Lichtspieler – How Lavanchy-Clarke brought Switzerland to the cinema

Wir sind im Jahr 1896. Veränderung liegt in der Luft. Am Horizont des Fin de siècle dämmert die Moderne. Epochale Entdeckungen, Erfindungen und Kunstströmungen schaffen neue Realitäten, entlarven die 'Belle Epoque' als nur The 'Gilded Age'. And in the midst of this threshold stands the famous 'Cinématographe' of the Lumière brothers, which conquers the entire globe within a year from Lyon. But at the very beginning of this triumphant advance of film were not only Edison and the Lumière, but also an unbelievably dazzling Swiss figure, the most misunderstood pioneer in our country's recent media history. This is the self-made man François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke, who, on the occasion of the second Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva in 1896, brought Switzerland to his cinema, which he ran there in his pavilion. Why and how this enterprising marketing talent was the first to record and also show moving pictures throughout Switzerland is a fascinating story with the ingredients 'Sunlight' soap, chocolate, Egypt mission, Red Cross, international Geneva banking and care for the blind.

Lavanchy's biography of the period in his life when he was on the road with the 'Cinématographe' sheds new light on the reality of life for the Swiss two generations after the founding of the federal state, but also on our own media history. The period of upheaval at the turn of the century before last, which sometimes seems like déjà vu to us today, can be told more interestingly through no other person than through the ingenious Monsieur François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke and his films, around 50 of which have been rediscovered in a Paris archive. Thanks to state-of-the-art image processing technology, they can now be shown to the general public again for the first time since 1898: As moving documents of a time that has disappeared for five generations but still resonates. And as the fundamental work of a man who was the only pioneer of international early cinema to be versed in all the ingredients that make up the composite medium of "cinematography": chronophotography, automaton technology, the chemical industry, banking, campaign marketing and entertainment.

➔ To the research project

Category: Documentary film
By: Hansmartin Siegrist
Status: in evaluation
Production year: 2021

Language: Original language/subtitles
Subtitles: D and F
Duration: 102 min
Format: Full HD, DCP
Sound: 5.1 Surround


Script & Direction
Hansmartin Siegrist

Reinhard Manz & Andreas Weber

Reinhard Manz

Andreas Weber

Absolute Trio

animation & graphics
Dirk Koy

sound design
Jascha Dormann