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Zurich Bows With International Lineup, German-Language Highlights
The Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) is gearing up for a spectacular showcase of cinema in its forthcoming edition, promising an eclectic mix of international films and star-studded appearances. With a growing reputation in the global film industry, this year’s ZFF is set to make a significant mark, with a record number of world and European premieres, high-profile guests, and a spotlight on German-language works.
A Star-Studded Lineup
Among the cinematic gems set to grace the ZFF screens are highly anticipated international films, including Bradley Cooper’s directorial venture, “Maestro,” the quirky creation of Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things,” and the tantalizing “Saltburn” by Emerald Fennell. These films, helmed by renowned directors and featuring exceptional talent, are expected to captivate audiences and critics alike.
Adding to the festival’s allure are the luminous names that will grace the event. The guest list reads like a who’s who of Hollywood and international cinema, with Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Ethan Hawke, Todd Haynes, and Wim Wenders all set to make appearances. Their presence not only elevates the festival’s prestige but also promises engaging conversations and interactions with the audience.
A Record Number of Premieres
One of the most striking features of this year’s ZFF is the sheer number of premieres. Out of a total of 148 films to be screened, an impressive 52 are world or European premieres. According to Christian Jungen, ZFF’s artistic director, this record-breaking count underscores the festival’s growing stature on the global film stage. Jungen affirms, “The Zurich Film Festival is the perfect festival to boost the prestige of films for the upcoming award season.” It’s a testament to the festival’s ability to attract cutting-edge cinema and fresh talent.
Spotlight on German-Language Cinema
While the ZFF proudly embraces international cinema, it remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting German-language works. “It’s important for us to have world premieres of big German productions,” notes Jungen. One such standout is Kilian Riedhof’s “Stella. A Life,” a World War II drama based on a true story. The film explores the agonizing dilemma of a young Jewish woman in Berlin, torn between her survival and the betrayal of her friends to the Gestapo. Jungen describes it as a “very moving film” that delves into the complex psyche of a victim turned perpetrator.
Another noteworthy German-language film is Hans Steinbichler’s “A Whole Life,” an adaptation of Robert Seethaler’s bestselling novel. This poignant tale, set against the backdrop of the Alps, captures the evolution of the region amidst the rise of tourism—a theme that resonates particularly well in Switzerland.
Opening Night Delight
The festival kicks off with a bang with the opening night film, “Dream Scenario,” directed by Kristoffer Borgli and featuring none other than Nicolas Cage. This black comedy takes a satirical look at the life of a professor who becomes an overnight social media sensation. Jungen describes it as a reflection not only on celebrity culture but also on cancel culture, a pertinent topic in today’s society. He anticipates that this might be one of Nicolas Cage’s career-best performances and is eager to see how it resonates with the audience.
Spotlight on South Korean Cinema
The ZFF’s New World View section places a spotlight on South Korean cinema, a region that has experienced a cinematic renaissance in recent years. Jungen emphasizes that South Korean films have not only achieved high production values but also delve into themes that explore the complex relationships between the rich and the poor. Often rooted in genre cinema, these films carry a social conscience and address universal issues while remaining locally grounded.
Beyond the silver screen, the ZFF recognizes industry leaders who have left an indelible mark on cinema. Fred Kogel, CEO of Munich-based entertainment group Leonine Studios, is celebrated for his visionary contributions to the industry. Under his leadership, Leonine Studios has risen to prominence, producing films with broad international appeal. The company’s “School of Magical Animals” family film franchise has achieved remarkable worldwide success.
Michel Merkt, a Swiss producer, receives the ZFF’s Career Achievement Award. Merkt has collaborated with acclaimed directors such as David Cronenberg, Paul Verhoeven, Maren Ade, Jacques Audiard, and Xavier Dolan. His work exemplifies how films from a small country like Switzerland can attain international acclaim, and his latest production, Ira Sachs’ “Passages,” will be showcased at the festival.
Zurich Summit: Industry Insights
The Zurich Summit, the ZFF’s premier industry event, will host discussions on pressing issues confronting the entertainment sector. Among the topics of interest is whether film festivals are moving away from their traditional role of promoting films for theatrical release. Jungen asserts that festivals should not only introduce films but also contribute to their success in theaters. The summit will delve into the evolving role of festivals and their relationship with the market.
Another timely topic on the agenda is how to rekindle positivity in an industry that has faced challenges, including strikes. Despite the difficulties in securing star participation due to a strike, Jungen highlights the industry’s eagerness to convene, exchange ideas, and engage in discussions.
As the Zurich Film Festival prepares to unfold its cinematic tapestry, it promises a celebration of global cinema, a spotlight on German-language creations, and a forum for industry leaders to address the evolving landscape of filmmaking. In the heart of Switzerland, this festival aims to keep the magic of cinema alive, both on and off the screen.