16 mm, the most versatile film format of all time, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The format has been used in every conceivable context: for army propaganda and educational films, for advertising and feature-length documentaries. 16 mm was also considered the ideal format for experimental film. And let’s not forget the countless hours of footage from private households. This programme presents a selection of productions that have a connection to Switzerland and that reflect the diversity of the format.
Jacques Boolski / Switzerland 1936 / 21' / black & white / German / Doc
A collective film made by the Club Cinéamateurs de Lausanne, shortly after the club's foundation in 1933. Jacques Boolski, one of the collaborators on the film, was the inventor of the Bolex camera (the Bolex H16 became the «Rolls Royce» among cameras), an important Swiss contribution to the successful history of 16 mm. The film shows the joys and sorrows of working as an amateur filmmaker in 1936.
HHK Schoenherr / Switzerland 1970 / 24'3" / black & white / German / Exp
A: Film makes you blind. B: Film is material. C: Film is caviar. D: Film is paper. E: Film is true – is it not? An experimental intermission film.
Bilder aus der Sahara
Margret Fusbahn / Switzerland 1937 / 18'18" / black & white / German / Doc
This compilation comes from the holdings of the Swiss Working Group for Educational Cinematography (SAFU). The film was restored by the Lichtspiel Cinematheque with the support of Memoriav in 2022. Detailed research is still outstanding. According to a booklet, the footage was shot by St. Gallen aviation pioneer Margret Fusbahn (or Fussbahn) on a car expedition she undertook with her friend, artist Trudi Schneebeli from Rorschach. The editing and intertitles in the present version, however, are by a certain Dr. H. Liniger, Basel. The cinematography as well as the intertitles reflect the spirit of the 1930s.
Isa Hesse-Rabinovitch / Switzerland 1969 / 6'15" / colour / no dialogue / Exp
The first film by Isa Hesse-Rabinovitch, a key figure of the first generation of women filmmakers. She remained faithful to the 16 mm format until she also began working with video in the 1980s. The sketch of Venice was accompanied by music from Guy Magey. In 2010, the film was part of the large-scale ZHdK restoration project Swiss Film Experiments, supported by Memoriav.
Winterthurer Kadetten Film
Robert Ernst / Switzerland 1950 / 8'27" / colour/black & white / German / Doc
The Winterthur architect Robert Ernst, from whom a private 35 mm film screened at Kurzfilmtage a few years ago, shot on 16 mm beginning around 1937. His films were already in an advanced state of decay when they were restored at the Lichtspiel Cinematheque in 2017. This film contains a range of coloured footage, sometimes heavily decayed, sometimes wonderfully preserved.
Switzerland 1948 / 4' / colour/black & white / French / Doc
Ovomaltine helps in almost every situation, as this undated advertisement from the Wander company's holdings in the Lichtspiel Cinematheque tells us. The only known surviving copy features a hand-coloured part in a short sequence, which makes it even more unusual.
Antenne Spezial vom 21.07.1969
Switzerland 1969 / 3'15" / black & white / German / Doc
This broadcast reports on the different ways in which Switzerland participated in the moon landing: from a special alarm clock made by the Omega company to a musical composition. We're only showing the part that concerns 16 mm: the moon landing was filmed on 16 mm, with lenses from the Kern company in Aarau, for which a special glue had to be developed.
Switzerland 1932 / 9' / black & white / German / Doc
This film was produced in the 1930s by the Basel Education Department and, according to a subtitle, shows something «From the activities of the School Welfare Office»: a class of girls whose lessons are transferred to the countryside for three weeks and who learn all sorts of useful things there. In 2016, the Lichtspiel Cinematheque received several negatives of educational films on the work of the School Welfare Office and restored them in 2022 with the support of Memoriav. Detailed research on the film’s production and screening context is still pending. Intertitles from the Lips company in Basel suggest that they may have produced the film, and it is possible that it was originally shot on 35 mm. This, too, is part of the history of 16 mm: the surviving version is this 16 mm duplicate negative, of which we are showing a digital copy.
Georges Dufaux / Switzerland 1980 / 5' / colour / no dialogue / Ani
Georges Dufaux, film lab technician at Schwarz in Ostermundigen, reliably produced one film a year over a long period of time. His professionally produced film and book for and about projectionists are legendary. According to his own statements, he was an amateur in the area of animation. We are showing a film of his featuring mushrooms – a charming ballet in the woods.