In 2002, Director-Producer Mirjam von Arx founded ican films gmbh, a Zurich-based production and distribution company with a focus on international documentary films. “With our films we want to look at the world from a different angle and take on themes that perplex, move, and also provoke the audience.”
Mirjam von Arx's first foray into the film business was in 1992 with the production of BLUESIANA, Swiss singer Polo Hofer and his SchmetterBand's musical road trip from Memphis to New Orleans. ABXANG followed ten years later. A sequel to BLUESIANA and a cinematic homage to Polo and his band, ABXANG was ican films' first feature-length documentary with a theatrical release.
In 2005 ican films together with Condor Films co-produced the TV documentary REPLAY about Swiss tennis star Roger Federer. The same year, von Arx completed her first long-term documentary BUILDING THE GHERKIN. For four and a half years, von Arx captured the planning and construction of Sir Norman Foster’s controversial London landmark building The Gherkin. Honored with the FIFA Award at the International Arts Film Festival Montreal, the film was a success in the cinema, on television and at festivals.
Next, von Arx produced Swiss filmmaker Thomas Haemmerli's award winning feature documentary SEVEN DUMPSTERS AND A CORPSE. The film stirred up a lot of controversy and gathered strong media responses, for addressing taboos like death in the family and the hoarding phenomenon. It went on to win the Zurich Film Award 2007 as well as the Audience Award at the Duisburg Film Week and was nominated for a Swiss Film Award in 2008.
In 2009 Mirjam von Arx and Katharina Flotow completed SEED WARRIORS. The film documents the story of the safest bunker in the world. In Svalbard, 1000 kilometers from the North Pole, the bunker stores more than three million seed samples from around the world to save them from extinction and to ensure biodiversity. The film was theatrically released in Switzerland, sold worldwide and was nominated for an International Green Film Award during the 2011 Berlinale.
Mirjam von Arx's feature documentary VIRGIN TALES had its world premiere at the 2012 Visions du Réel Festival in Nyon. For two years, the filmmaker and her crew followed the Wilson family, Evangelicals and founders of the Father-Daughter-Purity Balls. Their five daughters all vowed to stay pure until marriage. The film evoked strong audience reaction and garnered a lot of critical acclaim. At the 2012 Woodstock Film Festival editor Sabine Krayenbühl received an honorable mention for her work. The documentary was nominated for the Maysles Brothers Award at the Starz Denver Film Festival, American public radio NPR called VIRGIN TALES one of the “Top 10 Films Worth Going Out of Your Way For!“ and the end of 2012, the film was awarded with the prestigious Zurich Film Award. The documentary has been screening in Swiss cinemas continuously since June 2012, sold to prestigious television stations worldwide and was released on DVD in Switzerland in February 2013.
The same year ican films also produced the animated short film HISTORY OF VIRGINITY by Swiss filmmaker Sophie Haller. Opening as the short before the feature documentary VIRGIN TALES, the short has been playing in Swiss cinemas since the summer of 2012. In addition, it has been touring the festival circuit and was broadcasted on Swiss TV the summer of 2013.
In addition, two more feature documentaries are currently in production:
In THE DAY THE SUN FELL, Swiss Japanese filmmaker Aya Domenig explores the story of her deceased grandfather, a doctor on duty during the bombing of Hiroshima, by following the lives of his colleagues – a doctor and former nurses – who shared the same experience.
Mirjam von Arx's latest film FREEFALLING – A Love Story is a journey into the world of B.A.S.E. Jumping. As she discovers more about this extreme sport, the filmmaker confronts fundamental questions about life and death and contemplates what fear and courage really are.