Above and Below

Festival Guest International Feature

German Film Awards 2016 - Best Documentary & Best Cinematography

Munich Int. Doc. Festival (DOK.fest) 2015 - German Documentary Music Award

Swiss Film Prize 2016 - Best Documentary, Sound & Editing

Blurring the lines between fiction and documentary, this mesmerising and beautifully shot film follows five survivors through their daily hustle in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world – although the reality is that they are simply living on the margins of contemporary America. Moving from a Mars simulation in the Utah desert to an abandoned military bunker in California to the flood tunnels of Las Vegas, the film has an ethereal otherworldly feel that is counterpointed by the deeply felt humanity it grants its diverse cast of misfits. Above and Below is all the more remarkable given that it is Swiss director Steiner’s graduation film. His ability to find transcendent beauty and poetry in the grit and dirt of America’s broken wastelands marks him as a major cinematic talent.

Cape Town
V&A 6
Sat 2 June / 6pm + Q&A
V&A 4
Sat 9 June / 3pm extra screening
Sat 9 June / 5.30pm + Q&A
Nicolas Steiner
118 minutes


Nicolas Steiner Director

Nicolas Steiner was born in 1984 in Switzerland and grew up in a small village in Valais, the Southern Mountain part of Switzerland. During his time at high school he worked as a gravedigger, played drums in various bands and did his military service as an army percussionist. In 2005/06 he attended the European Film College in Denmark before studying Ethnology and Film Studies for a year at the University of Zurich. As of 2007 he learnt a director‘s handicraft at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg. His successful short, “It’s me. Helmut” was shown at over 240 festivals in all five continents and received 42 prizes and honorary mentions, including a nomination for the 2010 German Short Film Prize. “It’s me. Helmut” was screened at museum and gallery exhibitions of his photography. In 2010 he received a Fulbright scholarship to San Francisco Art Institute, where he dedicated most of his time to analogue photography and developing board games. He spent 2014 as Valais Canton’s Artist in Residence in Brooklyn, NYC. “Above and Below” is his Film Academy graduation piece and also his feature-length directorial debut.