Locarno: Swiss Dominik Locher’s ‘Goliath’ Scooped Up by Wide Management (EXCLUSIVE)

Set in Switzerland, Locher’s Locarno Competition player questions contemporary models of masculinity

Locarno: Swiss Dominik Locher’s ‘Goliath’ Acquired
Courtesy CognitoFilms

Driving into new talent, Loic Magneron’s Paris-based Wide Management has swooped on world sales rights to Dominik Locher’s “Goliath,” the only majority-Swiss film in main competition at this year’s Locarno, Switzerland’s biggest film festival.

Deal excludes Switzerland and is non-exclusive for Germany.

World premiering at Locarno, where Wide, a fixture at the Swiss Festival, will introduce the title to buyers, “Goliath” turns on David (Sven Schelker), a twentysomething who breaks out in panic when girlfriend Jessy (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) tells him that she’s pregnant.

When both are assaulted in a city train and David fails to protect Jessy, his fears of inadequacy as a man take hold, according to the film’s synopsis. Frantic, David inject steroids, work out at the gym, builds his body, self confidence but soon tendency to violence. For Jessy and the unborn child, he becomes a threat.

“After a physical shakedown my insecure protagonist struggles to find the balance between visceral and emotional strength,” Locher told Variety.

“It is also a reference to the growing influence of macho figures like Putin, Duterte or Trump on young men,” he added.

Co-written by Locher, who took a B.A. in theater at the Zurich University of Arts (ZHdK) and a M.A. in film directing at Los Angeles’ American Film Institute, “Goliath” is lead-produced by Dario Schoch and Rajko Jazbec, partners at Zurich-based CognitoFilms, and co-produced by ZHdK and Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, Switzerland’s national TV network.

“Goliath” marks Locher’s follow-up to debut “Tempo Girl: The Story of a Generation.” As in other high-profile Swiss films from younger filmmakers  – think 2015’s “Wonderland” or indeed Locher’s feature debut, “Tempo Girl – The Story of a Generation,” where a wannabe novelist sets out to discover “authentic” experience and finds an authentic Switzerland in a benighted Swiss valley – “Goliath” questions received international wisdom about Switzerland..

“Young Swiss filmmakers are questioning Swiss identity,” said producer Schoch.

In a country renown abroad for its pacifism and high living standards and democracy, rather like Nordic Noir, “Goliath” lifts the lid on a far darker, more shaded vision of humanity.

“Films like ‘Chrieg’ or ‘Goliath’ focus on characters and self-critical, honest storytelling, never ending the struggle between good and bad within ourselves,” Locher said about his Swiss filmmaker generation’s hallmarks. “Also, we no longer try to please everybody. Instead, we try to develop a strong artistic vision,” he added.

“For more than 10 years now, Wide has been engaged in the promotion of first and second-time film directors, reflecting contemporary society and young adults’ problems,” said Magneron at Wide, which also sold “Wonderland,” calling “Goliath” “a really promising film from a young European director.”

Praising its cinematography and artistic direction, he said it offered multiple marketing possibilities for distributors.

“We have been also hooked by its totally universal themes and issues that will certainly talk to all couples and young parents around the world,” he concluded.

The Swiss “look more to ourselves than across the borders and we’ve started to realize that this is at the core of a lot of problems,” said Schoch. Swiss cinema must reach out across borders in Europe, he added.

Co-starring German shooting star Bauer, star of Constantin’s Sundance hit “Axolotl Overkill,” and German actor José Barros, “Goliath” is one step is that direction. Another is German Kerstin Polte’s upcoming “Cloud Whispers,” produced by Germany’s Augenschein Filmproduktion but co-produced by CognitoFilms.

Schoch commented: “If you look at families we are such a mix and with every generation we mix even more. It’s time to make pan-European films, international film for international audiences.”