A creative feature length documentary by ZimmerFrei

If for everybody CERN means the biggest worldwide particle physics research center, for ZimmerFrei it is something else: the most extraordinary social and human experiment based on meritocracy and sharing values. ‘Almost Nothing’ shows this hidden side of CERN.

About the director

ZimmerFrei is an artists’ collective founded in Bologna by Massimo Carozzi, Anna de Manincor and Anna Rispoli in the year 2000. ZimmerFrei artistic practice ranges from video art to documentary films, sound and environmental installations, as well as photography, performances, workshops and public art projects.

Mixing formal languages, ZimmerFrei produces kaleidoscopic sonic and visual works that investigate real and imaginary urban environments, exploring the boundaries between public spaces and private territory.


Science is the wide open field where logic connects with philosophy, mathematics clashes against politics, geometry gets rid of experience and computing can bring us into the exciting territories of the unknown. Science fiction films are the western movies of our generation.

When ZimmerFrei filmmakers group entered CERN for the first time we discovered a universe that looked very normal at first sight, a big campus animated with people of every sort and age, a general sense of understatement and open-minded courtesy informing human interactions, so different from the conflictive environment to which we are used to in our cities. CERN citadel looks like a social and human experiment in itself, where the collaboration and integration model has to be tested and reaffirmed day after day. Somehow the image of an utopian village came to our mind. Anybody working at CERN is very proud to underline its multi-cultural nature, its antimilitarist foundation in the aftermath of the early fifties, its particular form of coopetition (collaboration + competition), the horizontal meritocracy, and the inherent culture of gender and religion diversity.

Are these statements a mere wish or an established matter of fact? Our film confronts this optimism and sincere sense of loyalty with the extreme high pressure of the working context and a sort of melancholia unintentionally leaking out some moments of silence, some hesitations or the peculiar shyness of very competent people used to express themselves in a different language.

Almost Nothing observes the daily life of a community as an organism where the life of each individual is interwoven with the development of science, harsh and cruel judgement of the community of peers, ever-changing political framework, constant struggle against the attempts of private interests, misunderstanding of media and economic constraints.

Almost Nothing is a choral film about a scientific community speaking the discreet language of experimental research, facing daily life challenges and trying to resist the assaults of the ruthless show-biz world we created ourselves.

Festival Note

"Once upon a time, there was a citadel, established on the Franco-Swiss border, called CERN. According to Alvaro de Rujula, one of the eminences of the scientific fellowship that “runs the shop”, dare we say it, physicists are more “modest” than architects, building their cathedrals underground. A little later on, another one claims, without laughing, that “the most momentous discoveries were probably made in the cafeteria.” We get it, Anna de Manincor and the ZimmerFrei collective (La Beauté c’est ta tête, VdR, 2014) run counter to the films habitually devoted to this institution. They leave the “Higgs boson” or “gravitational waves” in the background to spotlight the humans who are working away in this maze of corridors, cables and high-precision metal parts, seeking “almost nothing.” A sharp, and sometimes humorous, look at the life of this rather particular community, a real human and social experiment whose participants seem to invent the operating rules every day." - Emmanuel Chicon,  Visions du Réel


Directed by Anna de Manincor | ZimmerFrei

Writer - Anna de Manincor, Anna Rispoli

Editor - Anna de Manincor, Davide Pepe

Dop - Roberto Beani

Music & Sound design - Massimo Carozzi

Awards & festivals

Visions du Réel, Nyon (CH)

Biografilm, Bologna (IT)

PerSo, Perugia Social Film Festival, Perugia (IT)

DocsMX, Mexico City (MX)

Bergamo Scienza, Bergamo (IT)

Signes de Nuits, Paris (FR)

Production details

Duration: 74'

Co-produced with Bo Film (IT), Tita Productions (FR)

With the support of Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo – Direzione Generale Cinema, Regione Emilia-Romagna Film Commission, Région Provence-Alpes-Cote

In partnership with Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image animée (CNC), France Télévisions, France 3 Auvergne Rhone Alpes, PROCIREP

Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF)

With the support of the Tax Shelter System of the Belgian Federal Government

Language: English, French, Italian

Subtitles: Italian, English, French, Dutch