Film about Bruno Manser opens 15th ZFF

30. August 2019

BRUNO MANSER – DIE STIMME DES REGENWALDES, one of the year’s most anticipated films, will open the 15th Zurich Film Festival on September 26. The world premiere screening takes place in the presence of Swiss Federal President Ueli Maurer and the Mayor of Zurich Corine Mauch.



BRUNO MANSER – DIE STIMME DES REGENWALDES is Switzerland’s answer to APOCALYPSE NOW: after preparations spanning almost ten years, director Niklaus Hilber finally shot the adventurous life of environmental activist Bruno Manser (1954-2000) under dire conditions in the rainforest. He also employed a large lay-cast of Penan locals who communicate in their own language. With a budget of 6 million Swiss francs, this is the largest-scale Swiss production in recent years. This highly topical epic adventure movie offers breath-taking scenery, a brilliant Sven Schelker in the title role and a soundtrack composed by Oscar winner Gabriel Yared (THE ENGLISH PATIENT).

The most anticipated film about the “Swiss Gandhi” Manser, who fought on the side of the Penan against the destruction of the rainforest and kept international politicians holding their breaths, is now celebrating its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF). The 15th edition will open in the presence of director Niklaus Hilber, leading actor Sven Schelker, the producers Valentin Greutert and Philip Delaquis and the two Penan (Elizabeth Ballang and Nick Kelesau), who have travelled especially to Zurich from Malaysia.

"Playing out over several continents, Bruno Manser is a captivating contemporary record that could not be more up to date: the film highlights how important the rainforest is for our biosystem and pays tribute to an environmental activist who pushed himself to the limit for his convictions. It is also serves somewhat as a leitmotif for this year’s festival edition, within which 'green' films play an important role”, say the fest’s two Co-Directors Nadja Schildknecht and Karl Spoerri.

"BRUNO MANSER - DIE STIMME DES REGENWALDES is most certainly the most ambitious and most important film project of my career,” says director Niklaus Hilber. “Almost 20 years after his disappearance, Bruno Manser’s story is more relevant now than ever before. As the Amazon burns to the ground and globalisation and its insatiable appetite for natural resources makes protecting forests all the more urgent, we remember a man who embodied the fight against deforestation of the rainforests throughout the 80s and 90s. I am delighted that it is with this film that I have the privilege of opening this year’s ZFF.”

Producer Valentin Greutert and director Niklaus Hilber at ZFF 2015

Producer Valentin Greutert and director Niklaus Hilber at ZFF 2015

This is Hilber’s second film at the ZFF. He previously won the Audience Award with his 2015 production AMATEUR TEENS.

In addition to public funds, the laborious large-scale project BRUNO MANSER – DIE STIMME DES REGENWALDES was only made possible through private sector contributions. The movie received the 2017 “Association for the Promotion of Film in SwitzerlandIWC Filmmaker Award endowed with a 100’000 Swiss franc cash prize.

“This overture serves to highlight the great importance we attach to Swiss films at our festival. The last few years has seen several large-scale Swiss productions, including WOLKENBRUCH and SENNENTUNTSCHI, world premiere at the ZFF prior to successful theatrical release,” say Schildknecht and Spoerri.

Bruno Manser is produced by Valentin Greutert and his outfit A Film Company, as well as Philip Delaquis. The film is distributed by Ascot Elite and hits Swiss cinemas in German-speaking Switzerland on November 7, and French-speaking cinemas on December 18.

Tommy Hilfiger is the official Opening Night partner.


The entire program of the 15th Zurich Film Festival will be announced on Thursday 12 September.