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Zurich Festival To Present a Special Roman Polanski Retrospective

It was announced today that the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) will present Oscar® winner Roman Polanski with the Festival’s prestigious Golden Eye Award for his life’s work as a film director. The announcement was made today by ZFF Directors Karl Spoerri and Nadja Schildknecht.

Roman Polanski is regarded as one of the most unconventional filmmakers of our time and will receive the Golden Eye Award on Sunday, September 27th, as part of ZFF’s ongoing “A Tribute To...” series during the 5th Zurich Film Festival (September 24 – October 4, 2009).

The works of the 75-year-old filmmaker, celebrated for his experimentation with the widest variety of film genres and his distinctively surreal works, have highly influenced and inspired emerging directors and filmmakers. The Polish-bred director, actor and screenplay writer will be on hand in Zurich to accept the “A Tribute To...” award personally.

The Zurich Film Festival will also present a special Roman Polanski retrospective to celebrate his receipt of the award on September 27th and will screen numerous films from his illustrious career, such as his cinema debut Knife in the Water and classics like the thriller Chinatown and the Holocaust drama The Pianist, for which he received the Oscar® for Best Director. The films will be shown in Zurich’s Corso Cinema.

Before the “A Tribute to...” awarding ceremony on the 27th, Polanski will discuss his work as a director at a workshop presented within ZFF’s signature Master Class series, now in its 4th instalment. This exclusive talent workshop, still accepting applications from young filmmakers until August 21, will give 25 selected participants the opportunity to exchange ideas with the iconic director.

The Zurich Film Festival’s previous “A Tribute To...” guests of honour have been: Oscar®-winner Costa-Gavras (Z, Missing, Betrayed) in 2008, the three-times Oscar®-winner Oliver Stone (Midnight Express, Platoon, Born on the 4th of July) in 2007; and the multi-Oscar® nominated director Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Grifters, The Queen) in 2006.

Additional guests and honorees at the 5th Zurich Film Festival will be announced in the coming weeks.

The retrospective of selected films by Roman Polanski at this year’s Festival will include the following:

Knife in the Water, PL 1962

Sports journalist Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) and his wife Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) spontaneously invite a young hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) to join them for a weekend on their yacht. The initial friendship between the two apparently very different men soon recedes and tensions begin to build. In this, his first feature, Polanski brilliantly uses the claustrophobic atmosphere of the yacht to hold his audience in a constant state of alert. This minimally set psycho-thriller brought him an Oscar® Nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The Fearless Vampire Killers, UK/USA 1967

Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) would like to confirm his audacious thesis on the existence of vampires and sets off for Transylvania with his trusty assistant Alfred (Roman Polanski) in order to do so. Shortly after arriving, the two vampire hunters hit upon a hot lead… In his first colour film, Polanski skilfully masters the balancing act between horror and comedy. This vampire satire of cult-film status delights with its bizarre yet affectionately drawn characters and perfectly staged setting of wintry Transylvania.

Rosemary’s Baby, USA 1968

Initially unperturbed by the mysterious history of her future home, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) moves with her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) into a rented apartment in Bramford House, New York. Intrusive neighbours, the death of a friend, reoccurring nightmares and an unexpected pregnancy soon lead Rosemary to believe that she is the victim of a conspiracy. This subtle horror film blurs the border between nightmare and reality and relies more upon psychological tension than bloody sequences.

Chinatown, USA 1974

Los Angeles in the 1930s: The ex-private detective Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by the wife of the local waterworks’ chief engineer Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling) to spy on her husband. That is, however, until Gittes discovers that the woman who hired him is a fraud and the real wife files a lawsuit against him. This criminal drama wows with its arresting narrative technique and the outstanding performance of Jack Nicholson in the leading role.

Frantic, USA/FRA 1988

In this absorbing thriller, lead by Harrison Ford, the cardiologist Dr. Richard Walker (Ford) and his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) accidentally become embroiled in a conspiracy: Their luggage is mistaken for somebody else’s at a Paris airport. Sondra disappears without trace from their hotel room a short time later. During the desperate search for his wife Walker meets Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner), a young French woman who seems to hold the key to his spouse’s whereabouts. It soon becomes apparent that the swapped suitcase contains something extremely valuable. Polanski filmed Frantic in the tradition of Hitchcock, the old master of suspense.

Death and the Maiden (Der Tod und das Mädchen), UK/USA/FRA 1994

The distinguished lawyer Gerardo Escobar (Stuart Wilson) and his wife, the former resistance fighter Paulina (Sigourney Weaver), withdraw to a small cottage on the coast of South America following the downfall of the dictatorship. When Gerardo’s car breaks down and the helpful Dr. Miranda (Ben Kingsley) drives him home, Paulina believes she recognizes the doctor who tortured and raped her while she was imprisoned 15 years previously. Polanski’s screen adaptation of Ariel Dorfman’s stage piece is compressed into one place and one night thus creating a claustrophobic atmosphere and immense confrontational intensity. A compelling and oppressively foreboding psycho-drama about torture, guilt and atonement.

The Pianist, FRA/D/UK/PL 2002

A life of suffering and terror lies in store for the celebrated pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) following the occupation of Warsaw by the Germans in 1939. Henceforth the artist lives as a prisoner in the Warsaw Ghetto. He narrowly avoids deportation and with it certain death. He battles for survival in the ruins of the city and lives under the constant threat of being found by the Nazis. As the German officer (Thomas Kretschmann) discovers the haggard musician, Wladyslaw believes it is over for him. But he has luck in an unlucky situation… Crowned with three Oscars®, this Holocaust drama is based on the autobiography of the Polish Jewish concert pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Further information about the “A Tribute To” series and about the 5th Zurich Film Festival can be found under: Further information about application for the Zurich Master Class can be found under

About the Zurich Film Festival
The 5th Zurich Film Festival will take place at the cinemas Corso and Arthouse Le Paris from September 24 until October 4, 2009. A public festival for those who have already seen it all. The Zurich Film Festival will screen more than 50 Swiss and international film premieres in the International Feature Film Competition, the International Documentary Film Competition, the German-Speaking Competition and the Out of Competition series.

The Zurich Film Festival is generously supported by its main sponsors: Crédit Suisse,, L’Oréal Paris, Kuoni and Audi. The “A Tribute to...” series is generously supported by L’Oréal Paris.

The Zurich Film Festival is organized by Spoundation Motion Picture GmbH, based in Zurich, in cooperation with local institutions and sponsors. The Zurich Film Festival cooperates with numerous distributors and producers from Switzerland and abroad. The idea to found a festival in Zurich came from Karl Spoerri. Today, the festival directors are Karl Spoerri (creative director) and Nadja Schildknecht (public relations, marketing and sponsoring).


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