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‘Those Who Work,’ ‘Chris the Swiss’ Top 2019 Swiss Film Awards

Two debut features in writer-director Antoine Russbach’s “Those Who Work” and Anja Kofmel’s animated documentary “Chris the Swiss,” were the big winners at Friday night’s Swiss Film Awards, notching three plaudits each.

Sold by Be For Films, “Those Who Work,” stars Belgian actor Olivier Gourmet, who has appeared in every single film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne since 1996’s “La Promesse,” to winning a Cannes best actor award for 2002’s “The Son.” In Russbach’s film Gourmet plays Frank, a 50-something fixer for a company which rents out cargo ships. On a busy day, to prevent a ship being put into quarantine, he rashly orders a stowaway be thrown overboard to certain death. The decision gets him fired, not for moral reasons, but in the hopes of avoiding a media scandal.

The film scooped the awards for best fiction feature, best screenplay and best performance in a supporting role, which went to Pauline Schneider, a relative newcomer herself.

“Chris the Swiss” is the real-life story of Christian Würtenberg, a Swiss journalist murdered under strange circumstances during the Balkan War. The film follows Würtenberg’s then 10-year-old cousin – Kofmel herself – and her efforts to find out what happened to him. The animated parts of the film suggest what Würtenberg might have gone through in the last weeks and days of his life, while the live action segments chronicle Kofmel’s investigation, including interviews with mercenaries, journalists, and Würtenberg’s relatives.

Popular on Variety

The documentary is an Urban Distribution presentation of a Dchoint Ventschr Filmproduktion, Nukleus Film, Ma.Ja.De. and IV Films co-production, with international sales handled by Urban Distribution, Paris. Previously selected for Cannes Crotics’ Week, and nominated at the European Animation Awards, on Friday it won Swiss Film Awards for best documentary, best score and best editing.

Having screened at festivals such as Venice, Toronto, Sundance and IDFA and scooping a special jury prize at SXSW, Corina Schwingruber Ilić’s documentary “All Inclusive” was selected as the best Swiss short film of the year. It highlights scenes on a cruise ship suggesting the commoditization of holiday pleasure and the massification of cruise life and entertainment.

At Venice, Variety announced that she and her husband Nikola Ilic were preparing “Dida,” a documentary five years in the making, which approaches themes of immigration, learning disabilities and globalization drawn from Nikola’s own experiences.

Judith Hofmann and Joel Basman won best actress and actor respectively, Hofmann for her work in Simon Jaquemet’s San Sebastian and Toronto competition player “The Innocent,” and Basman – a former Berlin EFP Shooting Star winner – for his role in Michael Steiner’s “Wolkenbruch.”

Swiss Film Awards 2019

BEST FICTION FILM

“Those Who Work,” (Antoine Russbach)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM

“Chris the Swiss,” (Anja Kofmel)

BEST SHORT FILM

“All Inclusive,” (Corina Schwingruber Ilić)

BEST ANIMATION FILM

“Selfies,“ by Claudius Gentinetta, Gentinettafilm

BEST SCREENPLAY

“Those Who Work,” (Antoine Russbach)

BEST ACTRESS

Judith Hofmann, (“The Innocent”)

BEST ACTOR

Joel Basman, (“Wolkenbruch”)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Pauline Schneider, (“Those Who Work”)

BEST FILM SCORE

Marcel Vaid (“Chris the Swiss”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Peter Indergand, (“Eldorado”)

BEST FILM EDITING

Stefan Kälin (“Chris the Swiss”)

BEST GRADUATION FILM

“Black Hours,” (Wendy Pillonel)

HONORARY AWARD

Beki Probst, Cinema Expert and Cultural Mediator

SPECIAL ACADEMY AWARD

Monika Schmid, costume designer, and Su Erdt, production designer, for their historical design in “Zwingli”

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