Pioneering Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner dies at 92

Prolific Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner, considered a pioneer of Switzerland's new wave film movement, died Sunday at the age of 92, his foundation said.

Pioneering Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner dies at 92
Alain Tanner during the 34th International Cannes Film Festival in 1981. Photo: AFP

“Alain Tanner was one of the beacons of Swiss cinema,” his foundation said in a statement issued in consultation with his family.

Tanner was an internationally renowned director with more than two dozen films to his name, who began his career in the late 1950s.

A contemporary of the French New Wave, he is credited with helping launch Switzerland’s own, smaller new wave in the 1970s, along with colleagues Miche Soutter, Claude Goretta, Jean-Louis Roy and Jean-Jacques Lagrange.

Their “Group of 5” spurred a renewal in Swiss films reflecting the era’s spirit of nonconformity.

Tanner’s first full-length feature film, “Charles, Dead or Alive”, which appeared in 1969, marked the beginning of politically engaged cinema in Switzerland.

That film, which tells the story of a businessman who decides to abandon mainstream capitalist life to take up a marginal existence on the fringe of society as student protests rage, won the top prize at the Locarono film festival.

Among his best-known films are “Jonas who will be 25 in the Year 2000,” from 1976 and “Light Years Away”, which won the Grand Prix at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.

On his foundation’s website, he is quoted as saying he felt lucky to have been born when he was.

“Over 50 years, during the second half of the last century, I lived through was probably the most engaging for cinema, with the questioning of the old styles, the break with old structures and the arrival of modernity,” he said.

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What’s on: Seven unmissable events in Switzerland this August

As summer continues, many festivals and other fun events take place throughout the country. This is what is happening in Switzerland in August.

What's on: Seven unmissable events in Switzerland this August

While all the other events are regional, one takes place in all of Switzerland:

The National Day, August 1st

On this day in 1291, the foundation of what would eventually become Switzerland was famously laid.

The official celebration takes place on the Rütli meadow in Uri, where  representatives of the three founding cantons – Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden – came together on this day in 1291 to swear the oath of allegiance and sign the Federal Chapter (and no, William Tell was not there).

During the official ceremony, the current Swiss president (this year it is Viola Amherd), addresses the nation and the Swiss national anthem is sung.

Elsewhere in the country, including in your local community, there are bonfires and fireworks. In some places, children parade through the streets with lanterns bearing the Swiss cross and their canton’s flag. There are parades with people in traditional costumes and with yodelling choirs, alphorns and flag-throwers.

The Great Alpine Festival, Riederalp, August 4th 

If you want to see something ‘typically Swiss’, then this annual Alp Festival will deliver, as it focuses on various customs and traditions of this Valais mountain community.

The highlight of the day is the grand parade through the village, featuring  various bands and beautifully decorated floats 

Floss Festival, Basel, August 6th – August 24th 

This open-air music festival, featuring local and international acts, takes place on a floating stage on the Rhine, with 50,000 spectators watching the artists from seats set up on the steps of the Kleinbasel river bank.

This link will show you how many seats are still available for each concert.

Locarno Film Festival, August 7th – August 17th 

This annual open-air event is Switzerland’s most famous cinema festival, which takes in the city’s Piazza Grande.

About 8,000 seats, along with one of the largest screens in the world, are set up for film enthusiasts.

This year, 18 films, including six world premieres, will be screened.

You can purchase the tickets here

Zurich Street Parade, August 10th

Touted as the World’s Largest Techno Party, it is a lively, high-vibe event with  thousands of music fans dancing on the streets of Zurich to the sounds of electro beats.

The 2-km parade starts at Utoquai in Zurich’s Seefeld district before rolling around Lake Zurich.

Zurich will also host two swimming events, which will hopfully bring a welcome relief in the midst of hot summer:
Zurich Limmat Swim, August 17th
As they do every year, swimmers from across Switzerland will gather in Zurich at noon to swim in the Limmat river where this activity is normally prohibited throughout the year.

If you’d like to snag one of the  tickets to this event, you will need to be quick. because only a limited number of spaces is available so the tickets tend to sell out quickly.

They go on sale three days in advance of the event from 5 pm sharp.

The alternative date for the swim (in case of bad weather on the 17th, is August 24th).

Zurich Seeüberquerung, August 21st

The second swimming event in the city is its annual Seeüberquerung (lake crossing).

The competitive event is reserved for good swimmers only, who will cross the distance of 1.5 km, starting at the Strandbad Mythenquai and ending at the Strandbad Tiefenbrunnen.

Ready? Go! Swimmers leave the start of the annual Lake Zurich crossing swimming event . Photo: Michael Buholzer / AFP

Tickets, which cost 25 francs per person, will go on sale on August 19th at noon.

READ MORE: Do people really swim to work in Zurich?