Swiss Director Germinal Roaux Talks About ‘Fortuna,’ Filming Adolescence

In Berlin with his second feature, Roaux also discussed filming in black and white and his next project, 'Black Flag’

Berlinale -- 2018 -- Germinal Roaux
Germinal Roaux

BERLIN — Featuring as part of the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation 14plus section, “Fortuna,” the sophomore outing of Lausanne-born director Germinal Roaux, tells the story of an immigrant 14-year old Ethiopian girl who, after crossing the Mediterranean, finds refuge in a Swiss Alpine Catholic monastery.

“Fortuna” is sold by Paris-based Loco films and produced by Ruth Waldburger at Swiss Vega Productions, in co-production with Géraldine Sprimont and Anne-Laure Guégan at Belgium’s Need Productions. Starring Kidist Siyum, the cast also includes international cinema icon Bruno Ganz, who has worked with Eric Rohmer, Théo Angelopoulos, Wim Wenders, Ridley Scott and Terrence Malick.

Roaux is one of a notable number of Swiss filmmakers, like those of the omnibus feature “Wonderland,” which premiered at Locarno in 2015, feeling the urge to address hot issues such as migration.

A B&W movie – like all Roaux’ films – capturing the appeal of snowy landscapes, “Fortuna” plumbs the personal drama of a teen in a very different environment from her native country. The B & W lensing and austere long quiet shotspreferring a subject to move out of focus rather than pan or move the camera to followhelp to deliver drama which conveys both a sort of elemental mysticism and harsh reality at one and the same time.

“Black and white is my language. For me, it’s the ideal medium to tell stories the way I see them. I believe that the spectator gets involved in a very different way,” Roaux says.

“Cinema can lead us to experience something in the present moment, and that’s what I’m looking for. My preoccupation is to make the spectator an actor, to give him a role,”

Also a photo-journalist, Roaux’s first movie, “Left Foot Right Foot,” won a Special Mention at the Palm Springs New Visions showcase. The Swiss director then scooped the 2016 Filmmaker Award at the Zurich Festival, which allowed him to finish “Fortuna.”

“All my work as a film director revolves around the adolescence-adulthood transition. How does one become an adult? How to give meaning to one’s life?,” Roaux says, revealing that his next project, “Black Flag,” is about “young adolescents who went to war in Syria.” “Flag” will be produced by Joelle Bertossa at Switzerland’s Close-Up Films, who said that production is scheduled to start next year.