Fight the Power: Cyril Schäublin on the Troubles | Interviews
Schäublin’s cinematic approach sheds light on often overlooked subjects. With “Unrest”, he shifts the camera slightly to encompass women’s experiences in industrial spaces. But he is rarely didactic in his choices. After weaving influences from theatre, philosophy, history and science into an intricate tapestry, he then hands this large canvas to the public to extract their own thoughts and interpretations. For Schäublin, this intentionality was self-evident.
In directing “Unrest”, Schäublin encouraged his cast of mostly non-actors to avoid overly theatrical portrayals. Wide shots of anarchists fundraising outside their workplaces or gathering to swap photos of famous revolutionaries encourage the viewer to find their own way through the frame, with naturalistic dialogue only slightly guiding our eyes. towards the apparent subject of a given scene. The result is almost voyeuristic, ironically giving the impression that someone managed to install video cameras in the Jura mountains 150 years ago for our benefit. Yet despite this documentary appearance, “Unrest” is simultaneously aware of its inherent bias as a historical drama film. When Schäublin applies his open aesthetic to this issue, he threads the needle to provide a fuller picture of the period than you might find in a history book without moralizing his ideas.
“Unrest” is the story of a struggle between nationalism and anarchism, bosses and workers. It comes at a time of global upheaval, reactionary tendencies and labor resurgence. Prior to his TIFF ’22 appearance, RogerEbert.com sat down with Schäublin to discuss his self-help style of filmmaking, his affinity for a liberated audience experience, and the influence of the women in his family on the stories he chooses to tell.
Beyond its success at film festivals, how has “Unrest” been received? been like so far?
Well well. I traveled with the film. I had great conversations with people, lots of different reactions. I’m a little scared to show it to my family…
Haven’t they seen it yet?
My brother has. My brother is a university. He studied anthropology at Oxford. He helped me a lot during the film.
Was your brother involved as a consultant?
He helped me organize the information I found by talking to my family, to all the people who work in the watch factories, and he gave me good contacts. I would say that he and the historical adviser (Florian Eitel), who published his doctoral work on this [Swiss] valley in the second half of the 19th century with a microhistorical approach, did all the research. It was very lucky, because most of the books I found on the anarchist movement in the 19th century – not just in Switzerland [but] also everywhere else – they seemed to focus only on the anarchist movement, on the people who would call themselves anarchists, and not on the environment or how it was juxtaposed with other situations. And I think that’s really important. That’s what’s really great about this book. [Anarchistische Uhrmacher in der Schweiz] of Eitel: he tried to see the situation of this city. It was written in German and will be translated into French in September.