Nicole Biermaier, Head of Swiss Distribution

Nicole Biermaier, Head of Swiss Distribution

Born 1971 to a French speaking mother and a German father, lives and works in Zurich. Nicole spent some significant years of working and wandering in London and Paris.

She holds a Master of Arts and studied in Zurich at the Media Art department where she focused on interactive video, film, text, sound and experimented at the Film Department with 16mm essay film. At the University of Arts & ZKM in Karlsruhe it got even better, and she focused on experimental, essayistic documentary film. 2008-2010 Nicole researched at the Master class of Fine Arts within the field of expanded cinema.

Throughout all of that, Nicole earned her living in a number of well-known international companies with administrational work. She used the knowledge gained in such an economical environment for her production work within the arts. Since 2000, Nicole has been developing and conducting many works in the field of art, theatre or film. Her projects have been exhibited and screened internationally. At the same time she was teaching and mentoring at the Universities in Bern and Zurich.

Since June 2015 Nicole is part of the team at First Hand Films. She is happy to say goodbye to a time where earning money consisted of having 7 jobs or projects simultaneously and has many ideas for a fruit- and colourful future at the firm.

Esther van Messel, Founder & CEO

Esther van Messel, Founder & CEO

Born 1965 in Vienna, lives in Switzerland and holds a Bachelor’s degree in film & television production and in history from the University of Tel Aviv.

In 1990, she joined Warner Bros. Israel and became Head of Distribution. From 1992 she produced international feature films and documentaries as Head of Co-Production and Sales for an independent production company in Zurich.

In 1998, Esther van Messel founded her own company First Hand Films in Zurich and Berlin for world sales of documentaries and fiction films. First Hand Films acts as executive producer for selected projects.

Esther van Messel has been working as a lecturer and consultant for various organisations like EAVE Brussels, IDFA Forum Amsterdam, Cinemart Rotterdam, Eurodoc Paris, Avea Johannesburg, Eureka Warsaw and Tallinn, Another Finland, TV Media Business School Barcelona, Discovery Campus Munich, F&S Screen Training Ireland, the Filmacademy Ludwigsburg, the Erich Pommer Institut and the Austrian Parliament, a.o.

She was an appointed member of the Selection Committee for the Austrian Film Institute and served on several juries like Golden Link EBU and Nordisk Filmpanorama.

Since 1999 she co-owns Vertical Strategy Ltd. in Leipzig together with Björn Koll from Edition Salzgeber Berlin. Esther van Messel is fluent in English, German, French, Dutch, Hebrew, and not yet in Danish. Since 1992 and 1995 she is raising a daughter and a son. She rides a Hornet 900.