The spy thriller “Davos” is set in a luxury sanatorium during World War I. There were exclusive insights at the Berlinale.
Davos is where the powerful meet and enjoy the view of the mountain panorama when they are not debating the war in Europe.
But for once, it’s not about the WEF but about the six-part series “Davos”, which will be shown on SRF and ARD next winter. It goes back to the First World War when the soldiers died in the trenches and Kaiser Wilhelm II reserved rooms in the Graubünden luxury sanatorium on the Schatzalp for several years in case of tuberculosis.
“For a Swiss series, ‘Davos’ had an enormous run right from the start.”
Ivan Madeo, Contrast Film
Filming will continue until March above Davos in Germany and South Tyrol. Stefan Eichenberger and Ivan Madeo from Contrast Film travelled to the Berlinale simultaneously to create a buzz. They want to sell the series overseas this week, although that’s only sometimes the case with an unfinished production. But at “Davos”, the situation could be different.
For a Swiss series, “Davos” had a huge run right from the start, says Madeo in a hotel lobby. In 2019 it was the first local series to be presented at the Berlinale; since then, the creators have been invited to renowned fabric development labs, where Swiss productions rarely make it into the finals. And now the first brand new teaser for the “Showcase” at the Berlinale Series Market is ready.
Stefan Eichenberger opens his laptop in the lobby: “Davos” will be a quality series in the Graubünden mountain air, as the teaser quickly makes clear. The series takes place almost exclusively in Switzerland: a nurse from the region (Dominique Devenport) returns pregnant from the front after working for the Red Cross. But her father, the sanatorium director, has her illegitimate child taken away because she is no longer worth anything on the marriage market with such a brat. To win back her child, the young woman agrees to spy for the German secret service – supported by a master agent.
‘Davos’ is almost half financed from abroad.”
Stefan Eichenberger, Contrast Film
The teaser promises a lot, a female agent drama, a female emancipation story with a mentor, and a secret service thriller amid European political and military conflicts.
Switzerland is hardly perceived internationally as a series country, says producer Eichenberger. But “Davos” is almost half financed from abroad and is of interest for various reasons. Because of the alpine setting, of course, which reminds buyers of James Bond. But also because of the cross-border plot with thriller ingredients suitable for series production. And the references to the present, where the war again raises questions about the future of Europe.
In Switzerland, the series still needs to be bigger and more local, says Ivan Madeo. It would be surprising, but not unthinkable, for a streaming giant like Netflix to step up at the Berlinale to acquire additional world rights. According to Eichenberger, the streamer usually wants to buy the rights for his series for the whole world. But “Davos” will first run on SRF and ARD; that’s clear. The series is so Swiss, after all.
“Davos”, six episodes, from winter 2023.
Pascal Blum studied sociology and history and has been a culture editor since 2014. He has written a book chapter about Heidi in the film.