From the big screen to the small screen: Teleclub and Swisscom are committed to bringing Swiss-made films to the people. Moreover – Teleclub is in fact one of Switzerland's biggest private sponsors of Swiss filmmaking.
Roger Baur, 04 October 2018
It’s not unusual for Solothurn to be the launching pad for a good film. That's because the Solothurn Film Festival (SFT) plays host both to the latest blockbusters as well as lesser known premières. Every January, exciting new talent rubs shoulders with established names. As the main sponsor of the event, Swisscom is committed to continuing this ethos for the years to come. A fruitful partnership. Today in Switzerland, Swisscom and Teleclub already offer the Swiss film industry an end-to-end audiovisual value chain.
Swisscom has been supporting Swiss filmmaking for over 20 years; as the main sponsor of the Locarno Film Festival, and now also as the sponsor of the Solothurn Film Festival (SFT).
This is quite unusual for such a small country. What it means in practice is everything, from a film's cinema release in the Kitag cinemas to its availability on demand at Swisscom TV through to its Teleclub première, is offered through domestic providers and local contact persons. As Stefan Nünlist, Head of Group Communications at Swisscom and responsible for the company's sponsorship of Solothurn, explains; “For us as a Swiss company and Teleclub as a Swiss broadcaster, a diverse Swiss film industry is very much in our interests. This is why we actively promote it across all channels.” It is also about preventing the decline of the domestic filmmaking industry in the face of big-budget international productions. He gives Swisscom TV as an example.
Through Teleclub on Demand, Swisscom TV offers a wide selection of Swiss films.
“We employ Swiss editors to scout the television programmes and videos on demand, create descriptions and draft editorial articles. We therefore play an active role in highlighting quality content – and these tips are shown directly on the screens of our 1.5 million customers.” Swisscom actively endeavours to give Swiss film the platform it deserves in other areas too, such as on Bluewin.ch or through its partnership with the Locarno Film Festival. According to Nünlist, Swisscom also sees its involvement as culturally and politically significant:
“Making home-grown films is an extremely important expression of our Swiss culture and identity. Films speak our hearts.”
Teleclub has long played an important role in funding new films. The broadcaster has to invest four percent of its earnings in Swiss filmmaking. An obligation that, incidentally, does not apply to international streaming or pay TV providers. Over the years, Teleclub has therefore funded a large number of Swiss productions: These include films such as “Children of the Open Road” (1991), “Beresina” (1998), “Rascals on the Road” (2004), “Heidi” (2014) and most recently the new film by famous Swiss director Michael Steiner, “Wolkenbruchs wunderliche Reise in die Arme einer Schickse” (Wolkenbruch's Wondrous Journey into the Arms of a Shiksa), which was recently premièred at the Kitag cinema Corso as part of the Zurich Film Festival. Even when it was first launched in 1982, Europe's first pay TV broadcaster drew greater attention to Swiss feature films. This was because, even though Switzerland (apart from the Basel region) had almost complete cable coverage at the time, feature films on television were a rarity: There were days when not one of the around eleven channels broadcast a feature film. Teleclub CEO Willy Heinzelmann: “SRG was formerly the only provider to broadcast Swiss feature films. The fact that there was now a second, albeit still very small, provider certainly helped to lend new momentum to the Swiss feature film industry.”
A selection of Swiss films that were made with the support of Swisscom and Teleclub.
Coincidence or not, the Swiss film industry in the 1980s saw a boost of innovation and broached more wide-ranging topics, culminating, in 1991, with an Oscar for Xavier Koller’s “Journey of Hope”. A number of new distribution channels also appeared at around this time – Swisscom TV, for example, which from 2006 offered, for the first time, a convenient ‘on demand’ service for the mainstream. “People in Switzerland today perhaps do not realise just how significant this development was,” comments Willy Heinzelmann. “It was this that helped to ensure the continued premium quality of Swiss films. They were never consigned to a pirate platform or the depths of a giant streaming provider. No, Swiss-made films were and remain true works of art with a Swiss flavour that are valued on their own merits.”