Switzerland, thanks to its prolific co-production activity, has a hand in a record-breaking 11 titles in the Berlinale’s official selection, including two films competing for the Golden Bear, and two more in Berlin’s cutting-edge Encounters section, as well as a Swiss talent selected for the fest’s Shooting Stars event, Souheila Yacoub.
Ursula Meier’s “The Line” (competition) — Following “Home” and “Sister,” Meier continues to pursue “this idea of family that is as much necessary, as it is toxic,” says the film’s producer Pauline Gygax. After a violent argument with her mother, Margaret, 35 (Stephanie Blanchoud), who has a long history of inflicting and suffering from violence, is subjected to a restraining order. She is not allowed to make contact with her mother (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) or come within 100 meters of the family home. But the separation exacerbates her desire to be closer to her family, so she returns every day to this invisible but impassable frontier. The film also stars Benjamin Biolay.
Michael Koch’s “A Piece of Sky” (competition) — In his second feature, following “Marija,” the director delves deep into the Swiss Alps to depict a tale that’s haunted him since hearing it on the radio. A story of love and violent passions involving a couple, Anna and Marco, who is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor shortly after their wedding and grows increasingly violent. Marco is even accused of sexually abusing Anna’s daughter, but she decides to honor his last wish and stay with him until his death. Koch chose to cast non-professional actors in a remote mountain village populated by ancestral characters, “spending three years there, laying the foundation that would allow him to gain their trust,” says producer Christof Neracher, who notes that this pic marks “the first Swiss-German movie in a decade that’s made it into the Berlin competition.”
Cyril Schaublin’s “Unrest” (Encounters) — The director, who is a descendant of watchmaking factory workers, has set the followup to his stylish 2017 debut “Those Who Are Fine” in a 19th century watchmaking town in Switzerland being transformed by new technologies. There, Josephine, a young factory worker, produces the balance wheel at the heart of mechanical watches. Exposed to the era’s new ways of organizing money, time and labor, she gets involved with the local movement of anarchist watchmakers and becomes romantically entangled with Russian traveler Pyotr Kropotkin.
Mitra Farahani’s “See You Friday, Robinson” (Encounters) — This long-gestating non-conventional doc directed by Iranian multi-hyphenate Farahani centers around a conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Iranian filmmaker and literary figure Ebrahim Golestan that took place via regular weekly email exchanges involving videos, images, aphorisms and letters.
Souheila Yacoub, Shooting Star — Yacoub, who broke out as a member of the demonic dance troupe in Gaspar Noe’s “Climax,” which premiered in Cannes in 2019, and in Philippe Garrel’s 2020 drama “The Salt of Tears,” has the distinction of having been at Cannes last year with two films in which she plays the lead: “A Brighter Tomorrow” by Yassine Qnia, and female friendship drama “The Braves” by Anaïs Volpe.