Jonas Ulrich - The World of a Cinema Addict Jonas Ulrich about his career and his favorite films.
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Jonas Ulrich - The World of a Cinema Addict

Jonas Ulrich about his career and his favorite films.

Today CineSud Magazine is going to introduce the winner of the Golden Leopard for the Best Swiss Short Film at the Locarno Film Festival 2020: Jonas Ulrich. He tells our readers about his first steps in his filmmaking career, his addiction to fiction books and films, his own production company in Switzerland and he shares his Top 3 movies of past and recent years. Do not miss your chance to discover something new! Let’s read!

"There's a German silent film from 1930 called People on Sunday, so having no dialogue was a bit of an homage to that movie."

18 oktober 2020

The Magic World of Fiction

Jonas Ulrich did not have a precise notion of what a film director is until he became a teenager. However, already as a child he felt a desire to connect his life with storytelling. Ever since he read The Hobbit, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's famous fantasy novel, Jonas tried to write fanfiction devoted to Middle Earth. The director knew that this magic world of fiction captured him and would not not let him go.

Movies also left their imprint on Jonas' mind and inspired his imagination, such as the original Star Wars Trilogy. Jonas Ulrich adds: "But the understanding of what a director does and the interest in film language came later. A big turning point was definitely watching Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) for the first time at the age of 13 or 14." The director was so impressed with the cinematography that he decided to explore it deeper.

Jonas Ulrich completed a Bachelor in History and Film Studies at the University of Zürich in his home country Switzerland. Though it had nothing to do with actual filmmaking, the director learned a lot about film analysis, theory and history. He remembers: "It definitely influenced me in terms of getting a wider perspective on the art of the cinema, and also watching a lot of really old movies."

Dynamic Frame

Around 2011, Jonas Ulrich, together with a group of his friends who were all fond of making movies but did not really know what to do with this passion and how to raise funding, set up his own production company called Dynamic Frame. By doing that, the group hoped that it would help them to take root in the industry and make a living by producing both commercials and independent projects such as fiction, documentary and music videos. Jonas confirms: "That's basically what happened, even if there were quite a few bumps in the road. The fact that we were young, reckless and got along with very little money definitely helped us not to give up and continue working on our passion."

Aside from a big number of various projects, Jonas Ulrich says that his biggest "achievement" with Dynamic Frame is that he met his fiancée Nicole Boner. She was the producer of the award-winning film People on Saturday (original title: Menschen am Samstag) (2020) and the director admits that the whole film would not exist without her.

Film Recommendations from Jonas

Jonas is a cinema addict and he watches a lot of movies in his spare time. The director laughs: "That's what happens when you spend your early 20s at university, writing papers about Michael Haneke or cannibalism in Brazilian cinema."

His all time favorites have not actually changed since he was a teenager. These are the movies the director grew up with and for which he feels an undying affection:

- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

- The Dollar Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966))

- The Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983))

- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), The Return of the King (2003))

However, if you, our readers, have watched all those famous films during the quarantine, Jonas has another Top 3 with more recent films which will definitely appeal to you. These are:

- The Square (2017)

- 12 Years a Slave (2013)

- Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

His Favorite Part of Work

Answering the question what his dream production would be, the director says: "Like everyone I'd like to shoot a feature fiction film, but as long as I haven't done that yet, I don't know whether I will like it. So far, doing short films has been the most satisfying for me.” 

Jonas enjoys every aspect of making his films, however, he finds that watching the film for the first time during post production, when the color grading and the sound design is done, to be the most interesting experience. The reason for that, according to him, is that this is when, after so much work, it finally feels like a movie and not just like a complete mess.

People on Saturday

The director's film People on Saturday illustrates a sunny Saturday afternoon in Zurich. Ten tableaux show people struggling with the small and big challenges of their daily lives. The idea was to take an outside look at today's society and to make something that can be watched in 100 years, so that people in the future can understand a little bit and maybe laugh about the way people lived in 2019.

There aren't any dialogues in the movie. Jonas comments: "There's a German silent film from 1930 called People on Sunday, so having no dialogue was a bit of an homage to that movie. I like the idea that the images are universally understandable and do not depend on the language."

Festival Experience 

Of course Jonas Ulrich and his team did not expect to win the prize for the Best Swiss Short Film with People on Saturday in Locarno, therefore they were blown away by the news. Talking about the new format of this year's festival edition the director says: "I am fond of the Locarno Film Festival but obviously this year it was a special edition, with only a reduced physical screening capacity and a parallel online release. It was still great!"

Luckily, so far, Jonas Ulrich's plans have not been affected by the virus that much and his productions have almost gone back to a normal level since May, which means that we will hear more about his new achievements soon!

In order not to miss any new premieres, visit Jonas’s website

Do you want more information about Jonas Ulrich and his films?

Visit his website!

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

Over de auteur: Sofia Piven

Sofia Piven is currently studying Journalism and International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. She has always been interested in writing articles and after finishing school and entering the university she wrote for local newspapers and magazines. Since January 2018 she regularly writes articles for CineSud magazine.

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