A few days after the broadcast of a documentary reporting violence committed within a religious school founded by the former director of Läderach, the Swiss chocolatier suffered the consequences: the end of the collaboration with the Zurich Film Festival .
The festival, which will take place from September 28 to October 8, announced on Saturday evening that it had decided with Läderach to end their partnership, after the broadcast of the documentary by the Swiss public channel SRF which “upset everyone”. “Although no blame is placed on the current management of Läderach, the suffering of the alleged victims is nevertheless associated with the name of the family and the company. Through this decision, we wish to ensure together that only the pleasure of cinema is at the center of the festival,” wrote the festival management in a press release.
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The documentary, broadcast last week by SRF, reports systematic violence against students at the evangelical school in Kaltbrunn, in the canton of St. Gallen (east). The school was founded in 1995 by Jurg Läderach, former president of the chocolate company. According to the documentary, he is accused of having beaten students himself, which he categorically denies. The company was founded 60 years ago by Jurg's father, Rudolf, and now has more than 1,000 employees and more than 100 stores in 15 countries.
In an interview with the daily Tages-Anzeiger, Johannes Läderach, son of Jurg and current director of the company, said he himself was a student at this school. Although he claims to have never been beaten there, he says he “experienced the climate of fear”. He insisted that the current management wanted transparency on possible violence, and had ordered an external investigation a few years ago. This investigation resulted in a report describing “a theology of fear” and a “culture of denunciation, manipulation and threats,” according to the documentary.