From the weekly news film of the 1920s to propaganda films produced by the Army Film Service and TV programmes that were objected to by the Independent Complaints Authority for Radio and Television: the Swiss Federal Archives contain noteworthy documents from nearly 100 years of film and television production in Switzerland.
Overview and accessibility
The contributions of the Swiss weekly news film Schweizer Wochenschau from 1923 to 1976, various news and information programmes from the country's three main language areas produced for Swiss television and, finally, film material produced on behalf of Swiss authorities are held by the Swiss Federal Archives. The film material is archived on video cassettes and film reels. The most comprehensive film reel fonds, namely that of the Army Film Service and the Schweizer Filmwochenschauen, have been copied to video tape.
The videos can be viewed in the reading room. It is also possible to copy the films onto DVDs.
A first series of contributions of the Schweizer Filmwochenschau was produced during the years 1923 to 1936 by the Office cinématographique S.A. in Lausanne and subsequently by Cinégram in Geneva. These contributions can be found in the Ciné-journal Suisse fonds. The Confederation took over the production of the weekly news film between 1940 and 1976. These transmissions are archived by the Swiss Weekly News Film. The Federal Archives also provide access to various Swiss television programmes on world affairs and events of the day. They can be found in the fonds of Swiss Television DRS (1957-2007) and Télévision de la Suisse Romande (1959-1991).
The army and the Second World War
The Federal Archives also hold propaganda films dating from the Second World War. In particular, they include the fonds of the Army Film Service (Training Group Staff: Army Film Service, 1912-1993). The fonds of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (1934-1941) document the problems of feeding the population and the Anbauschlacht ("cultivation battle", i.e. the increase in domestic food production due to reductions in imports) during the Second World War. Certain films were assessed and censored by the Swiss authorities. The majority of these films came from Nazi Germany and can be found in the fonds of the Press and Radio Division (1815-1960).
Swiss and international films on aircraft and anti-aircraft defence can be found in the fonds of the Command of the Flying Corps and Anti-Aircraft Defence Troops (1914-1989).
The Federal Archives also contain films and television programmes that have been evaluated by the Independent Complaints Authority for Radio and Television. The video collection fonds (1985-1994) contain extracts from the censored weekly news film, whilst the fonds of the Independent Complaints Authority for Radio and Television (1966-) contain television programmes that were the subject of complaint.
Various film sources
The fonds of the Swiss Federal Archives contain a wide variety of film material:
- John Clerc fonds (1830-1990): films on various elections and trips undertaken by the Federal Council.
- Jacques Aeschlimann fonds: the silent movies "La journée de Berne" (1937) and "Aux urnes citoyens!" (1930)
- Federal Department of Finance, personal files of Federal Councillor Otto Stich fonds (1981-1995): recordings of various appearances of the former minister of finance, Otto Stich.
- Delegates of the Federal Council for 700 Years of the Confederation fonds (1988-1991): film material on the celebration of the Confederation's 700th anniversary.
- Swiss National Exhibition, organisational committee, 1964 Lausanne fonds (1956-1968): film material on the National Exhibition of 1964.
- Federal Alcohol Administration fonds (1945-1988): a number of films about fruit and alcohol.
- Private archives of the Swiss Cheese Union (1858-2000): a number of films on the production of cheese and various advertising films.
Tips for further research
- Video database FaroWeb: archives of the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF). Access via the computers in the reading rooms at the Federal Archives to the Swiss television programmes that have been digitised to date. Focal points: internal production as of 1987; daily news programme Tagesschau as of 1957; weekly news films Filmwochenschauen (1940-1976); regional programmes, documentaries, video clips and manuscripts relating to specific transmissions. The content of the archive is continuously updated.
- Radio télévision suisse and Radiotelevisione Svizzera: archives accessible online. All units of the radio and television corporation archive their respective programmes.
- SRF Archive YouTube Channel: SRF publishes selected films from its own archives on a separate YouTube channel.
- Cinémathèque Suisse (ger) (Swiss film archives): collection of movies and documentaries, contributions from the Tagesschau and Schweizer Filmwochenschau and an extensive collection of film posters; internal library on the topic of cinema.
- Archives of Contemporary History: collection of documentaries on historical events with a focus on the Second World War, including "Switzerland during the war years of 1933-1945" (13-part series by Werner Rings) and the documentary series "Traces of Time" by SRF.
Last modification 19.10.2015