Zurich fest plans further expansion

This year's festival continues through Oct. 7

ZURICH — After aiming for 25,000 visitors in just its third year, Zurich’s Film Festival has plans to expand even further.

The fledgling fest in Switzerland’s most populous city wants to secure its position as a platform for young directing talent.

“We want to grow in terms of quality and not just quantity,” said one of the festival’s co-founders, Nadja Schildknecht, “We have the aim to be an important festival for new talent in Europe.”

This year’s fest (Sept. 27-Oct. 7) was bigger than ever before, lasting 11 days and showing more than 50 films in seven arthouse cinemas around the compact city of Zurich.

The jury included actor-director Matthew Modine and Germany’s Moritz Bleibtreu, while producer Albert S. Ruddy chaired the panel.

They dished out 30,000 Swiss francs ($25,000) in prize money in three categories: fiction, young talent and documentary.

Fest’s biggest coup was the presence of helmer Oliver Stone, who staged a “master class” for upcoming talents.

Like the city itself, Zurich’s Film Festival has punched above its weight since it was launched three years ago by three thirtysomethings, Schildknecht, fest director Karl Spoerri and program director Antoine Monot Jr.

A particular favorite with the public this year was the world preem of Brit pic “Twelve in a Box,” directed by John McKenzie, which played to packed screenings.

“Hello Goodbye,” directed by Stefan Jaeger, was one of the notable Swiss films in the fest, also making its world premiere.

The fest and its red carpet have certainly brought a touch of glamour to the cobbled streets of Zurich’s Niederdorf quarter.

“We want to build up our network so that people are not saying, ‘Who? The Zurich Film Festival?’ but instead they are saying, ‘Ah! The Zurich Film Festival!’ ” said Schildknecht. “Sometimes this takes time, but the fact that it goes slowly means that it is more sustainable.”

But only three years in, the fest already seems to be winning plenty of attention.

“We are confident we can make it and that we can attract the important people and right people here. Zurich is a very lucrative and interesting town, and people like Oliver Stone are ambassadors to the outside world,” Schildknecht said.