When the films go to oblivion

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The question of the future of films is not new, but it was accentuated around fifteen years ago with the switch to digital, the structuring of the heritage film market and the political as well as cultural will to restore and digitize film heritage. Rights are assigned and often have expiry dates. Who says deadline, says renewal. And therefore forgetfulness. And therefore loss.

Where are the negatives? Who owns the rights? What happened to the historic production and distribution companies? Frédéric Maire, director of the Cinémathèque, sums up our “Swiss problem”: there is hardly any industry. “The only company that can boast a long history and a real catalog of distribution and rights is Praesens-Film in Zurich. They are the only ones. For the rest, apart from a few companies founded in the 1970s and 1980s which still exist thanks to their founders, these are small companies that have produced a few films, often created by filmmakers or collectives, many of which have disappeared. They had become producers for their own work, to help others, and did not have an industrial or catalog concern. ”