“L’îlot” (“Like an Island“), winner of the Grand Prix at Visions du Réel, has debuted its trailer ahead of its international premiere at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival in the Special Screenings section. Michaela Čajková at Filmotor is handling world sales.
Swiss director Tizian Büchi’s feature debut is a documentary-fiction hybrid full of magic realism.
It centers on two watchmen, who secure the river that runs through a neighborhood in Lausanne, Switzerland. Ammar is new to the job, and Daniel shares his experience with him. During their rounds and encounters with the inhabitants, they observe and are observed, while bonds are being formed. What could have happened by the river?
When awarding the film, the Visions du Réel jury commented: “A small urban island becomes the metaphor of contemporary Europe and lends itself to a deep reflection about the absurdity of borders, rules, fences and barriers. A brilliant observation, a surprising wondering, that rewrites the coordinates of geographical spaces in universal terms.”
The community captured in the film, Faverges, has “a strong sense of identity that makes you want to discover the neighborhood,” says the director, who filmed there in summer 2019 and summer 2020.
He adds: “I was looking for a film setting. Someone told me about this place. Nature in the middle of the city! A bucolic place where you get to see badgers and salamanders, where you get this feeling of mystery. I felt we could tell a lot of stories there. I always thought nature holds a strong potential for imagination. When I work, I want to understand the setting, approach it from different angles: meet the people, hear their stories, but also understand the nature, geology, architecture, history, and energy of the place. I didn’t really have a script at first. I just had a curiosity for this area, the stories to be told around the river and the actor.”
Büchi says of the hybrid nature of the film: “I love to distill little touches of fiction into a film, to create a dialogue between what is real and what is not. I like it when things are mixed up and we don’t know exactly what is what.”
Büchi graduated from the University of Lausanne in History and Aesthetics of Cinema and from the Institut des Arts de Diffusion (IAD) in Belgium in directing. He has worked for Zurich-based company Look Now!, as a teaching assistant at the film department of the HEAD in Geneva, and as a programmer for various festivals, including Neuchâtel Intl. Fantastic Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Solothurn Film Festival and Kurzfilmtage Winterthur.
The producers are Thomas Reichlin and Britta Rindelaub at Alva Film. The coproducers are Büchi and Michael Scheuplein and Clotilde Wüthrich at Territoires Sensibles.