King of the Airs

About the Film


With his friend's diary, Ivo Zen tells the story of his generation - a story of friendship and the longing to fly higher than anyone else. The film plunges into a time when both were on the threshold of adulthood. The writing of texts and the production of pictures was central. Like many young people from the 1990s generation, Martin and Ivo were torn between the impulse to expect more from life than it could offer and the desire to break out. The transition into adult life was a threshold that was accompanied not only by hopes but also by losses and fears. Ivo Zen survived. Martin Felix died of his addiction at the age of 34. The question of "why" fades into the background. Beyond the chronicle of a youth, Ivo Zen's search for traces becomes a mirror of a society marked by prosperity and order, in which denial and self-destruction still have something tempting about them today.


Jean-Claude Campell,

Jean-Claude Campell,

«I think that to a large extent my need to get high, to get stoned, was a way of repressing the fact that I shirked my responsibility towards my mother when she was dying. Unfortunately it took me 20 years to realize that.» Jean-Claude Campell, Ivo’s oldest friend
Ivan Beer

Ivan Beer

«Every life that’s worthwhile comes with a risk. Martin took it. He took a big risk and paid the price.» Ivan Beer, school friend
Martin Felix

Martin Felix

«Pull yourself together! What a great expression! Life is a jewel.» Martin Felix
Ivo Zen

Ivo Zen

«We both aimed high, we wanted to fly away where nobody would be able to follow us. Until the fear crept in of not being up to life’s demands.» Ivo Zen, director
Christine Felix

Christine Felix

«After Martin died, after he was buried, I would observe the young people in town and think: You’re all so alive, so alive! It sounds silly now, but those are the thoughts I had at the time.» Christine Felix, mother
Katarina V.

Katarina V.

«I liked the fact that Martin loved me. He was a sort of big brother to me, he protected me when I was mistreated and looked after me in the streets»
Martin Ghisletti

Martin Ghisletti

«I could have taken Martin to our summerhouse, and kept him away from drugs for a few months. Why didn’t I do it? I don’t know.» Martin Ghisletti, Schulfreund



Ivo Zen was born and raised in Santa Maria, in the Val Müstair. He left the remote valley at the age of 15 to go to high school in Chur. After a somewhat turbulent gap year, he enrolled to study architecture at the ETH in Zurich, where he became acquainted with video and photography. He quit after two years and worked in a bookstore. During this time he started making experimental films. He began his Super 8 film journal in 1996. Ivo Zen graduated from the Geneva film school in 2003. The following year he co-founded the independent production house Alva Film. He gave several workshops in documentary filmmaking at the University of Art and Design (HEAD) in Geneva. In 2010 he became president of the group “Cineasts independents rumantschs”, promoting the interests of Romansh filmmakers. He has twice been the recipient of the Graubünden canton’s grant for artists. Ivo Zen is married and lives in Zurich with his wife and two children.


Best Film Music
Max Ophüls
Preis 2017
Official Selection
Filmtage 2017



Ivo Zen

Christine Felix

Ivan Beer

Martin Ghisletti

Katarina V.

Lorenz Felix

Jean-Claude Campell




Ivo Zen


Ivo Zen

Hercli Bundi


Tania Stöcklin


Ulrich Grossenbacher

Location Sound

Ivo Schläpfer, Mike Lawson


Ilja Komarov, Trixa Arnold

Music Archives

Disco Doom, Fragment

Voice Martin German

Flurin Giger

Voice Ivo

Henrik Zimmermann

Voice Ivo English

Kaleo La Belle


Hercli Bundi


Mira Film

Associate Producer

Vadim Jendreyko

Production Manager

Peter Zwierko

Marketing and Outreach

Susanne Guggenberger


Andromeda Film

Color Grading

Paul Avondet

Sound Mix

Daniel Hobi


Christof Steinmann, Magnetix


Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRG SSR

Commissioner SRF

Urs Augstburger

With financial support of

Zürcher Filmstiftung

Kulturförderung Kanton Graubünden

Fachausschuss Film und Medienkunst BS/BL

Kulturfonds Suissimage

Bundesamt für Kultur

Succès Passage Antenne

Ernst Göhner Stiftung

UBS Kulturstiftung

Stiftung Bündner Suchthilfe

Stiftung Stavros S. Niarchos, Chur

Stadt Chur

Beitragsfonds der Graubündner Kantonalbank

Developped within Sources 2

Technical Details







Aspect Ratio






Original Language

German, English


German, English, French