Zurich Film Festival

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Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) is an annual film festival that has taken place in Zurich at the end of September since 2005. The ZFF has developed rapidly in the few years since its foundation and now attracts a total of 71'000 visitors. The 10th Zurich Film Festival takes place from September 25 - October 5, 2014.

The festival focuses on the presentation and promotion of new director talent from around the world. Only first, second or third directing works are eligible to enter the four competition categories. Particular emphasis is placed on the discovery of new talent from the German-speaking world, with two separate competition categories created solely for this purpose. Films in the competition line-up, as well as those from established filmmakers, are generally presented in person by the film’s creators. In addition to its multifaceted film programme, the festival is also renowned for its top-class side-events programme, which includes the Zurich Master Class and the international Film Finance Forum – events that make ZFF one of the most important international film industry hubs. The main festival award is the Golden Eye, which is awarded in the four competition categories and to the festival’s guests of honour. The ZFF is organised by Spoundation Motion Picture GmbH in cooperation with local institutes and sponsors, and collaborates with domestic and international distributors and producers. The idea to create an international film festival was the brainchild of Karl Spoerri, who founded the festival together with Nadja Schildknecht and Antoine Monot, Jr. Karl Spoerri (Artistic and Strategic Director) and Nadja Schildknecht (Managing Director) are the festival’s current Co-Directors.

Zurich during Zurich Film Festival

History[edit]

In 2004, Karl Spoerri and Tim Geser invited the renowned English digital film festival "onedotzero_adventures in moving image" to Zurich, where it was the guest of Zurich University of the Arts from October 29 – 31, 2004. This small-scale event developed into the Zürich Film Festival and brought together its core team.

In the spring of 2005, Karl Spoerri, Nadja Schildknecht and Antoine Monot, Jr. founded Spoundation Motion Picture GmbH, which has since been responsible for implementing the Zurich Film Festival and is currently managed by Karl Spoerri and Nadja Schildknecht. Karl Spoerri is the ZFF’s Artistic Director.

Theatres 1 – 6 at the cinema Plaza in Zurich’s district 4 provided the venues for the 1st Zurich Film Festival (October 5 – 9, 2005). The festival focussed on “Debuts” and screened approx. 8 premieres in one competition category. Further film line-ups included “Debut Classics” and “Züri Bellevue”. The first festival was well received by the public and attracted 8’000 visitors – the press and film industry reacted with initial scepticism towards the young event.

The 2nd Zurich Film Festival (October 2 – 6, 2006) took place in 2006 at the cinemas corso, Academy and Frosch – the Golden Eye was awarded for the first time in three competition categories (Young Feature Film, Young Documentary Film and Debut Feature Film). Additions to the programme included the ‘New World View’ line-up. The 2nd Zürich Film Festival attracted 18’000 visitors and 600 accredited film industry representatives.

The young festival took a huge leap forward in 2007 by extending its duration to 11 days – the festival’s current length. The films of the 3rd Zurich Film Festival (September 27 to October 7) were screened in the cinemas corso, Capitol, Frosch, Movie and Le Paris located along Zürich’s ‘Film Mile’. More than 50 world, European or Swiss premieres were presented at cinemas distributed along the quayside of Zürich’s river Limmat. The number of visitors rose within three years to 27’000. The Zurich Film Festival boasted a new Festival Centre located in the very heart of the city: A large marquee at Rathausplatz became the meeting point for cinema lovers and film workers. 2007 saw the festival programme expand to include the Zürich Coproduction Forum.

Zurich Film Festival continued to develop in the years between 2008 and 2012, with visitor numbers more than doubling. The cinemas ‘corso’ and ‘Le Paris’ have been the festival’s main screening venues for several years now; the cinema Arena Filmcity joined this list in 2011.

In 2009, Zurich Film Festival suffered a particularly unfortunate blow, which not only cast a shadow over the festival, but also made it known around the globe. Honorary guest Roman Polanski was arrested on arrival in Switzerland and held under house arrest for nine months. He returned to the Zurich Film Festival in 2011 to pick up his award two years later than planned.

In 2011, the Zurich Film Festival was offered guest rights by the city of Zurich to use the Sechseläutenwiese, where a new Festival Centre was erected. The Zurich Opera House became the new venue for the glamorous Award Night. The 2011 Zurich Film Festival attracted 51’000 visitors.

With the onedotzero section, Zurich Film Festival began bringing the most important and innovative festival in the field of digital film to Zürich in 2005. Even as a small independent film festival, the London-based creators were showing works by Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham, long before their names were made known to a wider audience. onedotzero_ch was the Swiss edition of the British festival, which took place within the framework of the Zurich Film Festival until 2011.

The ZFF added two films for children aged 6 and older, and two films for primary school children to its programme for the first time in 2012. Visitor figures reached a record 58’000.

With a total of 71'000 visitors, of these 4000 children and students, the festival has seen a more than 20% increase in viewer numbers in 2013. With 345 screenings of 122 film titles and some 450 national and international guests, Zurich Film Festival has once again experienced considerable growth.

Program and Sections[edit]

Competition[edit]

Categories[edit]

The international competition presents only first, second or third directing works in four categories (each with 8-12 films):

  • International Feature Film Competition
  • German-Language Feature Film Competition
  • International Documentary Film Competition
  • Documentary Competition Germany, Austria, Switzerland

The Golden Eye and Prize Money[edit]

A Golden Eye, the festival’s main award, is up for grabs in each of the four competition categories. Presented during the competition, each Golden Eye is endowed with a 20’000 CHF cash prize. A further 60’000 CHF is available to the distributor for promotional purposes if the film finds a distributor in Switzerland.

Jury Members 2005 - Present[edit]

The Golden Eye is awarded in each category by a separate international jury, who views the film during the festival in Zurich together with the public. The juries are not bound by any particular guidelines, they must, however, award the Golden Eye to just one film per category.

Year Category President Members
2013 International Feature Film Marc Forster Andrew Dominik, Thomas Imbach, Melissa Leo, Guneet Monga, Stacey Sher
International Documentary Film Elizabeth Radshaw Gabriel Mascaro, Ilian Metev, Eugene Panji
German Language Feature Film Veronica Ferres Jochen Laube, Rolf Lyssy, Manuela Stehr
Documentary Film DE, AT, CH Markus Imhoof Tizza Covi, Sabine Gisiger
2012 International Feature Film Frank Darabont Deborah Aquila, Daniél Espinosa, Carlos Leal, Pietro Scalia, Michael Shamberg
International Documentary Film Jessica Yu Mohamed Al-Daradji, Philippe Diaz, Janus Metz
German Language Feature Film Herbert Grönemeyer Peter Luisi, Florian Flicker, Julia Jentsch, Marcel Hoehn
German Language Documentary Film Gabriele Kranzelbinder Martin Hagemann, Stefan Haupt, Mirjam von Arx
2011 International Feature Film Laurence Fishburne Beki Probst, John Lesher, Paprika Steen, Alice Eve, Stefan Arsenjevic
International Documentary Film - Charles Ferguson, John Battsek, Stephen Nemeth, Eline Flipse, Nino Kirtadze
German Language Feature Film - Xavier Koller, Florian Keller, Pasquale Aleardi, Janine Jackowski, Florian Causen
German Language Documentary Film - Jacqueline Zünd, Christian Beetz, Güzin Kar, Vincent Lucassen
2010 International Feature Film Frank Langella Julia Solomonoff, Carlos Cuaron, Anatole Taubman, Sharon Swart, Barry Gifford
International Documentary Film - Chris Paine, Nenad Puhovski, Mark Lewis, Heidi Specogna, Jennifer Fox
German Language Feature Film - Johanna Wokalek, Christoph Schaub, Christof Neracher, Jessica Hausner, Frieder Wittich
2009 International Feature Film Debra Winger Pawel Pawlikowski, Randal Kleiser, Anahi Berneri, Dale Launer
International Documentary Film - Peter Liechti, Erwin Wagenhofer, Elizabeth Wood
German Language Feature Film - Niki Reiser, Martin Rapold, This Brunner
2008 International Feature Film Peter Fonda Stephen Nemeth, Dror Shaul, Hervé Schneid, Michael Dougherty, Andrea Staka
International Documentary Film - Walter Hügli, Lorna Tee, Christian Frei
2007 International Feature and Documentary Film Albert S. Ruddy Moritz Bleibtreu, Justus von Dohnanyi, Bettina Oberli, Matthew Modine, Dieter Meier
2006 International Feature and Documentary Film Ed Pressman Jessica Schwarz, This Brunner, Ueli Steiger, Oliver Hirschbiegel
2005 International Feature and Documentary Film Helmuth Karasek Sabine Timoteo, Michael Steiner, Sigried Narjes, Shane Walter

Competition Winners 2005 - Present[edit]

The Zurich Film Festival presents its Golden Eye awards to the winning directors in each category on the last Saturday of the event during a festive Award Night ceremony at the Zurich Opera House. Additional awards are conferred by the Swiss Association of Film Journalists (SVFJ) and the public (Audience Award).

Year Award Film Director Country
2013 International Feature Film La jaula de oro Diego Quemada-Díez Spain
International Documentary Film Lej en familie A/S/ Kaspar Astrup Schroeder Denmark
German Language Feature Film Finsterworld Frauke Finsterwalder Germany
Documentary Film DE, AT, CH Neuland Anna Thommen Switzerland
Audience Award Journey to Jah Noël Dernesch, Moritz Springer Germany
Children’s Film Audience Award Believe David Scheinmann United Kingdom
Critics' Choice Award Finsterworld Frauke Finsterwalder Germany
Treatment Competition Award Project STÜRM – BIS ICH TOT BIN ODER FREI Dave Tucker United Kingdom
2012 International Feature Film Broken (2012 film) Rufus Norris United Kingdom
International Documentary Film The Imposter Bart Layton USA
German Language Feature Film Am Himmel der Tag Pola Beck Germany
German Language Documentary Film Der Prozess Gerald Igor Hauzenberger Austria
Audience Award Appassionata Christian Labhart Switzerland
Critics' Choice Award El último Elvis Armando Bo Argentina
2011 International Feature Film Take Shelter Jeff Nichols USA
International Documentary Buck Cindy Meehl USA
German Language Feature Film Atmen Karl Markovics Austria
German Language Documentary Film Darwin Nick Brandestini Switzerland
Audience Award Unter Wasser Atmen Andri Hinnen, Stefan Muggli Switzerland
Critics’ Choice Award Happy, Happy Anne Sewitsky Norway
2010 International Feature Film The Woman with a Broken Nose Srdjan Koljevic Serbia
International Documentary Armadillo Janus Metz Denmark
German Language Feature Film Das Lied in mir Florian Cossen Germany
Audience Award Stationspiraten Mike Schaerer Switzerland
Variety’s New Talent Award Adem Hans van Nuffel Belgium
Critics’ Choice Award Pal Adrienn Agnes Kocsis Hungary
2009 International Feature Film Wolfy Vasilij Sigarev Russia
International Documentary The Sound After the Storm Patrik Soergel, Ryan Fenson-Hood, Sven O. Hill USA
German Language Feature Film 66/67 – Fairplay war gestern Carsten Ludwig, Jan-Christoph Glaser Germany
Audience Award Waffenstillstand Lancelot von Naso Germany
Variety’s New Talent Award Amreeka Cherien Dabis USA, Kuwait, Canada
Critics’ Choice Award Applause Pieter Zandvliet Denmark
2008 Debut For a Moment, Freedom Arash T. Riahi Germany, Turkey
Fiction Tulpan Sergey Dvortsevoy Germany, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Switzerland
Documentary Blind Loves Juraj Lehotsky Slovakia
Audience Award The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner Stephan Komanderev Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary
2007 Debut Chapter 27 Jarrett Schaefer USA
Fiction Bikur Hatizmoret Eran Kolirin Israel, France
Documentary Running With Arnold Dan Cox USA
Audience Award Twelve In A Box John McKenzie Great Britain
2006 Debut Omaret Yacoubian Marwan Hamed Egypt
Fiction Shortbus John Cameron Mitchell USA
Documentary Hammer & Tickle - The Communist Joke Book Ben Lewis USA
Audience Award The Hip Hop Project Matt Ruskin, Scott K. Rosenberg USA
2005 Debut The Italian Andrei Kravchuk Russia

Out Of Competition Film Sections[edit]

PRISONERS - Gala Premiere 2013
THE SESSIONS - Gala Premiere 2012

Gala Premieres[edit]

Each evening, the ‘Gala Premier’ section celebrates highly anticipated film premieres by established filmmakers in the presence of cast and crew. Both feature films and large-scale documentaries are presented in this section. The films are screened as world, European, German-language or Swiss premieres.

Selection 2013: RUSH by Ron Howard, ALL IS LOST by J.C. Chandor, AM HANG by Markus Imboden, DEVIL'S KNOT by Atom Egoyan, EXIT MARRAKECH by Caroline Link, GRAVITY by Alfonso Cuarón, LA VIE D'ADELE by Abdellatif Kechiche, LIBERACE by Steven Soderbergh, PRISONERS by Denis Villeneuve, THE RAILWAY MAN by Jonathan Teplitzky, etc.

New World View[edit]

The ‘New World View’ section presents a body of emerging, contemporary films from a particularly interesting film region. Only first, second or third directing works by filmmakers from each guest country are presented in this section. A short-film block, implemented in association with the International Short Film Festival Winterthur, also forms part of this section.

Year Country
2014 India
2013 Brazil
2012 Sweden
2011 Turkey
2010 Australia
2009 Argentina
2008 Israel
2007 Russia

Border Lines[edit]

The Zurich Film Festival’s ‘Border Lines’ section, in collaboration with the emergency aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), presents feature-length and short films dealing with border situations occurring in current world events and humanitarian projects, territorial and social conflicts and conflicts between individuals and the state.

Honorary Guests and Retrospectives[edit]

Michael Haneke - A Tribute to... Award 2013
Richard Gere - Golden Icon Award 2012
Jerry Weintraub - Career Achievement Award 2012

A Tribute to... Award[edit]

The ‘A Tribute To…’ Award honours a personality from the film world who has been instrumental in influencing film history. The laureate collects the award personally in Zurich and usually imparts their knowledge and experience at a ZFF Masters.

Year Name Award
2013 Michael Haneke A Tribute to … Award
2012 Tom Tykwer A Tribute to … Award
2011 Paul Haggis A Tribute to … Award
2010 Miloš Forman A Tribute to … Award
2009 Roman Polanski A Tribute to … Award
2008 Costa-Gavras A Tribute to … Award
2007 Oliver Stone A Tribute to … Award
2006 Stephen Frears A Tribute to … Award
2005 Rainer Werner Fassbinder Retrospective

Golden Icon Award[edit]

The Golden Icon Award was presented for the first time in 2008. It is an award bestowed upon an actor or actress in recognition of their life’s work. This award goes to a person who has become an icon for a whole generation and whose performance and work in film is unforgettable. Previous award winners are:

Year Name Award
2013 Hugh Jackman Golden Icon Award
2012 Richard Gere Golden Icon Award
2011 Sean Penn Golden Icon Award
2010 Michael Douglas Golden Icon Award
2009 Morgan Freeman Golden Icon Award
2008 Sylvester Stallone Golden Icon Award

Career Achievement Award[edit]

The Career Achievement Award is bestowed upon a person who has achieved excellence in the field of producing, directing or interdisciplinarity. The laureate receives a Golden Eye and is honoured with a retrospective.

Year Name Award
2013 Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Harrison Ford Golden Eye for lifetime achievement
2012 Jerry Weintraub, John Travolta, Helen Hunt Golden Eye for lifetime achievement
2011 Alejandro González Iñárritu Golden Eye for lifetime achievement
2010 - -
2009 Michael Keaton Golden Eye for lifetime achievement

Industry Events[edit]

Film Finance Forum Zurich
Harvey Weinstein - ZFF Masters 2013

Film Finance Forum Zurich[edit]

This conference is held annually within the framework of the Zurich Film Festival at The Dolder Grand hotel. The 5th edition of Film Finance Forum Zurich will take place on September 27, 2014. Unique to the German-speaking world, this forum offers an exclusive platform where top-class representatives from the entertainment and film industries meet investors and representatives from the world of finance. Topics include production and investment strategies, film financing and risk minimising, distribution and European co-productions.

Speakers in 2013 have included: Georges A. Kern (CEO, IWC Schaffhausen), Brian Oliver (Producer, Cross Creek Pictures), Claudia Blümhuber (CEO, Silver Reel Partners AG), Roeg Sutherland (CAA), Pierre-Ange Le Pogam (Stone Angels), Christopher Woodrow (CEO, Worldview Entertainment), Greg Shapiro (Producer, Kingsgate Films), Helge Sasse (CEO, Senator Entertainment AG), etc.

ZFF Masters[edit]

The ZFF Masters are chaired discussions with celebrated personalities from the international film industry. They offer the public insight into the creative process and attitude to film of directors, screenwriters, producers and actors. These renowned experts are available for public question-and-answer sessions.

Former speakers include: Harvey Weinstein, Harrison Ford, Marc Forster, Tim Bevan, Michael Haneke, Markus Imhoof, Jerry Weintraub, Tom Tykwer, Frank Darabont, Asghar Farhadi, Paul Haggis, Miloš Forman, Charles H. Ferguson, Sylvester Stallone - among many others.

ZFF Master Class[edit]

The ZFF Master Class facilitates networking between young, talented filmmakers and leading experts from the film industry and imparts creative filmmaking know-how. Participants are given the opportunity to interact with established industry role models who are themselves exceptional filmmakers. The ZFF Master Class serves as a source of motivation and inspiration for young filmmakers.[1]

Former speakers include: Stacey Sher, Dario Suter & Joel Brandeis, Markus Imboden & Jasmine Hoch, Christopher Hampton, Guneet Monga, Greg Shapiro, Benh Zeitlin, Michael Shamberg, Pietro Scalia, Daniel Espinosa, John Battsek, Janine Jackowski, Christine Vachon, Jessica Hausner, Jennifer Fox, Jeremy Thomas, Terry Gilliam, Michael Keaton, Ken Loach, Hervé Schneid, Costa-Gavras, Oliver Stone, Moritz Bleibtreu, Stephen Frears, etc.

Side Events[edit]

International Film Music Competition[edit]

Film Music Competition 2013

The International Film Music Competition was first introduced in 2012 and its venue alternates between the Tonhalle Zürich and one of the festival cinemas. The competition is a collaboration between the Zurich Film Festival and the Forum Filmmusik. French‐born pianist and composer Laurant Courbier is the winner of the second International Film Music Competition, which took place during the 9th Zurich Film Festival on September 27, 2013 at Arena Cinemas. Courbier received the Golden Eye endowed with a 10'000 Swiss franc cash prize for the ‚Best International Film Music 2013’.

Treatment Competition[edit]

In 2013, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) and Telepool Zürich launched - together with Zurich Film Festival - a new Treatment Competition. Authors are invited to submit a feature-length cinema or TV film treatment. The work must include a strong content-based, character-based or production-based connection to Switzerland. The Treatment Competition award is endowed with a CHF 5000 cash prize. The winner also receives a screenplay development agreement worth up to CHF 25’000 for the creation of a feature-length cinema or TV film screenplay.

ZFF for kids[edit]

On the 9th Zurich Film Festival the, ZFF for kids Audience Award' has been introduced and the screenings in this section have been expanded to total 14. The children's films are shown in the original language and simultaneously translated to German.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  • Zürich Film Festival at Internet Movie Database IMDb [1]
  • Zürich Film Festival at The Hollywood Reporter [2]
  • Zürich Film Festival at Variety [3]
  • Festival reviews at outnow.ch: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 (in German only), 2012 (in German only)