What if we all suddenly had to speak French? Peter Luisi’s new comedy raises federal concerns.
Does life write the best stories, as the saying goes? Or are these people only born when they take real popular initiatives as a guide and take them to the extreme? “Bon Schuur Ticino” adheres to the second, least attractive rule and makes the best of it.
The comedy film “Bon Schuur Ticino” was jointly produced by Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) and SRG.
Comedian Pete Schlatter was clearly inspired by the so-called “No Billag Initiative” that kept our country in suspense in 2018. The Zurich native took inspiration from the “No Billag Initiative” and told director Peter Luisi about the idea for his film: “Imagine that There is an initiative that wanted to abolish multilingualism, and the vote would be such that French would eventually be the sole national language.
Comedy specialist Peter Luisi was enthusiastic about this subtle thought experiment. On the one hand, because he realized it was a German-Swiss horror scenario that would elicit laughter on both sides of the Rüstegraben. On the other hand, because it can exploit a seemingly ridiculous fact: “As one of the smallest countries in Europe, we have the most official languages. This alone is worthy of comedy.”
Pete Schlatter shines twice
Cabaret artist Pete Schlatter plays a dual role in the 90-minute film, which was developed in collaboration with Peter Luisi. In addition to Janno Bachmann, the linguistically gifted father of the initiative, he also embodies the film’s actual hero: Walter Egli, a simple federal civil servant who – like the vast majority of German-speaking Swiss – is caught off guard. Referendum.
And it’s a role with which the 62-year-old can completely identify: “I still speak almost no French. That’s exactly why the whole thing comes to mind: because you’re always looking for the worst possible situation for the hero so he can prove himself to the fullest.”
Of all people, the Zurich resident who hates the French language should make sure the referendum goes through. This creates situations that make others feel ashamed Collectively. For example, when Mr. Egli knocks on the door of a family of five to remind them of the impending language change: “Because you live in a subsidized apartment and have a half-fare card, you will have to speak French in your own language.” Four walls from October 15.
What would happen if the crazy idea was implemented at the national level? Peter Luisi lovingly describes this, and its dire consequences for the social structure: Germany – overrun by Swiss-speaking refugees – will be horrified by the large number of children who speak poor German who are now going to school.
In canton Ticino, which has already been ignored by the initiative’s Francophone name, the consequences will be even more serious. Instigated by a revolutionary separatist (brilliantly played by Leonardo Negro), Italian-speaking Switzerland declares its independence: “Long live the Free State of Ticinia!”
Such a scenario is not entirely far-fetched in light of real desires for separation. Especially since Peter Luisi was only welcomed with open arms in the southern canton when he was looking for shooting permits when he spoke about the script: “It’s about the canton of Ticino, which is separated from the rest of the country…”
Before he could finish his sentence, the person opposite interrupted him, saying: “Yes! Yes! We will join immediately!”
Cinema release: November 30, 2023
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