Sabine Boss and Pierre Monnard sign their names to the new SRF series Neumatt
- Produced by Zurich’s Zodiac Pictures together with Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), the series is created by Marianne Wendt based on an idea by Petra Volpe
Neumatt, the brand-new, hotly anticipated Swiss series composed of eight 47-minute episodes, which is set to be broadcast daily from 26 September on SRF’s main channel (as well as on Play Suisse and Play SRF), will enjoy its big screen debut at the Zurich Film Festival (on 25 September). The series is the brainchild of one of Switzerland’s most highly esteemed directors, Petra Volpe, who also gave us the multi-award-winning work The Divine Order [+see also:
interview: Petra Volpe
film profile] (among others), and was the creator of the mini-series Frieden (2020) which has already proved highly popular with Swiss TV audiences. As explained by Volpe, the idea arose from her discovery of the worryingly high suicide rate among farmers and her subsequent realisation of the pressing need to explore the daily lives of those living between rural settings and the city, and caught between onerous professional responsibilities and a healthy need to escape.
Without claiming documentary status, under the steady hands of Swiss cinema heavyweights Sabine Boss (I Am the Keeper [+see also:
interview: Sabine Boss
film profile]) and Pierre Monnard (Needle Park Baby [+see also:
film profile]) Neumatt manages to combine entertainment with a reflection on those in Switzerland who still make their living from farming, in zones sandwiched between rural and industrialised contexts. This need to explore life in Switzerland is characteristic of many series hailing from the country’s Romandy region (we’re thinking of Bulle, directed by Anne Deluz and Claudia Cardinale, for example, or Banking District courtesy of Fulvio Bernasconi), as well as the Swiss-German territories. The aim is to provide an alternative to the streaming behemoths’ offerings which don’t include any Swiss series.
Neumatt is a drama exploring the complex relationships playing out within a family who must come to terms with the suicide of the father figure who has left behind a farm on the verge of bankruptcy. The lynchpin for these eight episodes is Michi (Julian Koechlin), the eldest of the three Wyss children, who lives in a luxurious apartment in Zurich where he works as a financial consultant. Alongside his partner Joël, Michi leads a totally different life to that of his younger brother Lorenz (Jérôme Humm), who intends to continue the work begun by their father, despite the desperately precarious situation the farm is now in. But their sister Sarah (Sophie Hutter), who fantasises about getting rid of the farm and revamping her fitness studio, and their mother Katharina Wyss (Rachel Braunschweig), who dreams of freeing herself from the burden left by her husband and heading off into the sunset with local dairy director Martin (Roeland Wiesnekker), soon spice up the situation. And that’s without mention of the grandma, who has no intention of lying down and accepting decisions made by others.
Without stumbling into the trap of pure caricature when it comes to the portrayal of this stereotyped, rural world with kitsch overtones, Neumatt plays intelligently with clichés but never falls victim to them. Shot on a farm near Uster in Zurich’s Oberland, the series unfolds on the border between countryside and city, which is typical of Switzerland and its farmers, who are entrepreneurial, hard-working, hybrid and complex characters, transcending the clichéd view of them as uneducated and obtuse. Neumatt will enjoy its debut right after that of another long-awaited series, La chance de ta vie (8 episodes) by Chris Niemeyer, which is co-produced by RTS and IDIP Films, which also follows an unusual family and which can be seen weekly, from 9 September, on RTS1 and Play Suisse. Similarly much anticipated this year is Léa Fazer’s mini-series Sacha, likewise co-produced by RTS, though this time in league with RITA Production and ARTE. Shooting on this new psychological thriller, consisting of six 52-minute episodes, kicked off in Geneva on 3 September and is due to wrap at the end of November.
(Translated from Italian)
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