Swiss Films promotional agency to restructure in 2014.

The new head of national promotion agency Swiss Films says filmmakers should start thinking about how their film will be promoted from the minute they start working on it. “We’re trying to find out what the story will be at the beginning…promotion should be starting from day 1,” says Swiss Films director Catherine Ann Berger.

She wants Swiss Films to be able to work with directors and producers as they are making films, and in the editing room. “It’s trusting the experience of many people who have worked in the field for a long, long time.” She says getting world sales companies on board for Swiss films earlier can also help landing slots at major festivals.

It’s a change in attitude from how European arthouse filmmakers are accustomed to working. “It’s a different approach to European auteur filmmaking. They want to keep the reins as long as possible and maybe not even talk to world sales too early.”

Berger, who took the post in May, has a background in television, and has also worked as a freelance story consultant.

She plans to restructure Swiss Films early next year, with two main departments instead of the current three. The two will be festivals and markets and cultural programmes.

She wants Swiss Films to also “be matchmakers to bring people together. It’s about creating opportunities.”

She is bullish about the current state of filmmaking in Switzerland. “We have a great new generation, she says, pointing to filmmakers like Thomas Imbach, Andrea Staka and Ursula Meier.

“There is a group of filmmakers about 40-45 years old, they’ve done two to three films, they’ve had their experiences and have developed their own style of directing and storytelling,” Berger says. There is also a younger crop of directors such as Stop-Over director Kaveh Bakhtiari. “This new generation is part Iranian or part Yugoslavian, they bring their own perspective to filmmaking. They are very multicultural and this is the future.”

The Swiss of course also have a strong documentary tradition, and in fact this year’s Swiss entry for the foreign-language Oscar race is Markus Imhoof’s documentary More Than Honey. Christian Frei is also finishing his next documentary, Sleepless In New York (working title) about people getting over broken hearts.