"I needed some kind of recycling after each film, and this was the situation when we came to Santa Monica," he said. "I went to the academy and read scripts. I love Frank Capra films, and Kurosawa is very important to me, especially 'Rashomon,' with its four different points of view. All good books and films influence you anyway.
"You want to give a story a certain beat. We're always a little too slow in Europe; we try to do too many things at the same time. My stay here was very important because I went to the cinema almost every day. I try to follow the inner lives of my characters and then try to find ways to express them visually--not the other way around. I try to minimize the amount of information needed. Film, I think, is like a piece of music; it should have the structure of a symphony."
Currently, Koller is preparing the film he dropped in favor of "Journey of Hope." It is based on the novel "Eclipse of the Moon" by the late Friedrich Duerrenmatt. "It is the basic story of 'The Visit,' which he changed when he made it into a play," he said. "A guy comes back to his home rather than a woman, like in the play, and while people kill for money, it is not a story of revenge but of passion and love. It must be made with an international cast, or I won't do it. It will be like a big, strong painting. It will help blow the borders of Switzerland."
That's something Koller might like to do himself. Whereas he has come to international acclaim with a film about people striving to get into Switzerland, he himself is not at all averse to leaving it. "It is important to go back to your roots to figure out who you are," he said. "But Switzerland is also a very good country to leave, for otherwise your mind narrows."