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SWITZERLAND: Fribourg’s FIFF, the festival opened to the world with film society movement soul

Fribourg’s FIFF, the festival opened to the world with film society movement soul

The contest who discovers film jewels with sensitivity, social awareness and humanity that dignifies filmmakers and cinematographies of around the World…

The Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) has meant for me something more than a cinematography experience. The cliches about Switzerland and its society that I have in my mind before I put aside quickly just in my arrival to the city. Nicolas, a young member of the FIFF’s staff, pick me up with a big smile. He is there, on the bottom of the train platform access ramp of that open air rail station. We begin to talk in French. He speaks Italian and Spanish too. Little by little we mix different languages without problem. This multi-lingual aspect will be a constant during all the days that I will pass there.

With friendliness and attention he takes me until the hotel, a building with a rectangular shape which becomes in one of the Fribourg’s highest edifices, with the permission of the Saint Nicolas Cathedral tower bell which it is topped with a crown of ornamented irregular pinnacles instead of the typical architecture of other belfries in the zone that they are topped by a conical nose.

Fribourg has one of the most preserved Swiss urban cores. The oldest part is located in the deep of a natural depression where the river flows. It is bordered by cliffs that protect it from the invasions. As we descend the inclined streets we usher in its old history, compounded by different layers of various ages. It is possible to find in Fribourg architectonic references of several artistic styles like Contemporary, Renaissance, Baroque, Medieval… Its high ramparts, with surveillance towers, have more than two kilometers of length.

Fribourg is one of the places where the Swiss stop talking German and they begin talking French. Half of the city talks German and the other riverside of Sarine river, when we cross the Berna Bridge which is medieval and built by wood, the city talks French. The presence of the Catholic Church is still very important everywhere. Numerous churches and monasteries show it, included one that it is dedicated to Malt Order. An old city with a lot of layers of history that it contrasts with its university life, the University is located in the higher and modern part. The young are the majority inhabitants of this city, and this configures it an especial character, renovator, opened and luminous. All the members of the organization that I have known, workers and volunteers, are impregnated with this spirit of Fribourg that it surrounds with cordiality the FIFF.


The spaces

All the Festival is developed in the same zone of the city, in its newest and highest part. The Arena Cinemas are located in the basement of the Manor commercial centre, a Swiss company that has centres in the main Swiss cities. Arena cinemas rely on 6 projection theatres for the FIFF. In front of them, we found l’Equilibre, the big theatre of the city, a controversial building for its contemporary architecture. In its ground floor is located the Tourist Office too. This theatre will be the scenario of the closing ceremony. I could not imagine in that moment that I should announce in French the verdict of the Jury of the International Federation of Film Societies.

Near from here, only a 200 meters, is located the main centre of the festival, l’Ancienne Gare, and old rail station reconverted into a restaurant call, Le Nouveau Monde, it is a popular bar between the Fribourgeois where they gather there when the weather is good and the afternoons are sunny. The last position, and the most symbolic, I would dare to say, is the Rex Cinema, a cinema theatre of the old times, the main room is big, nevertheless it has two smaller projection room. Rex breaths cinema for everywhere. The main projection room has the spirit of the old cinemas, these that had only one theatre. The drawings are painted like graffiti style in its beige colour walls. Their illustrate film scenes that they are a free interpretation, and Naif too, of charismatic characters which have change the course of the cinema’s history. These are the scenarios of this prodigious festival.


The Festival

The contest has a long tradition. 31 editions dedicate to the nice habit of showing the cultural and cinematographical worldwide diversity. The phantoms and the spirits have been the cross-cutting subject in this 31st edition. Ten days of cinema, from March 31st to April 8th. 7 theatres are working from noon to midnight. Near 200 hundred films in different sections, 12 in de International Competition of feature films. Several indispensable movies in the section of the greatest genre film-makers. Other section dedicate to New Territories. Nepal has been leading country, the invited this year. Special sessions to homage film-makers and Master classes complete an interesting program, varied and eclectic specially in the festive sections out of the competition.

The main section marks the intentions line of the festival. 12 films of cinematographies of several countries: Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan, Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, Syria, India, Laos, Russia, Malaysia and South Korea. Thierry Tobin, the artistic director, comments me that this selection is from 2000 candidate films. And without doubt, I can attest, it is an exquisite final selection. Some controversial movie or curious. It is therefore right and proper that the films will be documentaries and fiction feature films, and that they are not be separated in different sections. All the films have a thing in common: one humanitarian or social component. Viewing the films, the spectator enters directly into the culture and contemporary history of everyone of the countries in the international competition.


The verdict of the Jury of the International Film Federation of Film Societies

Three european who are members of film societies have been the members of the Jury. Vanessa Elges, from Manheim municipal film society, Germany, Lucas Vicher, from Kino film society of Basel, Switzerland, and myself, Joaquim Roqué, from the film society called Amics dels Amics del cinema de la Vall de Ribes, of Ribes de Freser, Catalunya. The Don Quijote Award is given to the films that believe in the utopia and show another perspective in different festivals of the world.

The film that we have chosen shows wonderful how the society can manage and balance the opposite aspects of life like tradition versus modernity, rural versus urban, young versus elderly and the different political positions in a local village. The film carries us through different emotions, its path makes us smile, laugh, annoy, fall in love, hate, fair and finally it makes to believe that a new equitable and fair society is possible. For these reasons the winner of Don Quijote Award goes to WHITE SUN, directed by Deepak Rauniyar, a coproduction between Nepal, Qatar and Netherlands.


Also, we give a SPECIAL MENTION to another film, that we want reward for its special sensitivity, for showing us how powerful can be the silences and meditative moments between the main characters to explain a great story, for teaching us how can be narrate with an unconventional manner a thriller film that runs away of the clichés, and finally for this cinematography, that reveals a strong background insight the Bhutan society, full of social and political complex issues. The SPECIAL MENTION of the Jury of the International Film Societies Federation goes to HONEYGIVER AMONG THE DOGS, directed by Dechen Roder.



The personal experience

If somebody is a member of a film society, he or she knows that the audience has rights for being a spectator. The real power of its rights is known if you are living the FIFF. Few times a contest has so cultures diversity in its official competition, and unfortunately in our screens, the ordinary spectator has not the chance to access to so many works of so many places. In addition, we are able to contrast the different experiences of other film societies members, then, oneself pay attention that the film society movement and its sensitivity has a global sense.

The FIFF is not only a festival opened to the World, but also Fribourg, and Switzerland, become a great gateway for the other cultures and cinematographies. These 10 FIFF days have been specially convulsive around the World: Syria bombings with chemical weapons, terrorist attacks in Stockholm, St Petersburg’s underground, Coptic churches in Egypt or the ISIS attack to Tilkrit… The World increases daily its intolerance and its violence, and the hopelessness can be dragged down.

Otherwise, in Fribourg, as the same time, other reality is much promising. It happens too. I would be good that other FIFF would happen all over. The things will be definitively better. I feel lucky for having the possibility of living it, and without doubt, I will always carry this experience inside me.

I am grateful to the FIFF for inviting us and I am grateful to the FICC for maintaining and for promoting an award like Don Quijote Prize. The utopia is possible.

Joaquim Roqué Paret

Member of de film society of the Amics del cinema de la Vall de Ribes

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2017 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .


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