EUROFILMER
Europäischer Autorenkreis für Film und Video e. V.
European Film & Video Makers Circle

Newsletter from the Board of Management

We mourn our founding member and former vice president Günter Viereckt

A farewell to Günter Viereckt

I still remember very well that Beat Ricklin, my father and I founded a film club in Zurzach. I was responsible for technology and as a youngster I thought I was ready for any eventuality. One evening a club member brought Günter Viereckt to the film club.  His films were watched. I can still remember: "The city of Saint Blasius" (Dubrovnik) and "Stop a while", about hunting with a camera instead of a gun. These were films that impressed me very much, as we had been mainly technical in our club to that point. It immediately became clear to me: if you wanted to make good films, you didn't just have to master the technology, but also to captivate the audience with a good story.

It was also the time when Röbi Lutz founded the SIFA and the young Zurzacher Club made a name for itself there from the start.

Günter was very interested in judging and in endless discussions with Hans Rüdisühli and I then developed a first SIFA jury system. It still contained criteria like: "cleanliness of the film" or "exposure and sharpness" etc. Today we smile about it, but there was a philosophy behind it. Günter wanted to reward the authors at the SIFA festival, not to "bawl them out", those were evaluation points that anyone could earn. So it was possible for less experienced authors to get a good rating in such a system.

As Günter said: "We want to get the authors to make another film for the next festival!" If we tell the authors what they did well and very well (criteria that had to be rated badly, were mention only marginally) we can "tickle" them and have them come to the competition with a film the following year.  Günter always remained true to this basic idea for the jury.  That is why Günter always resisted  awarding fewer medals:  "If the author can take a medal home with him, he will make competition films again.”

Soon Eurofilmer were founded in Germany and Günter wanted to merge with SIFA. In addition, he immediately saw that the Eurofilmfestival would enable him to offer Swiss SIFA authors a higher level of international competition. This possibility is still enjoyed by Swiss authors today.

What a festival it was back then! The ladies came in long gowns and the gentlemen in suits and ties. The dinner followed by the award ceremony was always the highlight and Günter was a born speaker and award presenter. He did this so skilfully that in the end everyone was satisfied, even those who were not rewarded with precious metal.

Günter was not only active in Switzerland as SIFA President, but also as Vice President of the Eurofilmer and at the same time as the person responsible for the jury. The many years with Ruth König as President were probably the most successful for the Eurofilmer, the SIFA and also the amateur filmmakers throughout Europe. On the horizon, however, it became apparent that major upheavals were imminent, and that the film industry would be completely revamped technically.

Digital instead of analogue was now the watchword and this technical revolution brought new possibilities for film makers: original sound was always available, faster recording cameras, later influence by PC etc.  For Günter, this was always a world in which he never got a foothold. For him, filming meant: Bolex and Kodachrome, clean soundtracks and of course the narrator who captivates the audience with the script.

Soon criticism was levelled at the long-standing jury procedure, and apparently the calculations were overstrained as well with 20 evaluation criteria. In addition, there were evaluation criteria for the new era, i.e. film production with digital tape and computer. At the same time there were changes at SIFA and the Eurofilmer board of directors. Günter gave up the SIFA Presidency and also the Vice-Presidency of Eurofilmer. But when his jury system was changed (only 8 evaluation criteria and they can be summed up by PC) he came out into the spotlight again.  He fought vociferously against the new kind of calculation and against the new criteria. For me it is understandable, because during previous attempts to renew the jury system with him, I noticed that he could not understand how films were made in the video age.

It was the beginning of a difficult time for Günter. Kodachrome films were no longer produced and his health made it difficult for him. He survived several surgeries and probably also realised that it was a mistake to shut oneself off from the new technology. He even bought a Casablanca editing system and until a year ago he also wanted to buy a video camera. Too late!

He found sound on the PC very difficult and he was about to throw the Casablanca out of the window. He probably realised that he had missed the right time to make the switch.

When we talk about Günter, however, I always think about his outstanding films, especially "Music, the Image of Life" and the exciting and warm-hearted award ceremonies. I will also never forget the social club evenings and excursions.

In addition, his credo of film judging has survived to this day: The author should be rewarded at the festival and not punished.  This is the only way to maintain a lively amateur film scene with well-attended festivals.

Thank you Günter, for this noble attitude, we will continue to judge according to this motto in the future.

Hansruedi Wiget