For Paul Girard, celebrity mayor of Delémont, no challenge is too big when it comes to his endeavour to gain a seat in the National Parliament. This is why – with the help of his friend and watchmaker Liu – he has decided to host the semi-finals of the Miss China pageant in the Swiss Canton of Jura. With this unique idea, which is sure to cause a media frenzy, Paul hopes to gain publicity for his electoral campaign. Meanwhile Liu has set his sights on conquering the Chinese watch industry. However Paul is taken aback, when he is met with resistance from his fellow politicians, the Swiss Tourism industry and even his own wife.
Determined to not throw in the towel and lose face, Paul convinces Liu to ask his local contacts for favours. They improvise a trip through a different Switzerland, a world away from its postcard-perfect stereotype: Instead of castles and mountain views, the Misses discover the charm of sleeping on straw beds, military hospitality and the local produce.
Their antics attract the attention of the press and of the 300 million Chinese TV spectators. But will this international exposure be of any use to Paul in his bid to be taken seriously by the parliament in Bern? And will it enable Liu to flood the Chinese market with his “Made in Switzerland” watches?
Authors’ Note of Intent: Jacques Akchoti, Béatrice Guelpa und Claudio Tonetti
The media boom has undoubtedly changed our perception of politics and the world. To the extent where we begin to doubt if the facts – that are reported to us through newspapers and TV – really are objective truths or instead just rumours we should take with a pinch of salt. We have access to an array of interpretations and viewpoints and we can never be quite sure if what we are being fed is the truth.
We end up doubting if the event itself still holds any importance at all, if opinions and hearsay become the “reality” that feeds the discussions in our living rooms and bistros. Fiction is everywhere. The spectacle, its consequences and the glamour of it all have taken centre stage. It’s up to us if we join in or instead feel like we’re constantly missing out. We are almost led to question our own identity: Are we local, global or perhaps even planetary? What a dilemma! We live in a world of absurdity. But instead of moaning, why not laugh about it?
This is the gamble we have chosen to take with WIN WIN. The project is based on a “true story”! But beyond the real events, what fascinated us, was to discover the truths they hold about our world today. Politics, globalisation, glamour, media, money, image and a cultural crossover: It’s all in there! And the story we’ve made up, aims to question this obsession we have to constantly strive for greater, greener pastures, when our real lives are happening right here in front of our very eyes!
China is waking up! Wherever you go there’s talk about the dragon that is rising from the ashes. The world economy relies on it, politicians are talking about it. The population growth statistics are through the roof. Both out of fear and fascination we don’t dare confront this monster…But the world is watching at a safe distance. After all we all want a piece of the cake!
And then of course there’s the Chinese women! With their slanted eyes, their infectious laughter, their monsoon perfume and elegant silk dresses, which transport us back to a time of Marco Polo and exciting adventures…And it becomes all the more enchanting when the women in question are Misses, living incarnations of the definition of beauty!
Of course it’s impossible for a film to delve into such abstract notions, which would be worthy subjects for an academic thesis. No. It simply sets itself in a context, which mirrors the complexity of our world today. We recognize and take responsibility for our superficial viewpoint and intend to confront the chaos that surrounds us with a smile on our face.
The Producer’s Note of Intent: Pierre-Alain Meier
A true story.
The story behind WIN WIN is based on real events: In October 2006, 26 young, Chinese women arrived in Switzerland – invited by the Swiss politician Pierre Kohler – to compete in the semi-finals for the Miss China pageant.
A Popular Comedy
The idea was not to create a “documentary”, nor be to tied down by real events or characters, but instead to turn this somewhat incredible story into fiction, which tells of the Jura and Switzerland today.
We always imagined it to be a popular comedy in the truest sense of the word: To invite the viewers to reflect upon the Swiss identity, while leaving plenty of room for enjoyment.
The viewers should recognize themselves in the film, which is essentially about them. WIN WIN aims to show a different side to Switzerland, that of the lesser-known peripheral cantons, which lie off the beaten tourist track. It is not our intention to glorify a nation, nor do we want to paint an image of a country that is stuck in backward-thinking ways and traditions.
On the contrary: Paul’s Switzerland is full of surprises, spontaneous and doesn’t shy away from success. Paul, to a certain extent, is a “rebel” whose gamble eventually pays off and becomes a “people’s hero”, proving that leading heads aren’t always “put on the chopping block” in the land of consensus. To show that in Switzerland – a country known for its “constancy and measure” – if you choose to be different and not play by the rules, you’re not necessarily doomed for failure.
The Search for Funding
WIN WIN initially promised to be a costly production: Due to its 50 plus decors and 50 plus actors, add to that the cost of filming in China, endless crowd scenes, the presence of the actresses for an entire month, for which the wardrobe and makeup team almost quadrupled. A first budget estimate came in at roughly 5 million Swiss francs.
In order to ensure the production would remain French-Swiss, we couldn’t hire famous actors from France and in a bid to control spending, we instead set our sights on a half-Swiss, half-French and even Belgian casting possibilities. With my closest co-workers we tried tirelessly for months to find solutions. We faced numerous hurdles and at times questioned the feasibility of this project.
At one point we decided to film in Belgium and settled on hiring unknown actors. For months, while we waited to hear back from the TV channels, we thought about how we could simplify production and considered rewriting the script. At times, I was ready to give up. Some of the challenges just seemed impossible…But luckily the word “impossible” doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of the people of the Jura.
Filming in the Jura…
The people of the Jura have been hugely cooperative and generous throughout. In order to convince my partners, I had to prove to them that WIN WIN had the full support of the region. Every co-producer or investor interested in the film knew all too well that the film’s distribution and general release, would depend on its local reception. If WIN WIN didn’t win over the hearts of the people of the Jura, it wouldn’t stand a chance elsewhere.