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Strong showing in Zurich: Five German productions in the competition and honours for German filmmaker


This year's Zurich Film Festival program includes 148 films with a record number of 52 world and European premieres. German cinema is also being represented in many different ways. The 19th edition of the Swiss festival will be held from September 28 to October 8, 2023. A total of 16 German productions and co-productions can be seen at the festival. Actress Diane Kruger, the composer Volker Bertelmann and Leonine’s CEO Fred Kogel will be honoured with awards.

The launching of this year’s film festival also marks the beginning for new cinemas in Zurich: the Frame with its six screens - previously the Kulturhaus Kosmos - opens its doors to the public with ZFF’s opening film on September 28, 2023. Five German productions are screening in the Focus Competition.

They include the feature film JUPITER (DREIFILM) by Benjamin Pfohl about a cult that promises salvation in a higher existence on Jupiter. The drama EMPTY NETS (Basis Berlin Filmproduktion, Living Pictures Production) by Behrooz Karamizade about love, hope and the dreams of young people in Iran had already won the Special Jury Prize in Karlovy Vary and is now selected for the competition in Zurich, as is the coming-of-age story DEAD GIRLS DANCING (kalekone film) by Anna Roller, about a road trip by four girlfriends.

The section will also be presenting two documentaries: HARRAGA (MSZ - Production & Consulting Márk Szilágyi) by Benjamin Rost, who accompanied Moroccan teenagers from Melilla over the course of five years, and HOLLYWOODGATE  (Rolling Narratives, Jouzour Film Production) by Ibrahim Nash'at, which documents the first year after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan and recently generated considerable attention at the Venice Film Festival.

The Gala Premiere section will be showing the German production STELLA. EIN LEBEN (Letterbox Filmproduktion, SevenPictures Film, Amalia Film, REAL FILM Berlin, DOR Film, Lago Film, Gretchenfilm Filmproduktion, DCM Pictures) by Kilian Riedhof about the life of the young German Jewish woman Stella Goldschlag, who denounced and betrayed other Jews during the Second World War in order to save herself and her family. Also in this section is A WHOLE LIFE (Tobis Film) by Hans Steinbichler. The drama follows the life of Andreas Egger over the course of eight decades in the 20th century, a life defined by hardship, conflict, and violence as well as happy and romantic times.

ANSELM (Road Movies), the documentary by Wim Wenders about the artist Anselm Kiefer, will be screened in the out-of-competition sidebar of Special Screenings.

Outstanding children's and family films from all over the world will be shown in the ZFF for Children section. Three productions are coming from Germany this year: CHECKER TOBI UND DIE REISE ZU DEN FLIEGENDEN FLÜSSEN (MEGAHERZ) by Johannes Honsell, THE FLYING CLASSROOM (UFA Fiction, Leonine Studios) by Carolina Hellsgård and DIE UNLANGWEILIGSTE SCHULE DER WELT (Storming Donkey Productions) by Ekrem Ergün. This section has a prize presented by the 30-member ZFF Kids Jury formed new each year as well as the Audience Award decided on by the whole children's audience, 

In addition, three German filmmakers will be recognised with special awards in Zurich this year. The  actress Diane Kruger, who hails from Lower Saxony and is known for such films as IN THE FADE, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS or MR. NOBODY, will be presented with a Golden Eye for her outstanding acting career and her always courageous choice of roles.

Volker Bertelmann is being honoured for his life's work with the Career Achievement Award. The German composer was most recently awarded an Oscar® for his score for the anti-war drama ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, further cementing his status as one of the most important contemporary composers.

Each year also sees the ZFF presenting the Game Changer Award to leading personalities from the film industry whose extraordinary efforts serve to advance the sector. This year’s recipient is Fred Kogel, CEO of LEONINE Studios, for establishing a company that has taken just a few years to become one of the most important European players in the film business.


All of the German productions and co-productions in Zurich at a glance:

Focus Competition
JUPITER by Benjamin Pfohl (DREIFILM)
HARRAGA by Benjamin Rost (MSZ - Production & Consulting Márk Szilágyi)
HOLLYWOODGATE by Ibrahim Nash'at (DE/USA, Rolling Narratives, Jouzour Film Production)
27 STOREYS by Bianca Gleissinger (AT/DE, DFFB, Egoli Tossell Pictures)
EMPTY NETS by Behrooz Karamizade (DE/IR, Basis Berlin Filmproduktion, Living Pictures Production)
DEAD GIRLS DANCING by Anna Roller (kalekone film)

Gala Premiere
A WHOLE LIFE by Hans Steinbichler (DE/AT, Tobis Film)
INGEBORG BACHMANN - JOURNEY IN THE DESERT by Margarethe von Trotta (CH/AT/DE/LU, Heimatfilm)
STELLA. A LIFE by Kilian Riedhof (Letterbox Filmproduktion, SevenPictures Film, Amalia Film, REAL FILM Berlin, DOR Film, Lago Film, Gretchenfilm Filmproduktion, DCM Pictures)
KIDNAPPED by Marco Bellocchio (IT/FR/DE, Match Factory Productions)

Special Screening
ANSELM by Wim Wenders (Road Movies)
LOST IN THE NIGHT by Amat Escalante (MX/NL/DE/DK, The Match Factory)

ZFF für Kinder
THE FLYING CLASSROOM by Carolina Hellsgård (UFA Fiction, Leonine Studios)
DIE UNLANGWEILIGSTE SCHULE DER WELT by Ekrem Ergün (Storming Donkey Productions)

Window: San Sebastian
LA PRÁCTICA (THE PRACTICE) by Martín Rejtman (AR/CL/PT/DE, Pandora Film)


Sylva Häutle (Head of Festival Relations & Producers Liaison)
Angela Sonntag (Head of Press & Public Relations)