Mr. Christian Frei - “Reduction of complexity - necessity and key for successful documentaries”

Master Class


«That is what the artist must do. He must capture the thing so truly that its magnification will endure. That is the difference between journalism and literature.» (Ernest Hemingway) In a feature length documentary, the genuine view of the real, its authenticity and texture are transformed into a story. As an interpretation of reality, not reality itself. In order to tell a compelling story, we need to reduce the complexity and complications of the real. If we distance ourselves too much from the purely factual, we might end up in stereotypes and fake. If we don’t reduce complexity, the audience will be confused and possibly bored. How can we reach a deeper level of reality, the truthfulness, the magnification that will endure? Christian Frei will speak about his methods and his experience and discuss the chances and limits in what he considers a key element in the creation of a successful documentary that stands the test of time.


Speaker: Mr Christian Frei

  • Oscarnominated and Sundance winning Swiss director-producer
  • President of the Swiss Film Academy

Swiss director and producer Christian Frei is considered one of today’s most innovative and compelling documentary filmmakers. He was nominated for an Academy Award with War Photographer (2001) and won the World Cinema Directing Award at Sundance with Space Tourists (2009). From the very start of his career, Frei established a reputation as an exacting documentarist, with a perfect grasp of his subjects. His films are considered to be humanistic and universal, as much as subtle and insistent. His latest documentary Genesis 2.0 (2018) premiered again at Sundance where it won the Special Jury Award for Cinematography. As producer, Christian Frei releases Raving Iran (2016), the first feature length documentary directed by Susanne Regina Meures. Since 2006, Christian Frei has been an associate lecturer on Reflection Competence at the renowned University of St. Gallen (HSG). Since August 2010 he is president of the Swiss Film Academy.