Project 2023

Man with a music organ on board

Man with a music organ on board

Postcards turned into stars How film-maker Valentin Merz is launching his art project for the Locarno Film Festival with Swiss Post

Swiss Post is committed to film and culture. In 2023, it supported Valentin Merz’s film project, which was produced as part of last year’s BaseCamp. With postcards and Mexican “organilleros” as the stars. The film celebrated its premiere during Locarno76. You can watch the whole film online here.

Swiss Post has been the official sponsor of the Locarno Film Festival since 2002. What began as logistics sponsorship has now turned into a broad commitment to cinema. And so, as of this year, Swiss Post is also supporting BaseCamp. Over the course of the festival, BaseCamp offers young artists and film-makers a place to bring their diverse ideas to life.

One of these ideas is from Swiss film-maker Valentin Merz. In his latest film, which is also celebrating its premiere at Locarno, the “organilleros” from Mexico use their music to transport us to a special place, showing touching moments that represent the circle of life. Moments that people share with each other. The film’s soundtrack is made up of melancholic sounds of antique barrel organs. The instruments date from the early 20th century and used to be found in many European cities.

Collage from film recordings
Barrel organs on the street: no longer seen here, but still very much part of the culture in Mexico City. To this day, the sentimental melodies of the “organillos”, as the organs are called there, resound in the populous metropolis’s squares. The instruments are played by members of the “Unión de Organilleros”, the union of barrel organ players. Their distinguishing feature is their uniform. © Andrea Film

The piece of music that the barrel organ interprets in the film is called “La Paloma”, a popular 19th century Spanish song that has been reinterpreted by various artists. The “La Paloma” dove is also a sign of peace.

During the festival, the protagonists of the film “Mi organillo” parade through the streets of Locarno with their organs, distributing a total of 4,500 postcards. Each one is unique and represents a different moment in the film. Strung together, they reproduce the film’s story in thousands of frames. In this way, festival-goers not only immerse themselves in foreign worlds on the big screen, but also become part of the story.

Through his project, Valentin Merz shows how music and postcards bring people together in a touching way – around the globe, and in the most diverse cultures.

Art and culture on the move. We are proud to bring people and Switzerland together once again this year with the Locarno Film Festival and look forward to Locarno 2024.

Three questions to Valentin Merz

How did you get into the movie business?

Before I was a filmmaker, I watched movies. Cinema has always been a place where I can step out of my own reality. And to think about the world in a different way. From there, my path to cinema was very organic.

Why Mexico?

I was asked to create a short film that could be both a movie and a series of postcards. The project took me to Xochmilco, south of Mexico City. The name comes from Nahuatl and means field of flowers. It's a place inhabited by folkloric culture, celebrations, trashy parties and poetic landscapes. It's familiar to me and probably unknown to the Locarno audience. It's like sending a postcard from a place I love to a dear friend.

What makes Locarno special for you?

Locarno is the place where I premiered my first feature film "De noche los gatos son pardos". It was screened at FEVI and it's the first time I've shared my movie with such a big audience on such a big screen. Sitting in the audi-ence with the audience, the crew and the actors and watching our movie was a powerful collective experience.