Swiss Film School Day

At the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur 2023

At first, I wanted to make a podcast about the Swiss Film School Day of the International Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, one of my favourite festivals, by the way. I wanted to record the Q&As and add personal interviews with the film students. «This would make a very nice special episode for Filmexplorer’s student series», I thought, for the Swiss Film School Day is a special competition at the festival: It showcases a selection of films from the ZHdK, écal, HEAD and HSLU (both the Animation and Video departments). Some are graduation projects, some are workshops films. I like this programme very much. All films are screened during one day and a jury (the same one as the Swiss Competition) asks questions and (mostly) provides feedback.

Also, as a former student from Luzern, I think it’s important to be able to meet filmmakers from other schools and to see their work. Every school of Switzerland has a different way of teaching and it’s always nice to get a glimpse at what others are doing. It also offers great insight to people who are trying to find out which school they should apply to. It’s also an opportunity to screen your work in Winterthur, to get feedback and to learn how to respond to critical remarks in a public setting.

It’s actually very difficult to give and receive said criticism, and the risk of creating a power dynamic is behind the door if, for example, the jury has the role of the experts who tell you the “harsh truth” about your work. Of course, it’s interesting to receive sincere feedback from people who have a different experience, but perhaps this could also happen in a less hierarchical way, with mutual listening and sharing of personal impressions. In addition maybe this could also offer a less biased kind of criticism and create more space for learning.

The difficulty I experienced this year at the Swiss Film School day made me decide to not make a podcast with the recording of the Q&As, but to write short texts on a selection of films. I am not an expert; only two years ago, I was a student presenting a film in this programme myself and, in a way, I still see myself as a student. My perspective is one of both a less trained film critic and a more-than-trained student. In any way, for the moment, I’m a film critic who almost exclusively writes about student films (see also the Film Student Interviews on Filmexplorer), and I’m very happy about it. Film schools offer a place to be daring and to explore various way to make films, and because of that, I think there is a lot to learn from the work of film students. I’m looking forward to continuing this series and engaging with more student films.

Swiss Film School Day | Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur | 9/11/2023
More Info

A selection from the four Swiss Film Schools

Vanessa Hüppins explored space through the use of sound in Houdini, and the short film could be described as an experimental reaction to reality. We are in a bar, people are talking. One by one, audio tracks are removed, shifting our perception of what is happening. Little by little, the bar becomes a screen surrounded by two musicians who improvise in response to the images. Vanessa Hüppins plays with the very structures of filmmaking. She moves and removes the layers of what makes a film, to express how perceptions shape our sense of reality.  Like the musicians she collaborates with, she works with intuition and make films with a creative and reactive posture.

Vanessa Hüppin | CH 2023 | 13’ | HSLU Video, Luzern | More Info

In an exercise of adaptation, Camille Anker, the director of Térébenthine, decided to transmute a song together with some paintings. With carefully crafted images (the director comes from a photography background), the film builds a strong emotional atmosphere. Yes, the narrative is quite vague, and the dramaturgy doesn’t really follow any evolution in the characters or their relationships, but for me Térébenthine is a film with the same function as a song. I want to watch it several times, while letting my own thoughts wander. It’s not a narrative, it’s a poetic space to feel.

Camille Anker | CH 2023 | 10’ | écal, Lausanne | More Info 


A shrimp in a fridge. This is how Crevette represents the fear of pregnancy. Starting from their own experiences, the team of four directors (Noémi Knobil, Sven Bachmann, Jill Vágner, Elina Cara Huber) expanded their project to a metaphorical narrative where everyone could find elements to connect with: the character is opening a messy fridge where everything comes alive. Through a clever inversion of colours, we enter the mind of the character as they meet the embryo-looking shrimp and try to come to terms with it. The film remains open ended and offers the possibility to be watched in a loop. Crevette is a fluid narrative, both precise and open to personal interpretation.

Noémi Knobil, Sven Bachmann, Jill Vágner, Elina Cara Huber | CH 2023 | 5’ | HSLU Animation, Lucerne | More Info

Combining animation and documentary, Gavilàn is a hybrid journey about roots. Using puppets and paper animation, the film follows Sophie to her family in Chile. In order to tell something that was almost impossible to express, the director Myra Lou Ana Thiémard decided to use fiction as a filter for her story, and the character of Sophie is played by her little sister in a very physically expressive way. Through interviews with family members, we get jigsaw puzzle type pieces of the story, but they are difficult to assemble and the whole picture remains inaccessible. The thoughts grow more and more complex, turning into plants who invade the puppet’s world, but this painful process is necessary. In the sky of the city, a condor is gently accompanying Sophie, waiting for her to find herself.

Myra Lou Ana Thiémard | CH 2023 | 18’ | HEAD, Geneva | More Info

Pascal Kohler wanted to do something in reaction to the extinction of animals. He first did some research on frogs and discussed it with a biologist. The scientist then told him that the disappearance of bees is also a very big issue. Pascal Kohler said jokingly «yes, but they already have their film: More than Honey». It turns out that that was exactly the problem. People have started to install beehives for honeybees everywhere, endangering the populations of solitary bees, and so Wo die wilden Bienen wohnen is meant to warn about the disappearance of the less known bees. However, it also does something else by recreating the point of view of bees. Through macro moving images, we fly around in the flowers, exploring what an insect’s view of the world might be.

Pascal Kohler | CH 2023 | 9’ | ZHdK, Zürich | More Info