Pardo alla carriera 2019 to Fredi M. Murer
Twenty films, in a career stretching back over almost 60 years: a major filmography in step with – and often anticipating – periods of renewal in Swiss cinema. Since he first went into filmmaking, in Zurich in the 1960s, Fredi M. Murer has continued to be a modest, remarkable and committed personality, aloof from the bright lights of the entertainment world and impervious to the dictates of the box office.
His early work consisted of anti-conventional and anarchic film portraits, through which he discovered film not as a medium but as the very necessity of expression. Then he made Wir Bergler in den Bergen sind eigentlich nicht schuld, dass wir da sind (1974), a film that broke with the classic documentary codes and swept aside the commonplaces borrowed from pre-war Swiss cinema,that depicted mountains and pastoral life in their ontological certainties.
Zones (1979) was Murer’s first venture into fiction, for him an expedient to take an X-ray of reality using an immersive technique in which life is a film and the filmmaker an image. That same iconographical perspective is inherent in Alpine Fire (1985), a masterpiece in which his ethnographical gaze relentlessly evokes the unspeakable, as in a Greek tragedy. The film is a kind of synthesis of Murer’s own output and the recurrent themes of Swiss cinema: the conflict between father and son, the turmoil of adolescence, escape, realization of identity, the evocation of an archaic lifestyle.
Connecting the past of Swiss film to its future, in an attempt to establish a continuity still lacking in the Swiss movie-going public and its experience of cinema: this is the task which Murer has set himself in his late creative period, in a series of themed full-length fiction features: Vollmond (1998), which has the scale and scope of the mainstream, despite keeping to an auteur register; Vitus (2006), a manifestofor childhood that touched a broad audience; Now or Never (2014), a drama which has a kind of hidden diary embedded in its fiction.
Murer’s interest lies along the subtle confines between reality and artifice, in the timeless moment in which the world around us becomes, through artistic creativity, “something else”.