First Hand to release its first film in Swiss cinemas in January 2014.

Zurich based doc sales powerhouse First Hand Films has revealed the first titles it will release through its new Swiss theatrical distribution arm, which was set up earlier this year in partnership with Supermarket’s Olivier Mueller and Christian Ströhle.

And Who Taught You To Drive? (aka You Drive Me Crazy), Andrea Thiele’s feature doc about expats learning and re-learning how to drive in foreign countries, will mark First Hand Films’ first release in January 2014. It will go out in Swiss cinemas as You Drive Me Crazy.

“It is a fierce and well researched documentary but it is fun and with interesting characters,” Mueller told ScreenDaily.

The company’s second release, in early 2014, will be Service Included (Service Inbegriffe) by Eric Bergkraut. The doc, which played the Zurich Festival in September, takes viewers to various traditional pubs in the Italian, French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland in the course of a single day. These pubs have withstood the pressures of globalisation. A release on 30 to 40 screens is envisaged for next spring.

The company plans to release four to six films theatrically a year. Some will be titles already in its catalogue. Others will be new acquisitions made specifically for theatrical release.

Company CEO Esther van Messel has revealed that the new distribution arm will release selected fiction titles alongside its doc offerings.

“It (the new venture) is a great opportunity, Almost everything is in place. It’s not that big a step. A lot of the work has already been done when we acquire for international. The knowledge and the know how that Olivier and his partner Christian (at Supermarket) bring is exactly what was needed,” van Messel commented at IDFA last week.

Further down the line, First Hand Films is also planning to set up a theatrical distribution arm in Germany.
Supermarket has been brought on board by First Hand Films to coordinate the marketing and press activities of the new distribution arm.

“With the unbelievable increase in titles that we are facing since digitalisation, if you want to remain significant, you have to (from Switzerland) have a broader strategy in the German speaking territory,” Mueller explained the planned move into German releasing.