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Swiss Documentary Festival Visions du Reel Unveils Lineup Including 82 World Premieres



Swiss documentary film festival Visions du Réel (VdR) has unveiled the lineup of its 54th edition, which features a broad panorama of both established names and newcomers from around the world.

The festival kicks off on April 21 with the world premiere of “Nightwatchers” by Juliette de Marcillac and runs through April 30. The event will screen a total of 163 films from 46 countries, with a 50-50 parity between female and male directors.

No fewer than 12 out of 14 films in the main International Competition and 13 out of 15 in the Burning Lights section, the festival sidebar dedicated to new documentary expression, are world premieres, bearing testimony to the fest’s reputation for setting the trend on the global doc scene.

“I am thrilled to see that Visions du Réel is confirming both its role as a trailblazer – there are 24 first feature length films whilst 82 of the films screened are world premieres – and strong ties with filmmakers who return to the festival this year, including important and established Swiss and international directors,” says artistic director Emilie Bujès, referring to Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler.

He is back in the main competition with his latest film, “While the Green Grass Grows,” part of a seven-feature filmed personal diary project, two of which will be presented in the fest’s host town Nyon. The project will also be taking part in the festival’s work-in-progress industry event.

Other familiar names in the International section include Daniel McCabe (“This Is Congo”) with “Grasshopper Republic,” about grasshopper harvesting in Uganda; Mattia Colombo (“Il Posto”) with “Pure Unknown,” co-directed with Valentina Cicogna, that tells the story of one doctor’s fight for the right to a dignified burial for migrants drowned at sea; and Tomasz Wolski (“An Ordinary Country,” “1970”) and Piotr Pawlus with “In Ukraine,” that delves into the new normal of a country under siege.


Among the newcomers, this year marks a strong Spanish presence with “Antier noche” by Alberto Martín Menacho, described as a “graceful debut film [that] spins stories in a reality suspended between tradition and modernity”; “O Auto das Ánimas” by Pablo Lago Dantas, “a warm and tender portrait of [the director’s] family [shot] during the brandy-making season” in his native Galician village; and “Fauna” by Pau Faus (“Ada for Mayor”), about a Barcelona farmer who lives next to a high-tech lab that does animal testing.

With 37 Swiss productions and co-productions across all sections of the festival and a rich selection in the other main sidebar, the National Competition, “Switzerland is cementing its excellence in documentary film, not only with the well-known names and/or those associated with Visions du Réel, but also younger filmmakers, including a lot of women,” says Bujès.

These include both established filmmakers like Andreas Müller and Simon Guy Fässler who will be presenting “Ruäch – A Journey into Yenish Europe,” as well as newcomers Juliette Riccaboni and Laura Gabay with their debut features “Le Fils du chasseur” and “Para no olvidar.”

Festival goers will also have a chance to meet this year’s special guests: Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, Italian director Alice Rohrwacher and Swiss director Jean-Stéphane Bron. Prestigious jury members include Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho and Florence Almozini, senior programmer for film at the Lincoln Center, and French screenwriter-director Céline Sciamma (“My Life as a Courgette,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) will be attending as well.

On the industry side, some 31 projects from 32 countries have been selected from a total of 400 submissions as part of VdR-Industry’s three leading activities: Pitching, Work-in-Progress and Rough Cut Lab.

Paying homage to her predecessors, head of the VdR-Industry section, Sophie Bourdon, who joined from Locarno last year, said: “My main objective is to consolidate the program’s cross-cutting approach, its hybrid format – which was initially a result of the pandemic – while enhancing our services with new proposals, such as the recently extended VdR–Development Lab.”

She added that she was particularly pleased to note the return of many filmmakers from previous editions, as well as a raft of debut films that make up nearly 30% of this year’s titles, confirming the fest’s reputation as a talent springboard.


Established filmmakers pitching their projects include Laila Pakalnina (“Ausma,” “The Mirror”) with her new film “Cat on My Mind,” Italian-U.S. director Mo Scarpelli (“Frame by Frame,” “Anbessa”) with “Faith,” Carmen Castillo (“La Flaca Alejandra,” “Calle Santa Fe”), who will be presenting “Memories of an Oblivion,” and Joël Akafou (“Traverser”) with “Lonan Tché.”

VdR-Industry runs April 24-27 in Nyon and online.

See the full list of entries for the International, Burning Lights and National Competitions below. Fifty curated films from the festival will be made available online on its streaming platform from April 24 through April 30.

International Competition

“Al Djanat – The Original Paradise” by Chloé Aïcha Boro, France/Burkina Faso/Benin/Germany, International Premiere
“Antier noche” by Alberto Martín Menacho, Switzerland/Spain, World Premiere
“Defectors” by Hyun kyung Kim, Republic of Korea (South Korea)/U.S., World Premiere
“Fauna” by Pau Faus, Spain, World Premiere
“Grasshopper Republic” by Daniel McCabe, U.S., World Premiere
“Hours of Ours” by Komtouch Napattaloong, Thailand, World Premiere
“In Ukraine” by Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski, Poland/Germany, International Premiere
“Les Oubliés de la Belle Étoile” by Clémence Davigo, France, World Premiere
“Machtat” by Sonia Ben Slama, Lebanon/Tunisia/France/Qatar, World Premiere
“My Father’s Prison” by Iván Andrés Simonovis Pertíñez, Venezuela, World Premiere
“Auto das Ánimas” by Pablo Lago Dantas, Spain, World Premiere
“Pure Unknown” by Valentina Cicogna and Mattia Colombo, Italy/Switzerland/Sweden, World Premiere
“The Bilbaos” by Pedro Speroni, Argentina, World Premiere
“While the Green Grass Grows” by Peter Mettler, Switzerland/Canada, World Premiere

Burning Lights

“An Inhabited Volcano” by David Pantaleón and Jose Víctor Fuentes, Spain, World Premiere
“An Owl, a Garden & the Writer” by Sara Dolatabadi, Iran/France, World Premiere
“Apocryphal County” by Geoffrey Lachassagne, France, World Premiere
“Astrakan 79” by Catarina Mourão, Portugal, World Premiere
“Caiti Blues” by Justine Harbonnier, Canada/France, World Premiere
“Dreamers” by Stéphanie Barbey and Luc Peter, Switzerland/Germany, World Premiere
“Filming” by Samuel Moreno Alvarez, Colombia, World Premiere
“Guián” by Nicole Chi Amén, Costa Rica, World Premiere
“Knit’s Island” by Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L’helgoualc’h, France, World Premiere
“Landshaft” by Daniel Kötter, Germany/Armenia, World Premiere
“Má Sài Gòn” (“Mother Saigon”) by Khoa Lê, Canada, World Premiere
“Natalia” by Elizabeth Mirzaei, U.S., International Premiere
“Still Film” by James N. Kienitz Wilkins, USA, International Premiere
“Taxibol” by Tommaso Santambrogio, Italy, World Premiere
“This Woman” by Alan Zhang, China, World Premiere

National Competition

“Allo la France” by Floriane Devigne, Switzerland/France, World Premiere
“Chagrin Valley” by Nathalie Berger, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Chienne de rouge” by Yamina Zoutat, Switzerland/France, International Premiere
“Floating Islands” by Nicolas Humbert and Simone Fürbringer, Switzerland/Germany, World Premiere
“Follow the Water” by Pauline Julier and Clément Postec, Switzerland/France/Chile, World Premiere
“Full Tank” by Benjamin Bucher and Julia Bünter, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Hawar, Our Banished Children” by Pascale Bourgaux, Belgium/Switzerland, World Premiere
“La Maison” by Sophie Ballmer, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Le Fils du chasseur” by Juliette Riccaboni, World Premiere
“Para no olvidar” by Laura Gabay, Switzerland/France/Uruguay, World Premiere
“Ruäch – A Journey into Yenish Europe” by Andreas Müller and Simon Guy Fässler, Switzerland, World Premiere
“The Wonder Way” by Emmanuelle Antille, Switzerland, World Premiere


Source: Variety

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