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Jo Siffert: Live Fast - Die Young (2005)

In 1971 50,000 people mourned in the streets of Fribourg, Switzerland: Jo "Seppi" Siffert had died in a crash at Brands Hatch (GB). Until today, Jo Siffert is considered to be one of the ten best racing drivers ever.


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Credited cast:
Adiano Cimarosti
Jaques Deschenaux
Antonietto Fossatti
Peter Gethin
Jack W. Heuer
Heini Mader
Adélaide Siffert
Jo Siffert
Philippe Siffert
Siffert Veronique


In 1971 50,000 people mourned in the streets of Fribourg, Switzerland: Jo "Seppi" Siffert had died in a crash at Brands Hatch (GB). Until today, Jo Siffert is considered to be one of the ten best racing drivers ever. Siffert was a popular as well as glamorous star who, shortly after his death, became a legend. The film follows the different stages in Jo Sifferts career and accompanies him from his humble beginnings to his great successes on the international racing circuits - literally, from rags to riches. Using and reviving the style of the 70s, the film interweaves authentic material with the memories of the protagonists, and creates a gripping image of those days.. Written by Christof Neracher

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A tribute to the Swiss racing legend




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Release Date:

26 October 2005 (Switzerland)  »

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CHF 600,000 (estimated)

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A little guy from a small country who made it (relatively) big
2 August 2006 | by (Zurich, Switzerland) – See all my reviews

This is a very accomplished and moving documentary about Swiss racing legend Jo Siffert. He hailed from a town that is right on the language border (and he continued living there until his death), he spoke French and German dialect with equal ease, he was at once shy and charming. In short, he was, and probably still is, one of the few Swiss idols with an universal appeal.

The documentary is of interest on different levels. As far as the Swiss angle is concerned, it gives an idea about what it meant to be poor in Switzerland (please allow me to use the past tense here) and how hard it was to make it on your own, as Siffert did. He always was his own manager or agent and for quite some time relied on a group of racing enthusiasts, mostly from his home town. One of them let the makers of this documentary use his extensive super 8 footage which shows the crew „on tour" throughout Europe and eventually in the USA.

Thanks to the use of historical newsreel and TV footage, the viewers can experience how Siffert's ascent coincided with shifts in popular culture. He represented a kind of „coolness" and a seemingly carefree lifestyle which I guess was then new for my country. He was also identified, in a way, with the counter culture of 1968. He became friends with scrap iron sculptor Jean Tinguely, and a renowned counter culture highbrow journalist wrote a long essay about him. At the same time he was a shrewd and gifted businessman who helped make large scale sponsoring acceptable in racing. As well as being a driver in the Porsche racing team, he opened a dealership of that brand of cars in his home town. As a matter of fact, his mixing global activity with an apparently strong loyalty to a specific locality could still set an example for many business people around the globe.

As always in films related to racing, there is also a philosophical component in this documentary. Why did the guy do what he did? Are there people who just live fast? In the case of Siffert this seems to have been the case. Those interviewed who knew him well say that he always wanted to do several things at one time, that he lived intensively in every aspect, as if he knew that there was not much time left for him. His ending, tragic as it was, was foreseeable. The movie deals with this issue with the required tact.

Jo Siffert has cameos in the movies Grand Prix, Le Mans and in the Charles Bronson starrer Città violenta (Violent City). This documentary does him credit.

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