10-part political sci-fi omnibus delivers a sometimes-scathing portrait of modern-day Switzerland
GUADALAJARA – Paris-based Wide, headed by Loic Magneron, has licensed Germany and Austria on “Heimatland” (“Wonderland”) having already closed France on a calling card for the talents and dissidence of an up-and-coming generation of Swiss filmmakers.
Stefan Paul’s Arsenal Filmverleih, a classic German arthouse distributor and buyer of “Ida” and “Timbuktu,” has acquired both Germany and Austria. In France, the other key territory for art films, and especially if part-shot in French as “Wonderland,” Arnaud Kerneguez’s Kanibal will release “Wonderland” in Gallic theaters this April.
“We are happy that these strong distributors have decided to bring this original approach to collective cinema to theaters in their countries, trusting that this very contemporary subject will resonate with audiences all around Europe,” said Wide founder Loïc Magneron.
Wide has also begun to mop up smaller territories, with Uzengyia taking theatrical for Macedonia.
Enshrining the broad mix of genre and social or political issues, which has become a rallying film style for many young filmmakers in countries with multiple causes for complaint – think Latin America – but transferring the mix to a supposed paragon of peace and local democracy in the heart of Europe, “Wonderland” unspools as a storm of potentially catastrophic storm gathers over Switzerland and its borders closed. Interweaving 10 human stories, and building as a critique-strewn parable of Swiss traits and history, the omnibus feature is directed and written by Lisa Blattner, Gregor Frei, Jan Gassmann, Benny Jaberg, Carmen Jaquier, Michael Krummenacher, Jonas Meier, Tobias Noelle, Lionel Rupp, Mike Scheiwiller. Of the 10, only four – Gassmann, Krummenacher, Jaberg, Rupp – have released a feature.
A production of Bern-based Contrast Film and 2:1 Film in Zurich and Munich-based Passanten Film, “Wonderland” world premiered at August’s Locarno Festival.
“Switzerland does a great job of still selling and promoting itself to the world as a clean, rich, safe and friendly country. But if you look closely at it, much has changed these last years, both on the economic and political level,” said Contrast producers Ivan Madeo and Stefan Eichenberger.
“Our old Swiss ideologies – like hospitality, solidarity, and respect – have melted away under the pressure of ruthless multinational companies and increasing scare tactics of the political right. These are forces that still rely on a safe Switzerland from foreign parts, but what they’re making out of this country is not Switzerland anymore,” they added.
The sales announcement comes as Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival screens a broad panorama of Swiss films – live-action features, documentaries and shorts – as part of its tribute to Switzerland as its guest country of honor. Driving hard into Swiss films, Wide represents three features: “Wonderland,” “Dora or the Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents,” about the sexual awakening of a mentally disabled girl, and Lionel Baier’s euthanasia dramedy “Vanity.”