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THE BRANCH I AM SITTING ON - A TAX HAVEN IN SWITZERLAND (DER AST, AUF DEM ICH SITZE - EINE STEUEROASE IN DER SCHWEIZ )

THE BRANCH I AM SITTING ON - A TAX HAVEN IN SWITZERLAND
© Bildersturm Filmproduktion GmbH

A tax haven in Switzerland, a half-­hearted fight against tax evaders in Germany, a formerly prosperous African country plunged into the abyss by world market prices for raw materials: although they might appear at first glance to have little in common, these all stand for a global economic system that shapes all of our lives – and the film-­maker is right in the thick of it.

The film traces the rise of the small Swiss town of Zug, now a trading centre in the same league as Shanghai, Singapore, London and New York. And tells the story of the townspeople who succeeded in becoming very rich: by systematically reducing taxes, they converted their town into one of the world’s leading tax havens. This daring feat loomed large in the childhood of the Swiss filmmaker, its protagonists – her father (the trustee), her sister (the politician), neighbours and politicians – featuring prominently in her everyday life at the time. Likeable people who enjoyed this venture and benefit from it to this day.

However, success came with its fair share of problems: shady commercial lawyers and commodities dealers turned up in the Swiss idyll. Actively assisted by the town authorities, they plundered Zambia and other countries from their newfound base. The town of Zug came to symbolise the injustices of this world. And a surprising number of Zug residents can live very well with that.

As a first-­person narrator, the director traces this skilled repression, seeking out answers about morals and motivation and charting the town’s position in the international tax competition game, where Germany, her adopted country, is also at the head of the pack. The personal economic film about the rise of a Swiss tax haven evolves into a radical and subtle reflection on double standards and collective repression.
Genre Society, Human Interest
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2020
Director Luzia Schmid
Screenplay Luzia Schmid
Cinematography Hajo Schomerus
Producer Birgit Schulz
Co-Producer Karin Koch
Production Company Bildersturm Filmproduktion
Runtime 104 min
Format 1:1.78, 16:9, DCP, DVD
Language
 German, Swiss German, English
Subtitled Versions German, English
Sound Technology Stereo
Festivals Zürich Film Festival 2020, Filmfestival Köln 2020, Zuger Filmtage 2020

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