Two Years of “Pro Short” Short Film Association in Switzerland

Report

The Pro Short committee giving the (little) finger. From above left: Bruno Quiblier, Jela Hasler, Stella Händler, Nikola Nikola Ilić. Unten: John Canciani, Jasmin Basic, Corina Schwingruber, Tristan Aymon. Not on the photo: Elie Chapuis, Jenna Hasse, Valentina Zingg  © Pro Short / Locarno 2017

 

Two years ago, filmmakers, festival organisers and producers came together in January in Solothurn to found the Pro Short Swiss short film association. That August, a manifesto was released in Locarno. In it, Pro Short defined itself as a body representing the interests of Swiss short film and acting as a voice for it. Since then, Pro Short has filled a gap in Switzerland and been an advocate for short film within the film policy sphere, the various associations and the industry.

After it was founded, the Cinébulletin industry magazine commented as follows, »Swiss short film is doing well, yet its situation within the national institutions has deteriorated«[1], and described short film as a format forgotten by the Swiss film funding bodies.

Ten to fifteen years earlier, the situation did not look rosy as such, but certainly more promising. The Kurzfilmagentur Schweiz Swiss short film agency had been founded on the basis of similar models in other European countries, and the Short Film Section in Swiss Films, a promotion institution comparable to German Films, was undergoing expansion. And there were also success-orientated support and funding measures available for short films, similar to the reference film funding options available in Germany, provided in the context of the Succès Cinéma (premiums for box-office hits), Succès passage antenne (premiums for TV broadcasts) and Succès artistique (both with reference funding from the “Pacte de l’audiovisuel” Film-Television Agreement) programmes. Films up to 60 minutes were supported there. Unlike in the German funding system with its shorter film running time differentiations, in Switzerland the term short film only applies in the context of and related to festivals.

The Kurzfilmagentur Schweiz has long ceased to exist. Today, the shortfilm.ch URL takes the online viewer to Base Court in Lausanne, where its Kurzfilmevents (ShortFilmEvents) are curated. Its president is the former agency founder Philippe Clivaz. A further co-founder, Simon Koenig (managing director of the Filmbüro Zentralschweiz – Central Swiss Film Office – today), moved to the Short Film Section of Swiss Films since then. Today, however, this section only consists of one person, currently the short film consultant Sylvain Vaucher.

In the meantime, several former support measures for films up to 60 minutes in length from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK) and in the context of the Film-Television Agreement with the SRG/SSR broadcasting body were ended. And that happened soundlessly, more or less, as there was no lobby to stop it. Which is where Pro Short is stepping in. The association does not regard the deplorable developments mentioned above as necessarily being a targeted decision against short film, but rather a consequence of there being no body to represent the related interests and mount a concerted resistance to such cutbacks.

In this regard, Pro Short has pointed to the situation with animation film, which can also consist of short films and which has achieved a better position thanks to the commitment demonstrated by the GSFA Swiss Association of Animated Filmmakers.

The first thing Pro Short has tackled is the Swiss Film Prize, which is currently awarded in the categories “Best Short film”, “Best Graduation Film” and “Best Animated Film”. The opportunities to participate in it, as well as the films selected, are strictly limited and prevent the Film Prize from reflecting the actual situation (please see our prize-winner statistics below). With a festival listing (Succès Festival) required for films submitted and the student graduation film restrictions, among others, acting like a regimentation here. Which is what Pro Short would like to change with fairer category definitions.

Currently, Pro Short is also working on a proposal for better organised reference film funding from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK) in relation to the next funding period from 2020 onwards, based on the Swiss Cultural Funding Law (so-called message of culture  [2]) . Likewise, Pro Short is in discussions with the SRG/SSR public TV broadcasting body, aimed at clarifying whether the cancelled Succès passage antenne and Succès artistique premium systems for short films, or a comparable option, can be reintroduced. Furthermore, Pro Short is striving for an improvement in the current Succès Festival points system.

In addition to these concrete film policy tasks, Pro Short also wants to offer benefits to its members and use events to improve exchanges and networking within the short film scene.

Despite having existed for such a short time, the Pro Short association already had 90 members by the end of 2018. The membership is free-of-charge for film students, while the annual fees for professionals and institutions are between 50 and 500 Swiss francs.

Since this year, Pro Short has also been able to afford its own professional office. The publicist and festival curator Valentina Zingg was appointed its managing director, with the aim of supporting the voluntary board members.

 

Links

Pro Short Swiss short film associationPro Short

Swiss Films Support & Promotion Short Film

Base Court Lausanne

<small”Succès Cinéma” success-oriented film funding from the Swiss Federal Office of CultureSuccès Cinéma

BAK FPF funding/support platform FPF

 

Further information

Pro Short Board as of January 2019:

Jasmin Basic, Programmer, Producer, Geneva (President)
Corina Schwingruber Ilić, Filmmaker, Luzern (Vice-President)
Tristan Aymon, Filmmaker, Producer, Terrain Vague, Lausanne
Bruno Quiblier, Director, Base Court, Lausanne
Stella Händler, Producer, freihändler Filmproduktion company, Basel
John Canciani, Artistic Director, International Short Film Festival Winterthur, Board Member, Short Film Conference Winterthur
Elie Chaupuis, Animation Filmmaker, Producer, Hélium Film, Member of the GSFA Swiss Association of Animated Filmmakers
Jenna Hasse, Filmmaker, Actress, Lausanne, Paris
Nikola Ilić, Filmmaker, Luzern
Jela Hasler, Filmmaker, Zurich (Office ad interim)
Office: Valentina Zingg

Award-winner Statistics: Swiss Short Film in an International Comparison

Data are available from the 2018 prize-winners review just released, according to which Swiss films are in fifth place – after films from the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany – with the most awards globally. Only Belgium has achieved a similar success otherwise among the smaller countries, based on their population numbers. In fact this was already the case in the previous year. The short film productions that won the most awards in 2018 included the documentary ALL INCLUSIVE from Corina Schwingruber Ilić, the fiction film BONOBO from Zoel Aeschbacher, the animated work THE LITTLE BIRD AND THE CATERPILLAR from Lena von Döhren, the fiction film FACING MECCA from Jan-Eric Mack and the documentary LIGNE NOIR from Mark Olexa and Francesca Scalisi.

The previous year: AIRPORT from Michaela Müller, AU REVOIR BALTHAZAR from Rafael Sommerhalder, IN A NUTSHELL from Fabio Friedli and LA FEMME ET LE TGV from Timo von Gunten.

 

[1] “Damit der Kurzfilm nicht vergessen geht” So Short Film Does Not Slip into Oblivion, Pascaline Sordet, Cinebulletin 25.09.2017

[2] https://www.bak.admin.ch/bak/de/home/themen/kulturbotschaft.html