Esther van Messel, born 1965 in Vienna, lives in Switzerland and holds a Bachelor's degree in film & television production and in history from the University of Tel Aviv. In 1990, she joined Warner Bros. Israel and became Head of Distribution. From 1992, she produced international feature films and documentaries as Head of Co- Production and Sales for an independent production company in Zurich. Since 1998, Esther van Messel runs her own company - FIRST HAND FILMS – in Zurich and Berlin. FHF represents close to 300 hand-picked films and 200 producers from all over the world and acts as Executive Producer for selected projects and is present at all major festivals around the year. Since 2013, FHF also distributes films theatrically in Swiss cinemas. Today, First Hand Films have been seen by many millions of people. First Hand Films have competed in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam, Locarno, San Sebastian, Sundance, Toronto and many other festivals. Its very first pick-up went on to receive the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Since then, most First Hand Films have won awards: Emmy, Prix Europa, numerous IDFA main awards, Biarritz, Banff, Grimme, Grand Prix Nyon, National Film Awards, European Film Awards, Silver Leopards, Golden Rose Montreux and more.