has picked a classic from its back catalog, and will screen the 1982 period drama The Night of the Shooting Stars by directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.
“Yes, we were rivals. No, we’re not anymore,” said Marco Solari, President Locarno Film Festival, about the Solidarité Festivals project. “There is enough room in Switzerland for several festivals, as long as we respect each other’s identity and offer each other our mutual support. This project by Christian Jungen, who has inherited an absolute gem from his predecessors, should be seen as a foundation for the future.”
Zurich this year is also opening its theaters to independent movies, mainly from the U.S., that would have premiered at other film festivals, such as SXSW and Tribeca, that were cancelled due to COVID-19. The U.S. screenings are primarily for the film industry, to give world sales companies a platform to present their movies to international distributors.
Zurich will announce its full 2020 line-up on Sept. 10.
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