ANNECY — During the Balkan War, Swiss journalist Christian Würtenberg was murdered in mysterious circumstances. Twenty five years later, his 15-years-younger cousin tries to clarify the real facts behind his death in a journey into both her own past and the memory of the conflict, a journey told by young Swiss helmer Anja Kofmel, Würtenberg’s cousin, in a mix of animation and live action.
“Chris the Swiss includes interviews with famed terrorist Carlos the Jackal, a Spanish mercenary and journalists.
Wurtenberg had apparently joined an extreme right and ultra Catholic paramilitary group called The First International Platoon of Volunteers (PIV) that was fighting for Croatia, Kofmel said. “On top of that, the PIV was said to be financed by arms trading and drug money and supported by Opus Dei,” she added.
Budgeted at $3.3 million, “Chris” is co-produced by Zurich-based Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion, Zagreb’s Nukleus Film and Leipzig’s MA.JA.DE Filmproduktion. “Chris the Swiss” producer is writer-director Samir who helmed Switzerland’s 2016 Oscar entry “Iraqi Odyssey.”
He calls Kofmel Switzerland’s next star-director, adding: “Anja is putting her craft and imagination [to the service of] a story of relevance, mixing animation and documentary in a new way.”
Educated at Lucerne’s School of Design and Art and Paris’ Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD), Anja Kofmel has certainly sparked expectation over her feature debut “Chris the Swiss,” which follows on from graduation short “Chrigi.” Other early Kofmel shorts include “Boxer Box” and “Strichcode.”
Kofmel completed her documentary training working as assistant director for actor-director Eric Bergkraut, who made “Letter to Anna, the Story of Journalist Politkovskaya’s Death.”
“I decided to mix animation and live action in “Chris” because of the nature of the story,” Kofmel explained. Despite intense research, many aspects of Würtenberg’s death still remain obscure. “At the same time, the film deals with themes such as personal perception, cover-ups and fading memories,” she added.
“Chris the Swiss” will finish post-production in November.
“What fascinates me are stories which explore the thin border between reality and fiction, experiment with the thin line between inner perception and outside reality,” says Kofmel.
In her Her next project, currently titled “Hello Isabel,” is a fictional story with an again toon-docu format about a blind girl who’s suddenly able to see, thanks to new technologies.