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    Scene from On dirait le sud. in Swiss American Film Festival
    Scene from "On dirait le sud."

    Swiss Mix

    The Swiss American Film Festival in New York hails a new generation of filmmakers from the home country and offers some interesting American entries as well.


    You can see a French film any day of the year in New York. The Germans and Italians have their festivals and their breakout hits as well. Now the Swiss of New York are finished being neutral observers.

    Seventeen films from Switzerland and seven from the United States.

    Related links: Official site
    Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. (at Second Street) Quad Cinema 34 West 13th St., between 6th Ave. and University (212) 255-8800. Tribeca Cinema

    Swiss-American Film Festival 2004
    • Overview
    • The Fallen (new version of Letters from the Dead)
    • Strong Shoulders
    • Official site
    The second annual Swiss American Film Festival features 17 Swiss or Swiss-connected entries as well as seven American ones over five days at the Anthology, Quad and Tribeca theaters. The festival grew out of the Swisspeaks cultural festival held a few years ago, and is spearheaded by émigré Nicolas Rossier with the support of his country's embassy.

    "The concept started very small," Rossier says. "I thought it was a good idea, but in Switzerland things moved very slowly. But when they realized that some films were getting picked up..."

    One film from last year's festival, the documentary "War Photographer," was released in New York theaters, and Rossier says that unusual piece of work is emblematic of new ideas brewing in Swiss cinema.

    "There's kind of a very dynamic movement in Switzerland," Rossier explains. "I think there's a will in Switzerland not only to be more dynamic but not to be Parisian cinema or German cinema. There is a certain pace to it, and a certain way of observing, and that is starting to develop."

    In contrast to an older generation that included French transplant Jean-Luc Godard, a generation of new filmmakers, including Rolf Lyssy and Fredi Murer are developing a new aesthetic, partly inspired by the Danish Dogme 95 movement — its local variation becoming known as "Doegmeli."

    "Since five years, there have been a lot of people trying to move forward and make films," Rossier says. "And probably that comes because the Danish started making that noise, saying we don't have to wait two years for grants, we can make our films on a low budget. It's a new generation."

    Festival articles



    The Definition of Insanity

    An actor's comically absurd struggles reveal the humanity behind the hopelessness of creative life.


    Letters from the Dead

    "Letters from the Dead," making up in simple humanity what it lacks in big special-effects explosions, is an unadorned look at the ordinary German and Italian soldiers in the World War II trenches as the Americans closed in.


    Strong Shoulders

    A high school running star struggles less with femininity than with the frustrations of being a girl athlete in a boy's world in this realistic Swiss drama.


    The Watershed

    The maker of "The Watershed" interviews her own father, mother, brothers and sisters to tell her family's story from divorce through depression to, just maybe, redemption.

    NOVEMBER 6, 2004

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