Swiss Film Academy's 2023 Honorary Award goes to Ruth Waldburger
The Swiss Film Academy's 2023 Honorary Award pays tribute to one of Switzerland's most important film producers. Without Ruth Waldburger, the Swiss film industry would not have the international profile it does today.
Ruth Waldburger grew up in Arosa and Herisau. In the mid-1970s, she began her career in broadcasting, namely as a production assistant on the legendary SRF consumer television show Kassensturz. From the late 1970s, she made a name for herself as a dedicated production manager on numerous Swiss films by promising new filmmakers. Already at that time, she was laying the foundations for collaboration with filmmakers from French-speaking Switzerland, like Alain Tanner for instance. In 1982, she switched from set to production work and became co-owner of the production company Xanadu Film. In the years that followed, she and other young producers made possible a number of films by up-and coming filmmakers from Switzerland and abroad.
As owner and producer of the newly-established production company Vega Film, she embarked in 1988 on a close collaboration with Jean-Luc Godard, producing eleven films with him. Shortly afterwards, she helped Brad Pitt become an international star with her first American film Johnny Suede. The film won the Pardo d'oro at the Locarno Film Festival, and her subsequent films won awards at all the international film festivals. She thus established herself in a short space of time as the most important Swiss producer in Europe, and from then on, began collaborating with the most famous international filmmakers, such as Alain Resnais, Robert Frank, Gianni Amelio, Noémie Lvovsky and Léos Carax.
But she did not build her renown internationally only; she continued to work in Switzerland, producing the successful television series Die Direktorin in the 1990s. In addition, she has always been active in film policy. For example, she founded the GARP association (Gruppe Autorin:innen, Regisseur:innen, Produzent:innen) with other producers and filmmakers, which in 2001 launched the Dîner politique at the Locarno Film Festival, the most influential event between policy makers and professionals from the film industry.
The Swiss Film Academy's Honorary Award, with prize money of CHF 30,000, recognises Ruth Waldburger's outstanding Swiss contribution to international filmmaking.