Undeterred by the pandemic, the wheels of Switzerland’s film production machine kept on spinning in 2021, churning out the meticulously made multicultural co-productions the country is known for that scored slots at top festivals.

Works by young directors such as Elie Grappe, whose coming-of-age drama “Olga” launched at Cannes; Niccolò Castelli’s terrorism-themed “Atlas,” which bowed at Locarno; and also the VR project “Caves” by Carlos Isabel Garcìa, which premiered at Venice; provided a preamble to the exceptionally strong Swiss presence at this year’s Berlinale.

Berlin sees a record-breaking two competition slots filled by new works from established Swiss directors, Ursula Meier’s “The Line” and Michael Koch’s “A Piece of Sky,” plus several more Swiss titles in other sections.

“In the worst year ever we shot three productions back-to-back during the pandemic; somehow we got used to it,” says Oscar-nominated Max Karli (“My Life as a Zucchini”), who is among the producers of “The Line” via his Geneva-based Bandita Productions, in tandem with Pauline Gygax.

In Switzerland, the film and TV industry held firm last year as one of the few sectors where camera crews and actors continued to work, unlike advertising, which shuttered completely for many months.

“It was quite hard because we were shooting without insurance pertaining to anything linked to the pandemic,” Karli says, though some government subsidies were made available for physical productions struck by COVID infections.

But, as Karli and other Swiss producers point out, Switzerland is a confederation. “We are basically three countries,” he says. The country, which prides itself on its cultural diversity, is home to regions with distinct cultural identities: mainly German, French and Italian. That means “there is no single cinema, but three different ones,” within such a small territory. “So it’s very difficult to be recognized abroad,” he notes.

Fittingly most Swiss films are co-productions, mainly with Germany, France, Belgium and Italy, and that, by contrast, “helps get into different festivals,” Karli notes.

This identity issue is reflected in Meier, who was born in eastern France, near the Swiss border, shot “The Line” on Lake Geneva, which is the largest lake in Switzerland, yet she purposely did not identify it as such. Though the film is unmistakably set in Switzerland, “it is not the Switzerland we expect,” she says in her director’s statement.

“In all her movies the locations are very important, but at the same time you can’t say exactly where it is; where it belongs, as if she were systematically looking at the off-field of the chosen places,” Gygax says.

As to Meier’s own identity, Gygax says: “She’s like Jean-Luc Godard: the French say he is French; the Swiss say he is Swiss. And Ursula is both too. I think there is something very Swiss in her, which is this rigor, this perseverance.”

This same rigor stands out in Koch’s sophomore work “A Piece of Sky,” set in a remote village in the Swiss Alps. Koch “researches a lot,” says his producer Christof Neracher. The director spent three years in the village casting non-professional actors and gaining their trust. Neracher, who is CEO of Zurich-based Hugofilm, proudly points out that “A Piece of Sky” “is the first Swiss-German movie that’s made it into the Berlin competition in a decade.”

“A Piece of Sky,” which is co-produced with Germany’s Pandora Film Produktion, stands as proof that the country is “much more important” for him in terms of partnerships “than the French part of Switzerland,” Neracher notes.

However, Neracher does work a lot with the canton of Ticino, the Italian-speaking Swiss side where he recently made India-born and Switzerland-raised Bindu de Stoppani’s female-driven dramedy “40 & Climbing,” which features an Italian cast.

So, at least from a production standpoint, there is definite crossover between the different parts of Switzerland.

Ticino-based Michela Pini, who shepherded Swiss-Peruvian director Klaudia Reynicke’s Ticino-set dark comedy “Love Me Tender,” a recent Swiss cinema standout, is the lead producer of Cyril Schäublin’s “Unrest,” playing in Berlin’s Panorama section. Pic is set during the 19th century in Switzerland’s Saint-Imier valley, which is famous for watchmaking, where both Swiss-German and French are spoken. The film’s languages are Swiss-German, French and Russian.

“What’s interesting,” says Neracher, is that “on all sides [in Switzerland] there is now more emerging talent than there’s been in a long time.” The producer hopes increasing festival exposure “can have an impact on the younger generation of Swiss filmmakers.”

“Now they can look around and say: It’s even possible for a director in Switzerland — where this hasn’t been conceivable for the past decade — to get out there and have an international career.”