Documentary – Martin Sutter goes from being a writer to a leading actor – Culture


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« All about Martin Sutter. Except for the truth»: this is what a documentary about the best-selling Swiss author promises. The film celebrated its world premiere on the last night of the Locarno Film Festival – at the conclusion of the 75th edition of the festival.

German director Andre Schaefer directed a movie about Martin Sutter: utterly confident, very entertaining, and at times surprising.

Sutter remains a master of stories, including his own. In one of the first shots, the author stands in front of the camera and says the two sentences that became the title of the film: “Everything about Martin Sutter. Only the truth ».

As the same Souter says: “Imagination is usually healthier than reality.” It refers to the work in his novels, but of course it also applies to this documentary, which is characterized by the friendly complicity between the director and his subject.

Between fiction and documentation

Andre Schaeffer allows Sauer to tell the story, escorting him and his wife to his apartment in Marrakesh, visiting the Zurich group of apartments with him since his childhood, and meeting his friends and comrades.

They include fellow author Benjamin von Stackrad Barry, footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger and also Philip Keel, son and successor of Diogenes (and Sutter) publisher Daniel Keel.

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Not a classic portrait: Documentaries sometimes also rely on the novel to bring the person behind the famous stories closer to the audience.

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At the same time, Schaeffer brings scenes from Sutter’s novels to life on the screen. The transitions from documentary to theatrical fiction are smooth.

Facts or Facade?

When Sutter explains how important research into facts and details is for him, he justifies it by saying that only verifiable truth can carry fiction into the story.

Sutter says he envies naive people. This is more than just a sarcastic remark. It is a warning and guide for Sutter’s books and the movie.

The smiling irony of the author, who appears shy and reserved, could be: the truth about Martin Sutter or his carefully designed facade.

This is shown by a luminous moment in which Sutter tells how Diogenes’ publisher Daniel Keel once asked him if he, a successful copywriter, had always wanted to be an author of books. Then Sutter’s wife intervened, saying that her husband had not only wanted to be an author, but had always wanted to be a best-selling author. He still hates her to this day, says Sutter.

Dark issues have also been addressed

Playing with the irony helps Sutter and director Schaeffer appropriately portray difficult moments in the author’s biography, such as the early death of his adopted son. The picture level suddenly became very lively, with Sutter’s own family recordings from Guatemala, the only archival material in the entire film.

Martin Sutter on his desk.

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Four years of work have passed on the film, which gives an insight into the world of thought and work of the famous Swiss writer.

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And there is another stage in which Sutter suddenly appeared without his softly smiling soul coat: joint performances with musician Stefan Escher, who once asked Sutter for the lyrics. These scenes flash like an oasis of safety. The combination of Sutter’s poetic texts and Escher’s music creates his own living reality and in the interaction between the two.

« All about Martin Sutter. Except for the Truth » explains that diligence, diligence, craftsmanship, and intelligent design can create something beyond everyday life: a reasonable truth, but it doesn’t have to be the only truth.

Theatrical release: 08/25/2022

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