Swiss Documentary Festival Visions du Réel Unveils Selection of 165 Films, Including 88 World Premieres

Swiss documentary film festival Visions du Réel has unveiled the program for its 55th edition, which includes 10 first films out of 15 in the main international competition, cementing its reputation as a springboard for emerging talent.

The official selection includes 165 films from 50 countries and no fewer than 88 world premieres, making VdR the place to be in April on the international non-fiction film calendar.

Key figures from the world of cinema will be attending including outgoing Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian in the main competition jury, Argentine director and screenwriter Martín Rejtman (“The Practice,” “Silvia Prieto,” “The Magic Gloves”) with his latest film “Riders” in the Burning Lights section, and celebrated French author Christine Angot with her debut film “Une Famille,” which premiered in Berlin.

This year’s opening film is Juan Palacios and Sofie Johannesen’s “As the Tide Comes In,” which has been touring the festival circuit since opening at IDFA. Guests of honor include acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke, American author and director John Wilson and French director Alice Diop, to the delight of VdR artistic director Emilie Bujès.

“It’s a great honor to receive Jia Zhang-Ke – he hasn’t been travelling since Covid, so it feels very special for us that he is coming, just like Lucrecia Martel last year – someone who is so rare – it is a joy to have directors who are seen less often,” she told Variety. “We are obviously very excited about Alice Diop: she is someone who has been working very politically in non-fiction and pushing the borders of fiction, and having the honor of John Wilson as a guest allows us to acknowledge different practices, formats, rhythms.”

Bujès also welcomed a strong Swiss presence in competition following two consecutive wins by Switzerland in the past editions (Peter Mettler’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” in 2023 and Tizian Büchi’s “Like an Island” in 2022).

This includes three Swiss co-productions in the international section by the likes of up-and-coming filmmaker Nicole Vögele (“Mrs Loosli,” “Nebel”) with “The Landscape and the Fury” about migrants in a Bosnian-Croatian border region, and established director Pierre-François Sauter (“Calabria,” “Face au Juge”) with “Far West,” as well as two Swiss productions in the more experimental Burning Lights competition.

For several directors screening their debut features in the main competition, it will not be a first visit to the town of Nyon in Switzerland, which hosts the festival: a number have already made the trip in previous years to present their works as projects in the festival’s industry section.

Such is the case of Ukraine’s Maria Stoianova with “Fragments of Ice” (VdR-Rough Cut Lab, 2022), which mixes archival footage of her figure skater father in Soviet times with pictures he shot in the West, or Nelson Makengo’s “Rising up at Night” (Works in Progress, 2023), a nocturnal fresco of the people of Kinshasa in search of light, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale.

In what Bujès described as a “darker” selection than previous editions, the question of conflict is omnipresent, in films like Palestinian director Anas Zawahri’s debut feature length film “My Memory Is Full of Ghosts,” which retraces the past and the present in the city of Homs, or “In Limbo” by Ukrainian director Alina Maksimenko, a huis clos where she takes refuge in her parents village as the Russian invasion reaches Kiev.

Among the more experimental, hybrid films that VdR is known for, notably from young filmmakers in the Opening Scenes section, Bujès was also keen to underline works that “playfully use languages related to fiction or science fiction,” including animation (“Apoleon” by Amir Youssef), or films exploring AI (“512×512” by Arthur Chopin).

Besides Chatrian in the main competition jury are Swiss filmmaker Carmen Jaquier (“Thunder,” Switzerland’s pick for the 2023 Oscars) and producer Tunisian Dora Bouchoucha (“Satin Rouge,” “Body,” “Hedi”).

The 55th edition of Visions du Réel runs in Nyon from April 12 through April 21.

Find the films in the three main competition sections below.

International Feature Film Competition
“Apple Cider Vinegar” by Sofie Benoot, Belgium/Netherlands, World Premiere
“Fragments of Ice” by Maria Stoianova, Ukraine/Norway, World Premiere
“Far West” by Pierre-François Sauter, Switzerland/Portugal, World Premiere
“In Limbo” by Alina Maksimenko, Poland, World Premiere
“Kamay” by Ilyas Yourish and Shahrokh Bikaran, Afghanistan/Germany/Belgium/France, World Premiere
“My Memory Is Full of Ghosts” by Anas Zawahri, Syria, World Premiere
“Mother Vera” by Cécile Embleton and Alys Tomlinson, United Kingdom, World Premiere
“Okurimono” by Laurence Lévesque, Canada, World Premiere
“Rising Up at Night” by Nelson Makengo, Germany/Belgium/Burkina Faso/Qatar/Democratic Republic of the Congo, International Premiere
“The Landscape and the Fury” by Nicole Vögele, Switzerland, World Premiere
“The Song of Others” by Vadim Jendreyko, Switzerland, World Premiere
“The Return of the Projectionist” by Orkhan Aghazadeh, Germany/France, World Premiere
“To Our Friends” by Adrián Orr, Spain/Portugal, World Premiere
“Where the Trees Bear Meat” by Alexis Franco, Argentina/Spain/United States, World Premiere
“We Are Inside” by Farah Kassem, Lebanon/Qatar/Denmark, World Premiere

Burning Lights
“A Fidai Film” by Kamal Aljafari, Palestine/Germany, World Premiere
“Billy” by Lawrence Côté-Collins, Canada, World Premiere
“After the Snowmelt” by Lo Yi-Shan, Taiwan/Japan, World Premiere
“Cambium” by Maddi Barber and Marina Lameiro, Spain, World Premiere
“Carropasajero” by Juan Pablo Polanco Carranza and Cesar Alejandro Jaimes, Colombia/Germany, World Premiere
“La Duna” by Emerson Culurgioni and Stefanie Schroeder, Germany, World Premiere
“Ever Since I Knew Myself” by Maka Gogaladze, Georgia, World Premiere
“Les Miennes” by Samira El Mouzghibati, Belgium/France, World Premiere
“Preparations for a Miracle” by Tobias Nölle, Switzerland/Germany, World Premiere
“Riders” by Martín Rejtman, Argentina/Portugal/Venezuela, World Premiere
“(Revolution, Fulfil Your Promise) Red Love” by Dora García, Mexico/Spain/Norway/Portugal, World Premiere
“Shahid” by Narges Kalhor, Germany, International Premiere
“Tamina – Will There Ever Be What Used to Be?” by Beat Oswald, Lena Hatebur and Samuel Weniger, Switzerland, World Premiere
“The Diary of a Sky” by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lebanon, Festival World Premiere
“The Dells” by Nellie Kluz, United States, World Premiere
“The Language of Fire” by Tarek Sami, Algeria/France/Qatar, World Premiere

National Competition
“An Ordinary Life” by Alexander Kuznetsov, France/Switzerland/United States, World Premiere
“Au Revoir Siam” by Domenico Singha Pedroli, France/Switzerland, World Premiere
“Brunaupark” by Felix Hergert and Dominik Zietlow, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Didy” by Gaël Kamilindi and François-Xavier Destors, Switzerland/France/Rwanda, World Premiere
“Everything Is Temporary” by Juliette Klinke, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Mes amis espagnols” by Adrien Bordone, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Feu Feu Feu” by Pauline Jeanbourquin, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Muzungu” by Ben Donateo and Michel Passos Zylberberg, Switzerland, World Premiere
“Sauve qui peut” by Alexe Poukine, Belgium/Switzerland/France, International Premiere
“Valentina and the MUOSters” by Francesca Scalisi, Switzerland/Italy, World Premiere
“The Miracle of Almería,” Collective work, Belgium/Switzerland/Netherlands, World Premiere

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