Fredi M. Murer – magician and key figure in Swiss cinema
Every few years, when critics vote on which is the best Swiss film of all time, “Höhenfeuer” dominates these polls with unrivalled regularity. This film is a national cinematic classic, a seemingly ageless work with the dimensions of a Greek tragedy.
Fredi M. Murer is a key figure in Swiss cinema, a filmmaker and craftsman from analogue times and, as a feature-film documentarian and documentary-feature filmmaker, an ethnologist in his own country. The mysticism and magic of the alpine world have left their mark on him. He is not only able to create narrative magic with his films, but also enchant international audiences, as was indeed the case on the Piazza Grande in Locarno when he received the “Pardo alla carriera” for his oeuvre in summer 2019.
Having grown up in a family of eight in Nidwalden and Altdorf (Uri) and completing his studies at the Zurich School of Design, Murer started out experimentally with the ambition of reinventing the art of film. The spirit of optimism in a still small industry full of self-taught filmmakers at that time had a profound influence on him. When asked about his beginnings at the age of 22, he says that he was a “fortunate dilettante”. There followed numerous films and documentaries. At the age of 75, he declared his life’s work complete. Since then, he has kept his films and the many sketchbooks and drawings, his second passion, alive in his tower studio in Zurich.
Fredi M. Murer was never at a loss for critical statements, especially about film policies. He believes that too much emphasis is placed on script conventions these days, instead of trusting experienced directors. That is why he no longer wants to make films. For years he was president of the Association of Film Creators and later the first president of the Swiss Film Academy.