Zurich Film Festival: Preview

Now in its 15th year, the Zurich Film Festival is one of Europe’s best kept movie secrets. Attracting A-List guests and first-rate films, this year sees retrospectives for Hollywood spectacle maestro Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) and Australian siren Cate Blanchett (who sees 12 of her older movies screened alongside her latest work, Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette).

With masterclasses taking place for the likes of Oliver Stone, Donald Sutherland, Julie Delpy and Javier Bardem, the film selection includes an impressive array of titles that have already been buzzing across the festival circuit. Amongst the films to look forward to is British director Roger Michell’s Blackbird, starring Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Mia Wasikowska in a generational family drama that is a remake of Bille August’s Danish movie Silent Heart.

Aside from being an on-stage guest, Julie Delpy will also bring her latest film, My Zoe, to the festival. After the more comedic leanings of her earlier works, 2 Days In Paris and 2 Days In New York, this is a more serious-themed drama. Co-starring with Daniel Brühl, Gemma Arterton and Richard Armitage, Delpy plays a mother who suffers a terrible, unthinkable tragedy.

In the Special Screenings strand, there’s a chance to see James Franco’s long-delayed Zeroville, in which he plays Vikar, a distinct-looking set designer in 1969 Hollywood, who carries a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on the back of his very bald head. Given Franco’s last foray into the film world was The Disaster Artist, this is bound to have cult appeal.


Away from English-language cinema, there is a strong focus on German, Austrian and Swiss cinema, with twelve new documentaries and features from the region, including Nora Fingscheidt’s System Crasher, which already picked up two prizes at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, about a wild 9 year-old who is tossed around the welfare state.

For those looking further east for their film, there’s a ‘window’ into Hong Kong cinema, featuring several films including Three Husbands from veteran director Fruit Chan and the excellent animated movie No. 7 Cherry Lane, a surreal dive into literature and memory which won Best Screenplay for director Yonfan at this month’s Venice Film Festival.

Finally, in the competition strand, the juicy titles include Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal – starring Riz Ahmed as a drummer who starts to lose his hearing – and British director Sarah Gavron’s Rocks, a London-set adolescent drama, which recently bowed in Toronto to much acclaim. All in all, much to look forward to.

The Zurich Film Festival runs from 26 September until 6 October. For more details, visit here.

James Mottram

Lead Image: Still from Julie Delpy’s My Zoe.