Scene from the film Scissere
Scene from the film Scissere
Scene from the film Scissere
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With Scissere, Mettler completed his education in film and photography at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto ( now Ryerson University). The film is based on his experiences during a one-year stay as an observer in rehabilitation centre for heroin addicts in Neuchatel (Switzerland). During his visit he met the young Bruno Sciessere - a meeting especially decisive for the film. Bruno had spent many years of his life in psychiatric clinics, because he was unable to comprehend the intrinsically chaotic world as an orderly social system. Scissere is dedicated to him.

The film opens with a 12- minute montage sequence of impressionistic images. Shots of the sky, colourfully abstract woods and dancing light reflections on the water's surface are technically so estranged that graphic and textural qualities of nature are thrown into relief. Gradually the abstract images become representational, and the film leads us into the deserted corridors of a psychiatric clinic which a young man is just leaving. In an expanded moment of confrontation with reality beyond the clinic's walls, he imagines himself perceiving as three different people, who, parallel in time but independently of each other, spend a day in Toronto: a heroin addict committing a theft to obtain his dose; a young mother enjoying a free day in town, and an elderly entomologist in his laboratory discovering an unusual species of moth. They all live in their identified classified systems, seeking ways of identity and stability. In the final shots the four characters gather in a subway station. Unaware of each other, they are united for a brief moment by the framework of the film images.

Fragmented stories and ways of perception are approached by employing estranging film techniques: animated photographs, combinations of slow motion with stop motion effects, sequences immersed in cool blue, diverse qualities of film stock. Together with the associative sound track featuring choral music, voices whispering, noises and rhythmic sounds they build an audio-visual composition which lets the sparse dialogue fade into the background.

Just as the young man is seeking to affirm his identity, filmmaker Peter Mettler searches for his own cinematic form. In his first long film Mettler explores a free form of filmmaking that will become essential to his later work; a reflective manner of handling the medium, a discussion of tensions and associations and a non-linear narrative form demanding the audience's active participation.


  • Original Title
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Peter Mettler
  • Cinematography
    Peter Mettler
  • Editing
    Peter Mettler
  • Music
    Meredith Monk; Ramayana Monkey Chant; Max Roach; Ornette Coleman; Gregorian Chant; Bruno Degazio
  • Sound
    Peter Mettler
  • Runtime
    88 min (46-90 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Canada
  • Format
    • Colour
    • Black & White
  • Production
      • Collaborative Effort Productions
      • Canada
  • Distribution is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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