Direction: Markus Imhoof


Germany, Switzerland, 2018
92 Min.

Against The Tides Kuhlenkampff's Shoes

zero one film in Coproduction with Thelma Film, Ormenis FIlm, SRF, SRG, SSR, Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Funded by BKM, Filmförderungsanstalt und FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Bundesamt für Kultur (EDI), Cinéforum und Loterie Romande, Zürcher Filmstiftung, Kulturfonds Suissimage, Marlies Kornfeld, Volkart Stiftung, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, Werner Merzbacher, UBS Kulturstiftung, Succès Passage Antenne und Succès Cinéma.

Rental: Majestic Filmverleih
World Distribution: Films Boutique

World Premiere: Feb 22, 2018, Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
Cinema premiere: Apr 26, 2018



Throughout history, there have always been refugees. They used to come from places closer to home: In the lean years of WW II and its direct aftermath, the family of Swiss director Markus Imhoof, a small boy of four years at the time, took in Giovanna, an undernourished eight-year-old Italian girl as part of a limited-term program for children. After the end of her stay, she had to go back to Italy. The Imhoof family privately arranged for Giovanna to come back to visit for a second time. In the end, the Swiss government insisted on sending Giovanna back to Italy. She died of illness at the age of thirteen, soon after being forced to return.

Imhoof takes this early experience of personal loss as a point of entry to the ongoing refugee crisis, the biggest mass displacement of people since WW II. With extraordinary access, Imhoof takes us on a journey with deep personal roots through the Italian warships of Operation Mare Nostrum, refugee camps in Southern Italy, asylum hearings with Swiss authorities, all designed to turn back refugees at all levels.

What emerges is a stark picture of an absurd and inhuman process that fails to address a human tragedy: a crisis caused by economic imbalances turning the rich countries of the North into the Eldorado that so many of the less fortunate try to reach at all cost. The “Promised Land” is based on a broken promise.


Bavarian Film Award

Best Documentary

Berlinale - 68. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 2018

Special mention - Amnesty International Filmpreis

Swiss Film Award

Best Cinematography


Written and directed by Markus Imhoof

Editing and script collaboration: Beatrice Babin (BFS)

Camera: Peter Indergand (SCS)

Sound: Dieter Meyer, Jürg Lempen, Hugo Poletti

Assistant director and research: Marion Glaser, Antonella Falconio, Giorgia De Coppi, Franziska Arnold

Music: Peter Scherer