As tradition has it, the first stop on the way of the DAFilms team to the festival locations of the 7-member documentary platform Doc Alliance was Nyon, Switzerland in late April. The festival Visions du Réel has woken the quiet town near Lake Geneva with its lively festival buzz wrapped in the traditional red colour for the 54th time. And we were there!
As tradition has it, the first stop on the way of the DAFilms team to the festival locations of the 7-member documentary platform Doc Alliance was Nyon, Switzerland in late April. The festival Visions du Réel has woken the quiet town near Lake Geneva with its lively festival buzz wrapped in the traditional red colour for the 54th time. The first time was in 1969 when the town was imbued with cinematic atmosphere by Swiss documentarist and photographer Moritz de Hadeln; a man whose founding signature style can also be deciphered in the birth and further life of other renowned festival feasts, such as the local Locarno IFF and Germany’s Berlinale.
Almost two hundred locals who help with the organization and smooth run of the festival as volunteers give the festival an infectious enthusiastic charm. The strong international professional audience, on the other hand, turns Nyon into a unique Babylon buzzing with various languages. This unique combination, completed by the ubiquitous view of the placid Lake Geneva and the proud, partly white peaks of the French Alps, keeps bringing new and ever younger audiences to Nyon each year. A demanding film selection that seeks no compromise in the art of documentary and a single industry programme for film professionals in Switzerland; these are the two highlights found in the modern history of the festival and appreciated by regular audiences as well as by film directors, producers and distributors.
The claim that what makes a festival is its team and audience has been proved this year as well. The vision of demanding days spent at important professional meetings, in dark video libraries and silent cinema halls was to be compensated by walks in quaint streets and parks in full spring bloom, with our eyes stuck on the majestic horizon of the Alps. However, Nyon was unexpectedly wrapped in a dark shroud, with a big black cloud sitting on top of the festival centre, freshly decorated by original red mobile cells, for most of the days. The festival visitors, too, started wrapping themselves in jackets and coats.
“As if there was an intellectual cloud sitting above Nyon,” said one of the visitors with amusement, alluding to the demanding character of some of the screened films. Whether the cloud above Nyon was an intellectual one or one of a different kind, the viewers did not lose their appetite to explore new themes and make new contacts. They, too, were literally sitting all around the town; at the festival bar, at the steps leading to the screening halls, at the benches of the main squares. These were the places where the four letters F I L M resounded, keeping the visitors awake, especially during evening social events. Film was discussed in the mornings at distributor meetings while upcoming films strived for attention at the pitching forum. The afternoons were reserved for screenings that were successful with the audiences; the evenings were dedicated to film premieres; while nights were there for surprising professional and personal encounters. F I L M, that also means another four letters in Switzerland: N Y O N, and we will be happy to be back in one year’s time. With or without clouds, yet always with a desire to see the red film town again.
For the DAFilms team Andrea
Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.