Max Bill – the Master's Vision

A film by Erich Schmid

Max Bill (1908-1994) was arguably the most important Swiss artist of the 20th century. His background was the blue collar town of Winterthur near Zürich. During his lifetime he was a rebel - today he lives ever present on the upper spheres of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His name stands for a whole avant-garde life-work, which is firmly focussed on the future, which bears a social responsibility and which intrinsically contains an engaged political message. What mattered for Max Bill was the creation of our environment and a green consciousness, which is currently of incredible imminence.
For all those who want to understand Bill's oeuvre in relation to his biography, Erich Schmid has directed documentary film «bill - the master's vision». For six years he has been working at this 35mm documentary feature film, in order to open up eyes and minds for many unknown facts about Max Bill for the big screen. That much can already be said: It's a highly potent mix of arts, aesthetics and politics. Max Bill - the master's vision will be released in cinemas in Switzerland from 11th September 2008. (Please keep checking this website for more information).


Ein Film von Erich Schmid

Stateless

Klaus Rózsa, Photographer

Klaus Rozsa, a well-known and politically active photographer, lived in Zurich for decades as a stateless individual. All of his applications for naturalisation were refused on political grounds. In 1956 he fled Hungary, growing up in Switzerland with a Jewish father who had survived Auschwitz and Dachau. Due to the extreme proximity of such a fate, the camera led him repeatedly to places where injustice was done. It was this particular quality of his camerawork that proved fateful for him. State Security writes: “By recording police abuse, he interfered with the work of the police.” The latter harassed and abused him so frequently that he emigrated to Hungary in 2008, where he then entered into fresh confrontations.


A film by Erich Schmid

Meier 19

The policemen's wages were stolen from the Zurich police headquarters. Police inspector Meier 19 discovered that the head of the crime squad which was leading the investigation of the case gave a fake alibi. But instead of investigating the false alibi inspector Meier 19 was imprisoned, his wife demanded the divorce and his friends abandoned him. But the revolutionary youth movement of 1968 supported Meier 19 who became a symbol of the battle against the established order and corruption while his life fell apart like in a classical tragedy.


Ein Film von Erich Schmid

He called himself Surava

The biography of Peter Hirsch, alias Surava, who made history with the weekly paper «Die Nation» as a symbol of resistance dur­ing World War II. But arrest, imprison­ment, antisemitism and an outrageous defamation plunged him into misfor­tune. It was enough that he was origi­nally called Hans Werner Hirsch – a name with a Jewish ring to it. The Federal Court refused to let him use his pseudonym Surava because of its «un‑Swiss spelling». «It was his sense of justice that was his downfall», says Oskar Reck, who knew Surava. Surava lived hidden behind his pseudonym in Oberrieden as a writer and editor for 45 years, and it was not until 1991 that he revealed the secret that surrounded him.


Ein Film von Erich Schmid

Jeevan

Auf dem Dorfplatz des Gemeindezentrums von Regensdorf schlägt ein Schweizer Ex-Boxchampion einen tamilischen Asylbewerber mit einem einzigen Faustschlag tot, nachdem er ihn rassistisch beschimpft hatte. Es war Sommer 1990. Der Tamile stammte aus dem srilankischen Norden.
Tausende reagierten mit Trauer und Protest gegen den zunehmenden Rassismus in der Schweiz.als die Überführung der Leiche in die Heimat an den örtlichen Kriegshandlungen scheiterte, reiste der Filmemacher Erich Schmid mit Jeevans Asche nach Sri Lanka und traf mitten im Kriegsgebiet die Mutter von Jeevan.
Der Film erzählt auf dem einstigen Fluchtweg von Jeevan dessen Lebensgeschichte Rückwärts, von Regensdorf bis Chavakachcheri.


A film by Erich Schmid

Confessions in Mamak

A delegation of observers went to the mass-trials conducted 1988 by the special military tribunals in Turkey.
Erich Schmid documented the course of the trials with his camera, and together with archives material, put together a 45-minute video-film. His eye-witness report gives us an up to the minute account of the Turkish prisoners' hunger strike.


A film by Erich Schmid

Indischer Frieden in Sri Lanka

im april 1988 hatte der eidgenössische delegierte für das flüchtlingswesen (dfw), peter arbenz, die ausschaffung von 1500 tamilischen asylbewerbern geplant. die offizielle begründung war: die lage in sri lanka sei für deren rückkehr «zumutbar». der journalist und autor erich schmid, der die bürgerkriegssituation seit 1983 verfolgte, zweifelte die «zumutbarkeit» aufgrund seiner eigenen quellen an und reiste mit der videokamera in den norden sri lankas. doch die indian peace keeping forces (ipkf) verhängten ausgangssperren von 18 bis 06 uhr und nahmen die video-equipe in haft, sobald sie aus dem hotel kamund liess sie erst kurz vor beginn der abendlichen ausgangssperre wieder frei. dennoch entstand (oft mit versteckter kamera) authentisches videomaterial, das aufsehen erregte und vom schweizer fernsehen ausgestrahlt wurde. der dfw peter arbenz sah von der ausschaffung tamilischer flüchtlinge ab und verfügte deren «vorläufige aufnahme».


A film by Erich Schmid