Facts & Figures

  • Founded in Zurich (1998) and Berlin (1999) by Esther van Messel, to produce and distribute independent fiction and documentary films for television and cinema.
  • Present at all major festivals around the year, with meeting and screening facilities at stands at the main markets.
  • Represents about 300 films and their makers from all over the world. First Hand Films have competed in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Locarno, Sundance, Nyon, Toronto and most other major festivals. Its first pick-up went on to receive the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Since then, almost all First Hand Films have won awards: Emmy, Prix Europa, Joris Ivens and Silver Wolf (Winners Amsterdam), Biarritz, Banff, Grimme-Preis, Grand Prix Nyon, Leipzig, many National Film Awards, European Film Awards, Silver Leopards Locarno, Golden Roses and more.
  • Billy Wilder said, upon hearing that he had won yet another one: “Awards are like hemorrhoids, sooner or later every ass-hole gets them,” – but we’re proud and happy for our filmmakers for every recognition they receive.