Photo credits to Margherita Crocco and Susana Metzger

What If? Women in Film Festival 2021

The What if? Women in Film Festival is a platform to give voice to women all over the world. By showcasing documentaries made by women about women, the festival takes its audience on a journey of emotions, culture and exciting contrasts.
Swisscom blue is setting the scene for the main event, which will take place as a hybrid event in Zurich’s blue Cinema Corso this November.


The leading forces behind the Women in Film festival, Susana Metzger and Charlotte Gantenbein Soumeire, are female entrepreneurs themselves. In an interview with Tina Werro from Swisscom, they revealed exciting insights on their vision, its implementation and the impact of trending technologies.

  • Are you a filmmaker who has a story to tell? Reach out to [email protected] until the end of April.

The Women in Film Festival is more than “just an art exhibition”. This year, as a contribution to the globally observed movement for women’s rights, the focus lies on creating a historic stamp for gender equality. In the context of entertainment, the event is a tribute to art made by women.

Many endeavors, such as being part of the entrepreneur community of Zurich, inspired the festival’s founders to look at the women’s perspective in a different light. The exchange with other women made them understand that many challenges are relatable ones: “These stories are something bigger than just one person”. The two female founders went ahead to translate that insight into potential.

“It takes a certain degree of daringness to take a step forward and to start working – the insight of common challenges among women was one of the biggest inspirations for us to launch this festival”.

The festival’s vision is to accelerate a positive change through inspiration and through the creation of art, which also embraces an educational role. Besides offering a stage for women to express their perspective and own content through the art of film, the main event in November also includes instructive elements. This includes a collection of historical film records and a range of hands-on workshops where women, and of course also men and children, are given the chance to learn using a camera, how to film and how to video edit.

“You don’t need a budget of billions to make a film. We are often impressed by little guys that are able to create intimate and unique stories. All you need to make a documentary movie, is a storyteller and the dedication to make the movie.”

The key to a unique entertainment experience is the translation of perspectives into art – a form of expression, which subsequently inspires others.

The film festival puts this into action by displaying various types of documentary narratives, which trigger deep emotions that will make the audience grab their seats and keep all eyes fixed on the screen.

Examples of previous films are the narrative of the mindset of Icelandic women on gender equality; the complicated relationship between a mother and her daughter that has been used as their own psychotherapy and was recorded in a simple, yet professional manner of using almost only a mobile phone camera; a female farmer in the middle of France; a DJ in Canada…

“All these narratives express completely different stories and personalities, to which many of us can relate to and learn from.”

It is of special interest to the founders to make the festival an international one – they encourage women from all over the world, from small to experienced creators, to stand up and express their views on important topics. Also, providing their perspective on topics they might be afraid to talk about in their own country.

With the international orientation of the festival, the adoption of global perspectives is inevitable.

Particularly when it comes to growth and innovation, the founders are on the lookout for trends, technologies and connections from the U.S. market.

A trend with tremendous attention in the media and entertainment industry are immersive technologies. Augmented and Virtual Reality can improve the connection between people. Even though people have learned to feel comfortable in their living rooms, they crave being with each other. The famous TV host Oprah Winfrey for example, recently interviewed the former president Barack Obama. And although each of them was in their own living room at home, they combined the two sets together to make it look like they were face-to-face in the same room.

The festival, which will take place in the blue Cinema Corso in Zurich is going to be a hybrid event. Possibly, the festival will include 3D-modelling and VR technologies in the future, in order to create a similar immersive experience for those who are not able to physically visit to the cinema in Zurich.

“We are keen on including innovation to catch people’s attention and to create a distinctive experience. But we also encourage the audience to come to the Corso. The cinema will always be the premium option”.

On the one hand, people want to have the choice of going to the cinema, because the experience of watching a film on the big screen with high quality audio will never be surpassed. Also, because people desire a human connection at all costs. Being in the same room with other people, experiencing the same show, as you do in the opera, the theater or in the cinema; this is an experience of physical memory that can’t be compared. But on the other hand, it would be backwards not to use the technology available to either enhance or share all those experiences with as many as possible.

“Our festival is a way to reach out to all people around the globe that can just connect from their living room. You would think that they are coming to the festival, but actually we are also bringing the blue Cinema Corso to every corner of the world!”


The interview was conducted by Tina Werro. She works as an Open Innovation Developer for the Silicon Valley Outpost of Swisscom's Digital Business Unit and is highly engaged in innovation and female empowerment topics.