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Zurich Film Festival ends with awards

5th Zurich Film Festival: September 24 – October 4, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009

The three prize winners of the Zurich Film Festival’s “International Feature Film”, “German-Language Feature Film” and “International Documentary Film” competition categories have been announced: The Russian contribution Wolfy by Vasilij Sigarev won the International Feature Film Competition, the best German-Language Feature Film award went to 66/67 – Fairplay is over by Carsten Ludwig and Jan-Christoph Glaser and, celebrating its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival, the German/Swiss co-production The Sound After the Storm by Patrik Soergel, Ryan Fenson-Hood and Sven O. Hill topped the International Documentary Film Competition. The documentary film Defamation, an Israeli production by Yoav Shamir, and the German-language films 13 Semesters by Frieder Wittich and Gravity by Maximilian Erlenwein received a special mention.

The winners of Variety’s New Talent Award and the Critics’ Choice Award were announced yesterday: Variety allocated its award to the sensitive emigration drama Amreeka. The Danish production Applause by Martin Pieter Zandvliet received The Swiss Association of Film Journalists’ Award.

The Closing Night also saw actor Morgan Freeman receive the “Golden Icon Award” and Michael Keaton being awarded the first ever “Career Achievement Award”.

The award ceremony on October 3 marked the end of a festival overshadowed by the arrest of Roman Polanski, who was scheduled to receive the “A Tribute to ...” Award for his life’s work. The intense publicity temporarily pushed aside the actual focus of the film festival, which is filmmaking by young talents competing in three competitions, all of which found enthusiasm from a public open to encountering a multitude very different works.

The festival attracted 37,000 visitors this year, which is a slight increase over last year; in 2008 the festival had 36,000 attendees.

Golden Eye

Presided over by actress Debra Winger, the jury of the International Feature Film Competition awarded its Golden Eye to the Russian drama Wolfy by Vasilij Sigarev. In this competition category curated by Nikolaj Nikitin, the jury chose the film for “its haunting and single-minded vision, extraordinary lead performance and imaginative use of cinematic language”. The International Documentary Film Competition was curated by Christine von Fragstein and its jury headed by Erwin Wagenhofer, who awarded the Golden Eye to The Sound After the Storm by directors Patrik Soergel, Ryan Fenson-Hood and Sven O. Hill, for its courageous revisiting of the victims of Hurricane Katrina long after the media had forgotten them and for the power of its visual and sound imagery in evoking a culture to a large degree destroyed when the hurricane hit. The Israeli production Defamation, directed by Yoav Shamir, which tackles the issue of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism, received a special mention for its intelligent approach and delicate handling of a difficult and highly controversial theme.
Co-director and artistic director of the Zurich Film Festival, Karl Spoerri, curated the German-Language Feature Film Competition. This Brunner stepped in as jury president, replacing the ailing Til Schweiger to award its Golden Eye to 66/67 – Fairplay is Over. "In the German Language Competition, the Golden Eye goes to a powerful film that shows in a very intense and often funny way, without any compromises in storytelling and authentic performances, how a group of soccer fans are trapped in a social system of revenge, violence and so-called friendship. Using soccer only as a setting and background, the film demonstrates how these hooligans are both perpetrators and victims, caught in their own incapacity for inner peace.”

Golden Icon Award for Morgan Freeman, Career Achievement Award for Michael Keaton
Renowned for his convincing character performances, actor Morgan Freeman received the “Golden Icon Award”. Spanning more than half a century, his career as an actor has influenced generations of filmmakers – including many of those presenting their films at this year’s Zurich Film Festival. The Closing Night also saw Michael Keaton receive the “Career Achievement Award”, presented for the first time this year.

Audience Award
Chosen from all the films participating in the competition categories, the audience voted Ceasefire by Lancelot von Naso as their favorite film.

New World View Argentina
In the New World View Series, Argentina presented movies from a country that has been producing exciting and innovative films for the past ten years. Poetic and lyrical moments shine through the thick, unvarnished banality of everyday life in these works by young directors, many of them female. The films all met with interested and enthusiastic audiences.

onedotzero was hosted for three days at the Seefeld Razzia. Fourteen highly creative clips fought for the attention of the public as they were presented as part of the Swiss edition of onedotzero_ch. The race was won, literally, by Gian Klainguti’s animated horserace Dixie Trixie. The latest program highlights from the original onedotzero_adventures in motion held in London filled the remaining two days.

Zurich Master Class
The 20 young filmmakers chosen to participate in the 4th Zurich Master Class profited from workshop talks with experienced film workers. This year’s speakers were: movie soundtrack composer Niki Reiser; president of the Documentary Film Competition jury Erwin Wagenhofer; director Terry Gilliam, whose work The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus celebrated its premiere at this year’s Zurich Film Festival; Peter Fonda, whose cult film Easy Rider celebrated its 40th anniversary in Zurich; Michael Keaton, who came to Zurich for the European premiere of his directorial debut The Merry Gentleman; jury member and Oscar® winning documentary filmmaker Randal Kleiser, and this year’s Golden Icon Award winner Morgan Freeman. The first Industry Day enhanced this year’s Master Class and was open to the general public.
Christine von Fragstein, curator of the Zurich Master Class, is pleased with the commitment and political initiative of this year’s participants, who showed their solidarity with 250 incarcerated Iranian filmmakers by wearing green scarves on the red carpet.

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