Fribourg, April, 3rd, 2017 (FIFF). The 31st Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) opened on Friday evening to a full house. The audience had the chance to see the Swiss Premiere of The Eagle Huntress, a documentary by the British filmmaker Otto Bell about the unusual life of Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Mongolia's first female eagle trainer.

Marco Solari, President of the Locarno Festival, kicked off proceedings for the 31st FIFF. In his speech, Marco Solari praised FIFF as a festival with "fundamental human values and solidarity".

The FIFF President, François Nordmann, said that he was very proud to welcome Marco Solari to open the FIFF. He paid tribute to the "dynamic, quality-driven, passionate, indefatigable long-time friend of the Festival and gentleman of the Swiss film world". This year the Locarno Festival is celebrating its 70th year, and the FIFF President wanted to mark the anniversary by paying homage "to the pioneer and father of all Switzerland's festivals" and underline the "major part it has played in the field since 1947, as a driving force, a role model, a beacon and a bastion of our country's film industry". François Nordmann then welcomed the presence of writer Douglas Kennedy, who he described as a "great champion of the humanist values of American civilisation, values that are in fact shared by us all: freedom; solidarity; equality amongst all people, without discrimination; human fraternity; openness; tolerance; democracy; and the pursuit of happiness". Values which the FIFF President reminded us have "recently come under attack".

Thierry Jobin, Artistic Director of the FIFF, spoke after Marco Solari to evoke the importance of festivals in a society that claims to be open: "It is dangerous to limit the most popular art, cinema, to productions from the US and Europe, as they only represent a billion people. That would be to deprive ourselves of the view points and realities of 6 billion people, whose cinematic work is often, as is particularly the case in South Asia for example, more breathtaking, inventive and necessary than the films with which we are overrun.  Our ignorance of more than three quarters of humanity gives rise to the most absurd alternative facts. Festivals that take risks like Locarno and Fribourg act as safeguards".

It is also for all these reasons that SIGNIS and INTERFILM have ecumenical juries in Fribourg and Locarno.

For more information on the FIFF programme, click here.