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From Mozart to Sinéad O’Connor to Machine Gun Kelly: ZFF celebrates music films


In its new “Sounds” section, the 18th Zurich Film Festival (Sept 22 – Oct 2) screens music films and organises events with musicians. For example, before his concert at the Hallenstadion, US rapper Machine Gun Kelly is expected to present the drama TAURUS, in which he himself embodies a music star, and executive producer Roland Emmerich’s team will present the world premiere of the modern Mozart film adaptation THE MAGIC FLUTE.

Students at film school learn early on that good sound is what makes a good film – and this is particularly true when it comes to film: 50 percent of the cinema experience is conveyed via the soundtrack, a fact that has been scientifically proven. This is not the only reason that the ZFF is creating a new programme section called “Sounds”, a sidebar that turns the spotlight on films and documentaries that are about musicians, have a musical theme or feature an outstanding soundtrack. “The ZFF has been involved for years now in the promotion of film music through, for example, the International Film Music Competition, SoundTrack_Zurich – a congress that allows composers to network and exchange ideas, and with the Award Night, where renowned musicians have been performing for years”, explains Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the Zurich Film Festival. “As a reaction to a strong trend in the film industry, we are now expanding our engagement in the field of music with the “Sounds” section. The boom in films and documentaries about bands and musicians can be said to have begun with BOEHEMIAN RHAPSODY, the hugely successful production about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. We show a selection in this new section of the most artistically valuable.”

Noteworthy highlights are the two world premieres of the German films THE MAGIC FLUTE by director Florian Sigl and executive producer Roland Emmerich, and CAN AND ME by Michael P. Aust. With its fantasy elements, THE MAGIC FLUTE is a modern Mozart-meets-Harry-Potter type adaptation of the classic opera “The Magic Flute”. CAN AND ME is the documentary portrait of Irmin Schmidt, who shot to world stardom with the Cologne band CAN, and composed the music for many of Wim Wenders’ films.

Another highlight will be the screening of TAURUS, which stars American rapper, songwriter and singer Machine Gun Kelly alongside his fiancée Megan Fox. The superstar, with over 16 million followers on Instagram, is expected on the green carpet on Thursday, September 29. He will present the film to his fans in person before heading to his concert at the Hallenstadion.

The “Sounds” programme also features two special screenings in which films from other sections screen with a live commentary by their respective film music composer. The Danish psycho-horror SPEAK NO EVIL and Sönke Wortmann’s comedy DER NACHNAME, which celebrates its world premiere at the ZFF, have been chosen for this. SoundTrack_Zurich has established itself as a meeting place for the film music industry in just two years.This year, too, numerous events and discussion rounds are planned, for example a talk with Rachel Portman. In keeping with the spirit of film music, film composer and Oscar-winner Rachel Portman will be honored with the Career Achievement Award at the 18th ZFF. She will accept the award on September 29 at the “Cinema in Concert” gala event held at the Tonhalle. Portman also presides over the jury of the International Film Music Competition, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Swiss Premiere
Semi-autobiographical drama
USA, 2022
Director: Tim Sutton
Composition: Machine Gun Kelly
Cast: Colson Baker, Maddie Hasson, Scoot McNairy, Megan Fox, Demetrius ‘Lil Meech‘ Flenory Jr., Naomi Wild

Taurus at zffOn stage, Cole is a celebrated rapper, but in his private life, the exhausted musician throws himself into a frenzy of wild excess. He leaves his little daughter hanging just like he does everybody else around him. In this semi-autobiographical drama, pop star and leading man Colson Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly, shows himself to the public as intimate and vulnerable as never before. Alongside co-star Megan Fox, he allows us to peer into the abysses of celebrity culture.


Swiss Premiere
UK, 2022
Director: Kathryn Ferguson
Composition: Irene Buckley, Linda Buckley
Protagonist: Sinéad O’Connor

Nothing compares at zff

As brilliantly as Sinéad O’Connor conquered the world with her music in the 1980s, the Irish singer was always controversial. From the shaved head, for many the epitome of devoid femininity, to the activist provocations she “allowed” herself as a woman. Filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson brings out the woman behind the media image and illuminates her phenomenal rise.


World Premiere
Germany, 2022
Director: Florian Sigl
Composition: Wolfgang A. Mozart / Martin Stock (Score)
Cast: Iwan Rheon, Jack Wolfe, F. Murray Abraham

The magic flute at zffAs a gifted singer, 17-year-old Tim receives a scholarship to the legendary Mozart boarding school in Austria. There he discovers a centuries-old portal that whisks him away into the fantastical world of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. Here, as Prince Tamino, he must rescue Princess Pamina from the clutches of Sarastros night after night, while during the day, as Tim, he attempts to land the coveted lead role in the school’s annual performance – a magical movie experience!


Swiss Premiere
USA, Lebanon, 2022
Director: Rita Baghdadi
Composition: Para One
Protagonists: Shery Bechara, Lilas Mayassi

Sirens at zff

Sporting wild hair and leather boots the “Slave of Sirens” take to the stage. Lead singer Maya grabs the microphone and screams rebellious lyrics at the raging crowd. With its uncompromising sound, Beirut’s first female heavy metal band tries to smash every obstacle that stands in the way of young women in Lebanon. In this energetic documentary, we accompany the expressive female protagonists and discover the fascinating story of an up-and-coming band that reflects an entire generation.


World Premiere
Germany, 2022
Director: Michael P. Aust
Composition: Markus Aust
Protagonists: Irmin Schmidt, Hildegard Schmidt, Wim Wenders

Can and me at zffIn 1968, musician Irmin Schmidt and friends founded the avant-garde band “Can”, which achieved worldwide fame thanks to hits such as “Vitamin C” and “She Brings The Rain”. Due to their experimental sound and the non-existent hierarchies within the band, they were soon considered revolutionary and shaped generations of musicians. Presenting their music as an optical symphony, this documentary is an ode to the unconformity, spontaneity and vision of an extraordinary band.


Premiere in the German-language realm
France, Spain, 2022
Director: Juanjo Giménez
Composition: Domas Strupinskas
Cast: Marta Nieto, Miki Esparbé, Fran Lareu, Luisa Merelas, Cris Iglesias, Julius Cotter

Out of sync tres at zff
Sound designer C. lives for her job. It hits her all the harder, then, when she begins to perceive sounds with a time delay. Her employer suspects a phase of psychological instability, but in addition to the pressures of work and her private problems, her condition seems to bring her closer to a realisation – one that also promises to be her liberation. Director Juanjo Giménez Peña creates a fascinating acoustic film experience with finely tuned sound.

Live comment by Composer Helmut Zerlett

World Premiere
Germany, 2022
Director: Sönke Wortmann
Composition: Helmut Zerlett
Cast: Christoph Maria Herbst, Caroline Peters, Justus von Dohnányi, Florian David Fitz, Janina Uhse, Iris Berben

Der nachname at zff

It should have been a harmonious reunion on Lanzarote, but no sooner do the couple Stephan and Elisabeth and the new parents Thomas and Anna arrive at the family home than new quarrels break out in the family. Elisabeth and Thomas can hardly believe it when their mother, Dorothea, announces that she and adopted son, René, are now married. Four years after DER VORNAME, director Sönke Wortmann returns to Zurich with the long-awaited sequel. DER NACHNAME is a delightfully wicked social comedy.

Live comment by composer Sune Kølster

Denmark, 2022
Director: Christian Tafdrup
Composition: Sune Kølster
Cast: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt

Speak no evil at zff

During a vacation in Tuscany, Danish couple Bjørn and Louise become friends with a Dutch family. A few months later, the two receive an unexpected invitation to spend the weekend together with daughter Agnes at their newfound friends’ place in Holland. The joy of the reunion, however, is short-lived. Bjørn and Louise soon realise that they should never have accepted the invitation. An uncompromising and bitterly fiendish arthouse horror that captivates from the very first scene.

New programme section “Sounds”

Newly created for the 18th Zurich Film Festival (Sept 22-Oct 2), the “Sounds” section celebrates the alternating relationship between music and film. The section screens feature films and documentaries that are about musicians, have a musical theme or feature an outstanding soundtrack. The aim is to make audiences more aware of the importance of music to the seventh art. The programme is complemented by two films that screen with a live commentary by their respective film composer.

Screening times from September 8 and tickets available from September 12

10 Years of Cinema in Concert

The “Cinema in Concert” gala event with the International Film Music Competition will be implemented for the tenth time by the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich AG in collaboration with Forum Filmmusik at the Tonhalle Zurich on September 29, 2022.  

Tickets available now Further information 


SoundTrack_Zurich is a European film music congress that takes place during the Zurich Film Festival. SoundTrack_Zurich presents the work of Swiss and European film composers at eye level with their international colleagues. The two-day congress offers 30 panels, networking sessions, case studies, workshops and special screenings. SoundTrack_Zurich is organised by Forum Filmmusik in close collaboration with the Zurich Film Festival, SoundTrack_Cologne, Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich, IMMSANE, ZHdK, Sonart, SUISA, SwissPerform, Swiss Music Export, SWAN and WiFT.

The next edition takes place from September 27-30, 2022.


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The Golden Eyes of the 18th ZFF go to films from Switzerland, from Colombia and from the USA

The Golden Eyes of the 18th ZFF go to films from Switzerland from Colombia and from the USA

This evening, the prizes of the 18th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) were presented during the Award Night at Zurich Opera House. The festival’s main awards were given in three competition categories: A Golden Eye goes to each of the films CASCADEUSES by Elena Avdija, LOS REYES DEL MUNDO by Laura Mora Ortega and SAM NOW by Reed Harkness.  

The Award Night of the 18th Zurich Film Festival took place on Saturday, October 1 at Zurich Opera House. Comprising three separate categories, the International Competition forms the core of the Festival. The ZFF competition showcases films by young, promising filmmakers who compete with their first, second or third directorial works for the festival’s most prestigious award, the Golden Eye, which is endowed with a CHF 25’000 cash prize. Every film selected for the three competition categories is either a world, European or Swiss premiere. In addition to the three main categories, numerous other prizes were also presented, including the ZFF for Kids’ Jury Prize and the Audience Award.

Christian Jungen, artistic director of the ZFF explained in his speech: “The strong increase in the number of admissions for films in competition is gratifying. This shows that the audience is curious and has a desire to discover new filmmakers and that auteur cinema is alive.”

The following is a list of the winning films of the 18th Zurich Film Festival.

Focus competition cascadeuses

Focus Competition: CASCADEUSES

This category focusses on films from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The winner of the Golden Eye in the category this year is CASCADEUSES by Elena Avdija.

They are hit by cars, have to dive 70 meters into the depths and absorb many a hard blow. For professional stuntwomen Virginie, Petra and Estelle, this is all in a day’s work. In order to perform physically demanding scenes for film and television, they undergo rigorous daily training. But in the male-dominated film industry, stereotypical portrayals of vulnerable women on screen are still common, and even stuntwomen often find themselves in the roles of female victims, while male colleagues embody perpetrators or heroes. In her debut feature, filmmaker Elena Avdija sheds light on an exciting and hard-hitting business in which female actors all too often remain in the shadows.

Jury statement: The Focus Competition jury is delighted to award the Golden Eye to CASCADEUSES for it’s beautiful direction and strong cinematography, for its wonderful sense of cinematic rhythm and its respect for its characters. The film gives us an unsentimental view into a world that we never get to see. We cannot wait to see what Elena Avdija will do next!

Special Mention: FOUDRE by Carmen Jaquier 

Christine Vachon (jury president) / director, producer / USA
Fred Baillif / director, screenwriter / Switzerland
Katharina Mückstein / director, screenwriter / Austria
Maria Fantastica Valmori / cutter / Italy
Roger Schawinski / journalist, presenter / Switzerland

Feature film competition los reyes del mundo

Feature Film Competition: LOS REYES DEL MUNDO

The 18th Zurich Film Festival’s Golden Eye for Best Feature Film goes to LOS REYES DEL MUNDO by Laura Mora Ortega.

Young Rá lives on the streets of Medellin with his friends Culebro, Sere, Winny and Nano. But hope is in sight for the gang: The government has granted Rá the right to a piece of land from which his family, like thousands of other Colombians, was once driven off by the paramilitaries. And so, the bunch sets off on the dangerous trip into the Colombian hinterland. It is the beginning of an exciting journey that oscillates between adventure and delirium. Set against the backdrop of Columbia’s spectacular nature, director Laura Mora tells in breath-taking, immersive images and mystical dream sequences of the search by five stray good-for-nothings for happiness and justice.

Jury statement: The movie was one of the first films we saw and it left us with unforgettable images and scenes. LOS REYES DEL MUNDO is meticulously crafted and brings us close to the young protagonists who fight for freedom and dignity. The lyrical film language infuses the harsh reality with a metaphysical dimension. It’s an important and powerful story about the marginalized in society.

Special Mention: WAR PONY by Gina Gammell and Riley Keough, and UNTIL TOMORROW / TA FARDA by Ali Asgari

Asghar Farhadi (jury president) / director / Iran
Clio Barnard / director / UK
Daniel Dreifuss / producer / USA, Brazil
Petra Volpe / director, screenwriter / Switzerland
Piodor Gustafsson / producer/ Sweden

Documentary film competition sam now

Documentary Film Competition: SAM NOW

The Golden Eye in the Documentary Film Competition category goes to SAM NOW by Reed Harkness. 

Half-brothers Sam and Reed have always made movies together. Even back when Sam was 14 and his mother left the family one day without any explanation. While father, grandmother and aunts keep silent for years about what happened, and brother Jared loses his drive for life, Sam seems to suffer no pain. Until Reed suggests he go find his mother. What follows is a road trip through Washington, Oregon and California – the beginning of an emotional roller coaster. Using his own Super 8 footage and home movies from his rich family archive, filmmaker Reed Harkness tells with subtle humour of the wounds of separation and the power of reconciliation.

Jury statement: This film stood out to all of us as the finest that cinema can do. Which is sending the viewer on a journey of introspection and questioning of human life and human relationships. In our crazy and collapsing world, being able to understand, accept and reach for the others is certainly crucial to remember. Thanks to this wonderful filmmakers and their family, for their courage to share their journey of pain and healing with us.

Special Mention: THE NEW GREATNESS CASE by Anna Shishova and THE KILLING OF A JOURNALIST by Matt Sarnecki

Alexander Nanau (jury president) / director, screenwriter, cameraman / Germany, Rumania
Atanas Georgiev / producer, director, cutter / North Macedonia
Joëlle Bertossa / producer, director / Switzerland
Nina Numankadić / producer / Czech Republic
Sushmit Ghosh / director / India


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Luca Guadagnino is honoured with the A Tribute to… Award at the Zurich Film Festival

Luca Guadagnino received the A Tribute to... Award.
Luca Guadagnino received the A Tribute to... Award. © Thomas Niedermüller / Getty for ZFF

Italian director and screenwriter Luca Guadagnino was honoured this evening with the A Tribute to… Award, the Zurich Film Festival’s highest prize for an auteur filmmaker. The award was presented to Guadagnino at the gala premiere of his new film BONES AND ALL at the Corso cinema.

The Zurich Film Festival’s highest award for auteur filmmakers, the Tribute to… Award, was presented to Luca Guadagnino this evening on the occasion of his new feature film BONES AND ALL at the Corso cinema. The Italian was very pleased to be able to attend the ZFF for the second time and emphasised: “Thank you so much, thank you Zurich Film Festival, thank you Christian Jungen. I am very touched by your words, very grateful.” Luca Guadagnino explained about his work: “I like to look at things and I like to look at people, very very much. And this job I do, that gathers people, is like a safe space for me, because there I can look at people and I can do something that normally you cannot do, but I am allowed to. And I am very grateful.”

Luca Guadagnino has found his very own place in contemporary Italian cinema with his films: They delight audiences and critics alike, and the director, born in Palermo in 1971, has found a film language that makes him unmistakable. At the latest since his global success CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017), which premiered at the Zurich Film Festival, Guadagnino has also become one of the most sought-after directors internationally. 

Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the ZFF, said: “What I admire about Luca Guadagnino is that he always steps out of his comfort zone and challenges himself – each film is unique and surprises us anew.” He then continued about Guadagnino’s work: “His cinema is perfectly in form because he finds the right visual language, the right rhythm and the right actors for his stories. It is almost impossible to love cinema but disregard Guadagnino.”

BONES AND ALL is a story of first love between Maren (Taylor Russell), a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee (Timothée Chalamet), an intense and disenfranchised drifter, as they meet and join together for a thousand-mile odyssey which takes them through the back roads, hidden passages and trap doors of Ronald Reagan’s America. But despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and to a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their otherness.

Luca guadagninos latest film bones and all

Luca Guadagninos latest film BONES AND ALL © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Luca Guadagnino convinces with his diversity and surprises his audience again and again: In 2015, Guadagnino did a remake of the 1968 movie LA PISCINE with the title A BIGGER SPLASH; director Jacques Deray created a cult movie starring Romy Schneider and Alain Delon, Guadagnino succeeded this with a remake starring Tilda Swinton that has almost nothing in common with the original and weaves sociopolitical traits into the plot. In 2018, Guadagnino dived headlong into the horrifying spheres of an abominable dance company with his remake of the Dario Argento classic SUSPIRIA. Tilda Swinton was part of the cast for this one, too; the actress is like a common thread that runs through Guadagnino’s work: He created a 35-minute short film from his first encounter with Swinton, which happened to be an interview with her at the Hotel Majestic in Cannes in 2002. Guadagnino’s breakthrough came in 2005 with MELISSA P, the film adaptation of the novel “With Closed Eyes” by Melissa Panarello. His IO SONO L’AMORE – again with Tilda Swinton – received a Golden Globe nomination. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME received four Oscar nominations, with James Ivory winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Zurich Film Festival presents The A Tribute to… Award to auteur filmmakers for their contribution to film history. Former recipients include Paolo Sorrentino, Wim Wenders, Olivier Assayas, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke, Oliver Stone and Maïwenn.

The complete programme of the 18th Zurich Film Festival (22 September to 2 October) is available on  website. 

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ZFF celebrates the Zurich Film Night

ZFF celebrates the Zurich Film Night
Director Laura Kaehr and lead actress Giulia Tonelli from BECOMING GIULIA with Corine Mauch during the Zurich Film Night. © Zurich Film Festival

The Zurich Film Festival turns the spotlight on Switzerland’s film capital: The Zurich Film Stroll – a tour along the value chain of the filmmaking business – took place yesterday. Companies opened their doors to offer interested visitors unique insights into the world of filmmaking. At the end of the day, guests from film and politics gathered together for the Zurich Film Night, where director Laura Kaehr joined Felix von Muralt and Stéphane Kuthy in a panel to present the interplay between directing and camera work, using the example of their documentary BECOMING GIULIA.

Domestic filmmaking proves its value at the ZFF. The Zurich Film Night is a collaborative event between the ZFF and the Zürcher Filmstiftung that highlights the economic and social importance of filmmaking. Christian Jungen, ZFF Artistic Director, opened the Film Night at the Folium and in his speech drew attention to the highly prevalent film culture in the city of Zurich, “Even international guests visiting the Zurich Film Festival are amazed at the great cinema city that we are.” The festival wishes to impact not only internationally, but on a local level, too. “We want to be a platform of exchange where the population can also come into contact with the local film scene.” said Jungen.

Mayor of Zurich and president of the Zürcher Filmstiftung Corine Mauch was equally pleased and proud about Zurich’s film culture, “I’m delighted to hear that international guests have noticed that Zurich is a city of culture, and also that culture is very important to us.” The aim of the Zurich Film Night is to celebrate this, “This Film Night, we want to celebrate filmmaking, a filmmaking that plays an important role in our region,” continued the Mayor.

During an entertaining panel, director Laura Kaehr and cameraman Felix von Muralt discussed the close collaboration between director and cameraman, and gave exclusive insights into the challenges of producing a documentary film. The discussion was chaired by Monika Schärer. The guests of the Zurich Film Night then gathered at the Arena Cinema to view BECOMING GIULIA. The screening was followed by a Q&A session that enabled Kaehr and von Muralt to offer a deeper insight into the filming process.

The 3rd Zurich Film Stroll took place during the day. Interested visitors took the opportunity to stroll the entire city in order to gain a behind-the-scenes peek at Zurich’s filmmaking business. Various doers and makers of the Zurich film industry, from production through to distribution, presented their work, including the team of costume designers behind the Swiss production THE ROBBER HOTZENPLOTZ. This year also saw an exclusive guided tour through the city to the original filming locations of ZWINGLI, which was led by Stefan Haupt (director) and Monika Schmid (costume).

Many thanks to the companies that opened their doors yesterday and took part in the Zurich Film Day: 

Aaron Film GmbhAbrakadabra Films AGAtelier – Eis am SeeGlaus&Gut Casting GmbHJingle Jungle AGMaximage GmbH, Rudolf JostShining Film AG, Studio uuuh! KLGSwiss Film School SFSZürcher Filmstiftung 

You can find the entire programme of the 18th Zurich Film Festival (Sept 22-Oct 2, 2022) on website.

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