THE SWIMMERS by Sally El Hosaini opens the 18th Zurich Film Festival
The European Premiere of Sally El Hosaini’s drama THE SWIMMERS based on the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters’ opens the 18th Zurich Film Festival on September 22, 2022. The film will be presented at Zurich’s Convention Center in the presence of guests and dignitaries including Ignazio Cassis, the president of the Swiss federal council, and Corine Mauch, the mayor of Zurich.
The Working Title film for Netflix is directed and written by Sally El Hosaini and co-written by multi-award-winner Jack Thorne. Based on a true story, following the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Two young sisters embark on a harrowing journey as refugees, putting both their hearts and champion swimming skills to heroic use.
“THE SWIMMERS is a deeply moving and timely film about a miraculous journey”, says Christian Jungen, Artistic Director. “It shines a light on the refugee crisis, but is also up-lifting and inspiring. We couldn’t imagine a better opening night film. Sally El Hosaini who already with her first feature MY BROTHER THE DEVIL won an award at Sundance is among the most talented new voices in auteur cinema. Being a festival committed to new talents it is a great pleasure to present her new work in the presence of German star Matthias Schweighöfer.”
Sally El Hosaini says “I’m thrilled that the extraordinary true life story of the Mardini sisters will open the 18th Zurich Film Festival as our European premiere. Never has there been such an important time for Europeans to see a film that elevates the visibility of refugees and honours those who risk their lives to have a better, safer life.”
Cast and Crew attending European Premiere in Zurich
Sally El Hosaini will be joined by cast Nathalie Issa and Matthias Schweighöfer, along with Sara and Yusra Mardini and swimming coach Sven Spannenkrebs at the film’s European premiere at ZFF.
THE SWIMMERS follows the journey made by sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini. In 2015, after their house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War, the sisters fled the country as refugees. They made their way to Lebanon and then Turkey, where they arranged to be smuggled into Greece by dinghy. In the middle of the Aegean Sea, the motor of the dinghy, overcrowded with refugees, cut out, the sisters and others who could swim, ensured the safety of the passengers. They went on to settle in Germany, with Yusra taking up training again with coach Sven Spannenkrebs and going on to compete at the 2016 Olympics as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.
Starring Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ahmed Malek, James Krishna Floyd, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Kinda Alloush and Ali Suliman. Directed and written by Sally El Hosaini and co-written by multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. Produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing. The film will be out on Netflix later this year.
The European premiere will take place on Thursday, September 22, at the 1200 seat Convention Center, with an additional public screening at the Corso cinema. The complete programme of the 18th Zurich Film Festival will be published on the website on Thursday, September 8, from 12 noon local time. Ticket sales will start on Monday, September 12, from 12 noon local time.
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
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
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
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
Luca Guadagnino is honoured with the A Tribute to… Award at the Zurich Film Festival
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 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.
ZFF celebrates the Zurich Film Night
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 Gmbh, Abrakadabra Films AG, Atelier – Eis am See, Glaus&Gut Casting GmbH, Jingle Jungle AG, Maximage GmbH, Rudolf Jost, Shining Film AG, Studio uuuh! KLG, Swiss Film School SFS, Zürcher Filmstiftung
You can find the entire programme of the 18th Zurich Film Festival (Sept 22-Oct 2, 2022) on website.