Ventura Film SA – Ammann – Der Brückenbauer [Ammann - The Bridge Builder] by Martin Witz


In 1904 the young Swiss engineer Othmar H. Ammann left Switzerland and began his career in New York as a bridge builder. Ammann was especially known for the construction of the George Washington Bridge (1931) and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (1964), both of which were ranked as the longest suspension bridges in the world at the time of their respective inaugurations. President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Ammann the National Medal of Science – the first time a civil engineer had received the award – and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich conferred on him an honorary doctorate. Amman created icons of modernity and redefined the art of bridge building with his gigantic constructions.

Using extensive archival material, including diaries and love letters, interviews with contemporaries and experts, as well as spectacular aerial photographs, director Martin Witz relates Ammann's astonishing saga. Over and above the story of Ammann, the film opens up a panorama of the young twentieth century with its belief in technical progress. It also depicts the almost mythical sky walkers, the steelworkers – mainly Native Americans from the Mohawk tribe – who still today risk their lives at dangerous heights.

Martin Witz won the Zürcher Filmpreis in 2007 with Dutti der Riese [Dutti the Giant], and The Substance: Albert Hofmann's LSD was nominated for the Schweizer Filmpreis in 2012. These films, also produced by Ventura Film, portray unusual Swiss men and their work against the background of their historical and social context.

The Foundation Board awards a project grant of CHF 30,000 for the production of the documentary film.