Fest Traveler: Zurich Film Festival 2012

While the Zurich Film Festival will again celebrate international film, with high-profile screeners like Oliver Stone’s “Savages” and Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon starrer “Arbitrage,” it is also sharpening its focus on German-language cinema with a new mini-market presenting productions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Dubbed the Filmboutique, the mart, which runs Sept. 27-29, will present between 20 and 30 feature and documentary films from the German-speaking countries along with a work-in-progress block that includes excerpts of productions still to be completed.

Zurich fest director Karl Spoerri says the Filmboutique was modeled after the Gothenburg Film Festival’s Nordic Film Market, which offers not just a look at Swedish film but also an overview of Scandinavian cinema as a whole.

While national promotional orgs Swiss Films, the Austrian Film Commission and German Films all offer their own presentations of domestic pics, “there’s nothing that has all three countries together,” says Spoerrie.

The fest has increasingly focused on German-language films in recent years with its feature and documentary film competitions, which Spoerri says have generated a lot of attention. “But in competition you can never have more than eight or 10 productions,” he said.

Industry visitors to the fest did not have a broad overview of the German-language market, he adds, and that is something the Filmboutique will fix.

“We thought it would be very interesting if you could come to the festival and get an overview in three days of all the relevant productions in the past 12 months from the German-speaking territories, including German-language films from Switzerland,” says Spoerri. “We’ll see how it’s received, develop it further and see where we can go with it.”

The Filmboutique will include all the titles in the fest’s German-language feature and documentary film competitions as well as productions unspooling in special and gala screenings.

Among this year’s productions are Andre Erkau’s “Das Leben ist nichts fuer Feiglinge,” produced by Hamburg-based Riva Filmproduktion and Berlin’s Senator Film Produktion, about a teenage girl trying to cope with the sudden loss of her mother, and Pola Schirin Beck’s “Am Himmel der Tag,” from Berlin’s Alin Filmproduktion and Osiris Media, which follows a jaded young woman who finds new meaning in her life after becoming pregnant.

Jan Ole Gerster’s “Oh Boy,” by fellow Berlin producers Schiwago Film and Chromosom Filmproduktion, about a down-on-his-luck young Berliner, will have its Swiss premiere at the fest.

Documentaries in competition include Austrian title “Outing,” Sebastian Meise and Thomas Reider’s study of pedophilia, and Daniel Young’s Swiss production “Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open,” which examines the life of the writer-composer and his wife Jane.

HIGHLIGHTS

School’s in session
• Taking part in the festival’s Master Class series this year will be Frank Darabont, who is also serving as president of the international feature film competition jury; Jerry Weintraub, who is also being honored with a career achievement award; helmer Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), editor Pietro Scalia (“The Amazing Spider-Man”), director Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House”), Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”), producers Michael Shamberg (“Django Unchained”) and Greg Shapiro (“Hurt Locker”); and talent agent David Flynn (UTA).
Filmboutique
• Zurich’s inaugural mini-market for German-language productions kicks off with an overview of the past year’s top films from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The mart will screen between 20 and 30 feature and documentary films along with a work-in-progress block of productions currently in the works. The Filmboutique takes place takes place at the Arena Filmcity Sept. 27-29.
International Film Music Competition
• The first International Film Music Competition invites participants to compose a piece for orchestra to accompany a six-minute short film. The winning composition will be announced during a finalists’ concert on Sept. 27 at the Tonhalle concert hall in Zurich.
Festival Honorees
• Richard Gere will receive the Golden Icon Award for lifetime achievement. Gere plays the lead in the financial thriller “Arbitrage,” one of Zurich’s Gala Premieres. As part of the tribute, the fest will screen a selection of his films in a retrospective. The fest will present Gere with the award on Sept. 23.
• John Travolta is being honored with the Golden Eye Award for his achievements in cinema on opening night, before the gala screening of Oliver Stone’s “Savages.” Sept. 20.
• The fest is also paying tribute to Jerry Weintraub with this year’s Zurich Film Festival’s Career Achievement Award. Weintraub is celebrating his 75th birthday in Zurich and will accept the Golden Eye in person on the same evening, Sept. 26.
• Filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Cloud Atlas”) is getting A Tribute to… award and a retro of his films including “Run Lola Run.”

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