Alain Tanner

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Alain Tanner
Alain Tanner répondant à André S. Labarthe à la Cinémathèque française.JPG
Born(1929-12-06)6 December 1929
Geneva, Switzerland
Died11 September 2022(2022-09-11) (aged 92)
Geneva, Switzerland
Years active1957–2012

Alain Tanner (6 December 1929 – 11 September 2022)[1] was a Swiss film director.

Early years and education[edit]

Tanner was born in Geneva, and studied economics at the University of Geneva.[2] In 1951, he joined the film club which Claude Goretta had recently established at the university. After his graduation and a short time working for international shipping companies in London, he continued feeling drawn to film.[2]

Film career[edit]

Tanner found work at the British Film Institute in 1955, subtitling, translating, and organizing the archive.[3] His first film, Nice Time (1957), a short documentary film about Piccadilly Circus during weekend evenings, was made with Claude Goretta.[4] Produced by the British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund, it was first shown as part of the third Free Cinema programme at the National Film Theatre in May 1957. The debut film won a prize at the film festival in Venice and much critical praise.[3]

Tanner went to France for a while where he assisted with several commercial films. There, he met some of the most important directors of the French New Wave in Paris as well as Henri Langlois, the director of the Cinémathèque Française. But the atmosphere in the film circles of Paris displeased him; he described it as "cutthroat."

Between 1960 and 1968, Tanner returned to Switzerland, and he made more than 40 films as well as documentaries for French-language television there. In 1962, he became the co-founder of the Swiss young filmmakers' "Groupe Cinque."[2]

His first feature film, Charles, Dead or Alive (1969), won the first prize at the international film festival in Locarno.[3] His next two films, La Salamandre (1971) and Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976), were made in close collaboration with the art critic and novelist John Berger, who had also worked with him, to a lesser degree and without a credit, on the writing of Charles.[5]

Tanner in 1993

Influenced by his involvement with the British Free Cinema movement in London and with the French New Wave during his years in Paris, Tanner is best known for his movies Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000 (Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000), Messidor and Dans la ville blanche (In the White City). Dans la ville blanche, starring Bruno Ganz and shot in Lisbon, was entered into the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

Light Years Away, his only English language film shot in Ireland, won the Grand Prix Prize at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Tanner and his wife, Janine, had two children. He died at a hospital in Geneva on 11 September 2022, aged 92.[1][2]



  1. ^ a b "È morto il regista svizzero Alain Tanner". Corriere del Ticino (in Italian). 11 September 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Williams, Alex (19 September 2022). "Alain Tanner, Leading Director in Swiss New Wave, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Alain Tanner: marin et cinéaste, deux métiers si peu suisses" (in French). Le Courrier. 7 February 2004. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  4. ^ "Alain Tanner ou filmer l'ailleurs" (in French). L'Humanité. 3 June 1998. Archived from the original on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (13 February 1987). "Film: 'No Man's Land'". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1983 Programme". Archived from the original on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.

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