Tribute to Reni Mertens and Walter Marti

Resonance: Embracing the future with Reni Mertens & Walter Marti


Starting in the 1960s, Reni Martens and Walter Marti gave rise to an avantgarde documentary oeuvre, whose formal variety, urgency and beauty inspire us to this very day. 20 years after their deaths, Bildrausch is honouring the pioneers of young Swiss cinema with a tribute programme. The special programme Resonance: Embracing the Future with Reni Mertens & Walter Marti is dedicated to the most important milestones of the auteur couple, who influenced an entire generation of Swiss filmmakers through their activities as directors, producers and mentors.


After establishing their production company Teleproduction in 1953, Reni Mertens (1918-2000) and Walter Marti (1923-1999) made around 20 documentaries over a period of four decades – against all odds. At a time when Swiss public funding for films was still in its infancy, they declared the cinema of their fathers as dead and represented a decidedly left-wing stance with their equally political and poetic films. Especially Walter Marti had a reputation for being a highly polemical companion. For Mertens and Marti, every film and every topic demanded a different approach and a unique aesthetic form – and yet all their works gave rise to that very central question that points to the essence of all things, and which lets the films tower above the time they were made in. The result is an equally radical and maladjusted, as well as clear-sighted, poetic and deeply humanistic oeuvre.


Bildrausch presents four long documentaries by the duo, from the startling feature film debut Ursula oder das unwerte Leben (1966) to the last, multiple award-winning opus Requiem (1992) – a thematic and formal cross-section, which also includes Die Selbstzerstörung des Walter Matthias Diggelmann (1974) and Héritage (1980). The short film programme The Continent Mertens and Marti, the world premiere of the digitally restored copies of Les apprentis by Alain Tanner (1964) and Do it yourself by Erich Langjahr (1982) as well as Le Pèlé (Moritz de Hadeln, 1963) – works, which were co-written or produced by Mertens and Marti – will also be shown.


Numerous companions and friends have announced their participation at film talks and a panel discussion, including the Swiss directors Erich Langjahr, Rolf Lyssy and Fredi M. Murer, the Austrian filmmaker Michael Pilz, the publicist Clara Obermüller and the journalist Alex Bänninger, the cinematographer Urs Thoenen, the former festival director Moritz de Hadeln and the daughter of Reni Mertens, Marina Mertens, as well as Frédéric Maire, the head of the Swiss Film Archive.