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Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner dies at 92

Prolific Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner, considered a pioneer of Switzerland’s new wave film movement, died Sunday at the age of 92, his foundation said.

“Alain Tanner was one of the beacons of Swiss cinema,” his foundation said in a statement issued in consultation with his family.

Tanner was an internationally renowned director with more than two dozen films to his name, who began his career in the late 1950s.

A contemporary of the French New Wave, he is credited with helping launch Switzerland’s own, smaller new wave in the 1970s, along with colleagues Miche Soutter, Claude Goretta, Jean-Louis Roy and Jean-Jacques Lagrange.

Their “Group of 5” spurred a renewal in Swiss films reflecting the era’s spirit of nonconformity.

Tanner’s first full-length feature film, “Charles, Dead or Alive”, which appeared in 1969, marked the beginning of politically engaged cinema in Switzerland. 

That film, which tells the story of a businessman who decides to abandon mainstream capitalist life to take up a marginal existence on the fringe of society as student protests rage, won the top prize at the Locarono film festival.

Among his best-known films are “Jonas who will be 25 in the Year 2000,” from 1976 and “Light Years Away”, which won the Grand Prix at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.

On his foundation’s website, he is quoted as saying he felt lucky to have been born when he was.

“Over 50 years, during the second half of the last century, I lived through was probably the most engaging for cinema, with the questioning of the old styles, the break with old structures and the arrival of modernity,” he said. 

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