In Switzerland, land of peace and neutrality, military service is compulsory. In Section, Marche! (CHE) we will dive in the Colombier Infantry Recruit School (Switzerland), meeting a group of soldiers and their officers. The series offers a refreshing perspective on the hopes, dreams, fears and limits of young soldiers.

Section, Marche! writer-director Frédéric Favre spoke to Melbourne Webfest, detailing the challenges that came with creating a web series that is based in the unique setting of an Infantry Recruit School in Switzerland.

How did you come to decide on the subject matter for your web series?

I wanted to talk about my country, about an aspect of its identity and my memories and experiences of the swiss military service when I was twenty. I wanted to revisit this Swiss institution and see if it had changed in twenty years. Also maybe confront a trauma linked with this experience of authority and violence.

What were the challenges of filming in an Infantry Recruit School?

Many! Physical, psychological and ethical…

Physical: I did all the physical exercises with the recruits, all the hard walks on the mountain (the 50km walk for example).

Psychological: It was hard to confront the authority and go through the shield you build when you are In the army. The platoon destroys the individuality and I was looking for characters that were the opposite of uniformity. It was a challenge to “save” the individuality in this context. Just to have one to one interviews with the recruits, cause they are always busy and on the move, under orders.

Ethical: I am deeply a pacifist and not very keen on the concept of the army. So it was hard to find my place in this world. Thankfully, I had a lot of support from my producers and they gave me their complete trust! Also, a friend and colleague, Jeff Vercasson was with me to help and support and this was priceless.

Section, Marche! Trailer

Did anything unexpected happen?

Alexandri happened! I didn’t expect such a character still existed in the army today.

How long have you been working on your series?

Two years.

What emotions did you feel when you completed the series? 

I was relieved and proud.

What do you hope the audience takes away from your web series?

  1. A new vision of a Swiss institution, with a more comedic angle than expected.
  2. To see what true motivation is (with the character of Margaux) and when you know what to fight for. When you fight for values you can overcome mountains. Margaux fights for values, she fights to prove a point, she wants to prove that women are equal to men. It’s crystal clear in her mind, this gives her an incredible strength!
  3. No matter what you do, you cannot destroy the individuality of a person.

What is the web series community like in Switzerland?

Very powerful, we beat record audience numbers on Swiss national TV.