The opticians camera

Extracts from Marcel Reichenbach's films, Guatema

[original title:  Die Kamera des Optikers]

Switzerland 1992. 16mm, colour, min.

In 1923 Marcel Reichenbach, aged 1, emigrates with his parents to Guatemala. Due to his father's early death he is not able to study medicine so he becomes an optician. - In 1944 the dictatorship in Guatemala is overthrown. Colonel Jacobo Arbenz, son of a Swiss immigrant, plays an important part in setting up democracy. Minister of Defence under President Arvalo, Arbenz becomes President in 1951. He advocates economic and social reforms and puts through an agricultural reform. Reichenbach buys himself a 16-mm-cine-camera. Together with the socially engaged Dr. Carlos Monson he makes the first documentary films in Guatemala. Subjects: the fate of destitute children, and the welfare institutions. - During the Cold War President Arbenz is declared a tool of the communists and in 1954 is toppled by the CIA. - Reichenbach pioneers publicity films, but he makes one last documentary film - in the form of a long-term observation - on children from the lowest social strata.

DirectorEduard Winiger
Screening formats16mm
Contact, World RightsEduard Winiger
Geeringstrasse 61, 8049 Zürich
+41 44 340 01 71
ProductionFilmkollektiv Zürich