Caged Birds (Oliver Rihs) Switzerland, Germany. Official Section

Caged Birds
Oliver Rihs
Switzerland, Germany. 2019. 118 min

For sure a notorious criminal, but also a Robin Hood-like figure, and a Swiss counter-culture icon: Walter Stürm. The man was the king of prison-breaks in the country, managing no less than 8 times to flee Swiss prison between 1974 and 1995, while – strangely enough – maintaining a sense of anarchic humour throughout. One time, fleeing the prison around Easter in 1981, he left a note saying: „Searching for easter eggs, Stürm”.

The prize he paid for his not-to-typical-swiss catch-me-if-you-can-personality were years of solitaire confinement, drawing the attention of the left-wing political scene in Switzerland and Germany. An idealistic lawyer, Barbara Hug, sees her chance to use his popularity to reform a Swiss penal system. In their common fate this drama finds its core.


Oliver Rihs grew up near Lake Zurich in Switzerland, and worked for several years as an advertising graphic designer, care assistant for the elderly and punk rock singer, until he discovered the medium of film for himself. This followed to experimental video art works, documentary TV reports for Swiss television (SF1), music clips and first short films.

Since 1999, Rihs has been living in Berlin, realizing mainly cinema movies as a director. Parallel he founded the Berlin Film Production Company Port-au-Prince Film & Kultur Produktion GmbH in 2007, and accompanied feature film projects as a creative producer and co-writer.

The introduction of the successful cult comedy SCHWARZE SCHAFE (BLACK SHEEP) in Germany, has given Rihs the reputation of one of the most gifted comedy directors in the country.

In Switzerland, he is known primarily through his hit movie ACHTUNG, FERTIG, WK! (ATTENTION, READY, OMMM!)


1999 FREMDE DA DRAUSSEN (short fiction)

2000 RICCARD (Drama / GAFF Productions)

2001 LILIEN (short fiction / arsen film)

2002 BROMBEERCHEN (Feature Film / Fama Film AG)

2006 BLACK SHEEP (Feature Film / OliwoodProductions / Koboi film)

2010 DATING LANZELOT (8-part comedy webisode for the German Telekom)

2011 DATING LANZELOT (feature film version of the webisode for Pro7)

2013 READY, STEADY, OMMM! (Feature Film / 92 Minutes / Zodiac Pictures AG)


  • Award for Best Swiss advertising film director EDI (Spot LOVE / Zurich Film Foundation)
  • Best Short Film Locarno International Film Festival (LILIEN)
  • MDR Director’s Award (SCHWARZE SCHAFE)
  • New German Cinema Price Filmfestival Hof (SCHWARZE SCHAFE)
  • Studio Babelsberg producer price (SCHWARZE SCHAFE)
  • The most successful Swiss Film Prize 2013 Succes Zurich (ACHTUNG, FERTIG, WK!)