United States – Swiss Beach Talks to surprise Americans

A Swiss ambassador to the United States had an idea to introduce the Swiss living in California. It is the video which was privileged.

A Swiss ambassador wants to introduce the Helvetians to the Americans.

Photo d’illustration/Keystone

The Swiss Beach Talks want Americans to discover some of the 30,000 Swiss living in California. We owe this initiative to Ambassador Benedikt Wechsler, stationed in San Francisco, where he represents Switzerland in 13 American states, from California to Alaska via Hawaii, Colorado and New Mexico.

The ambassador was looking for a new format, because “we are tired of the poor image quality of Zoom meetings and other tinkered webinars”. “I felt that we needed a bit of art again, of staging, like good quality of content, sound and picture,” he told Keystone-ATS.

As the Ambassador can no longer accommodate guests at the Consulate General’s residence in China Beach due to the Covid, a two-party discussion was essential. He chose video, which allows a larger audience than in the presence of the public – between 50 and 100 people in normal times – and live, so that the spectators can ask questions.

Second range of encounters

The Consulate General of Switzerland offers a second range of meetings, this time linked to the proximity of the cinema mecca, Los Angeles. On Saturday, the ambassador received for his Film Talk, Jean de Meuron, Swiss filmmaker based in LA, son of the famous architect and producer of “La femme et le TGV”, nominated for the 2016 Oscars.

On the menu, “Little Sister” in the running for the 2021 Oscars. Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, the two Lausanne-based directors, will take part in the live from Switzerland. The main actress of the film Nina Hoss, too, but from Germany.

The promotion of this film in Los Angeles in the middle of Covid is a bit of a puzzle, worries multilingual German speaking. Barbara Miller’s film #Female Pleasure, nominated last year by Switzerland for the Oscars, was the subject of a first meeting of cinephiles.

This experience is not the only offensive in the world of Ambassador culture. For two months last summer, the diplomat launched an operation called Swiss Play Radio: a Zurich station GDS.FM, focusing on electronic music, broadcast a live program twice a week in the San Francisco bay.

Survive the end of the pandemic

The Swiss Beach Talks format should survive after the pandemic ends, he predicts. The next meeting will take place in December around chocolate, Christmas obliges. He will receive a former correspondent of the NZZ, who at 55, decided to make a big professional turn by embarking on the manufacture of artisanal chocolate, under the Sweet 55 label.

“We start with literature and chocolate,” smiles the ambassador. Tech, scientists, entrepreneurs, winegrowers and restaurateurs will not be forgotten. The Swiss Beach Talks are carried out with the support of Présence Suisse, directed by Nicolas Bideau, still wishes to clarify the diplomat.


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