Züri brännt


100 mins, 1981, ½ inch, black-and-white, subtitles D/E/F/I, 8 mins (excerpts), original preserved in the video collection Stadt in Bewegung (Swiss Social Archive and Memoriav), but not avaiable online. For sale on DVD, together with the brochure “Züri brännt,” at the Videoladen or from any bookstore.

The video film of the Zurich youth riots of the 1980s: street riots, nude protests, punk music, lived autonomy. The Zurich movement renounced Zurich’s puritanism and demanded life, space, money—all of it, and right now!

Voice-over commentary
It took a long time for Zurich to catch fire, but when it finally did, there was nothing to fuel the flames. Concrete won’t burn. Top security prisons won’t burn either; they’re modern—no more burning at the stake today. Our desolate playgrounds, decorated with plastic Hollywood monsters are also modern, rectangular, and gray. Everything here is  neatly under control and fits into the normal run of things—like all things, which are smooth, bare, and clean. A barren desert lies under industrial mist, skyscrapers rise in simple elegance, a cold world, devoid of life. The monotonous sound of footsteps echoes from empty corridors as civil servants go about their work; vast tarmacked areas surround shopping centers, as empty and contented as a father’s mind on Sunday afternoon. But down below, the plaster is starting to crumble, where modest trickles from Kleenex-cleaned asses dribble into stinking sewers, the rats have been living and breeding happily for some time now. They speak a new language, and when this language is brought out into the light, all that’s said will no longer be done, black-and-white not necessarily be right, old and new will blend into one. Cripples, queers, winos, junkies, eyeties, blacks, terrorists, arsonists, tramps, jailbirds, women, and all kinds of dream peddlers will gather to bury their fathers.