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‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ ‘Custody,’ ‘Under the Tree’ to Compete in Zurich

Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Xavier Legrand’s “Custody” and Hafsteinn Gunnar’s “Under the Tree” are among the 15 feature films set to compete at the 13th Zurich Film Festival.

“Three Billboards,” a darkly comic drama with Peter Dinklage and Frances McDormand, and “Custody,” a French drama exploring domestic strife, both world-premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won best screenplay and best director awards, respectively. “Custody” also picked up the Lion of the Future for best first film.

“Under the Tree” is an Icelandic dramedy which world-premiered in Venice and is playing in Toronto, where it was just acquired by Magnolia for North American distribution.

Zurich’s competition lineup also includes Joshua Z. Weinstein’s “Menashe,” Justin Chon’s “Gook,” Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato’s “The Desert Bride,” Julia Solomonoff’s “Nobody’s Watching,” Kirsten Tan’s “Pop Aye,” Constantin Popescu’s “Pororoca,” Matan Yair’s “Scaffolding” and Jaron Albertin’s “Weightless.”

“We are presenting a substantial, high-caliber program with many of this autumn’s big-name titles. The ZFF is now internationally renowned and is regarded as an important and popular meeting place for both the industry and audiences alike,” said festival directors Nadja Schildknecht and Karl Spoerri.

The out-of-competition roster is headlined by Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” Janus Metz’s “Borg/McEnroe,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winning “The Square,” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here.”

Zurich’s lineup includes a total of 160 productions, including 41 debut works and 12 world premieres. Swiss cinema is well represented with 15 productions.

This year’s festival will boast a strong presence of female talent, notably Glenn Close, Alicia Vikander, Claire Foy, Valeria Golino, Birgit Minichmayr, Emmanuelle Seigner, Ildiko Enyedi, Tonie Marshall, Léa Pool, Lisa Brühlmann, Marie Leuenberger and Monica Gubser.

“Of course there is a little bit of luck involved, but we are still very proud to be screening not less than 38 films by female directors,” said Spoerri, citing “The Wife” and “Battle of the Sexes.” 

Spoerri said films like Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game” “make it clear that women are the center of attention.”

“The proportion of women in the three competition sections is even higher at between 35% and 40%. We have nothing to be ashamed of when considering the male-to-female ratio discussion currently occupying the film industry from Hollywood to Swiss cinema,” Spoerri added.

The Venice Film Festival recently came in for criticism for having only one film directed by a woman out of the 21 in the official competition.

Zurich will honor director-producer Rob Reiner, who will receive a tribute award and present the world premiere of his latest film “Shock and Me”; screenwriter Aaron Sorkin who will receive this year’s Career Achievement Award; and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Andrew Garfield, who will be given the Golden Eye Award.

Other high-profile guests expected at the festival include Al Gore, Marc Forster, producer Michel Merkt, directors Östlund and Guadagnino, Janus Metz, Sverrir Gudnason, Ronny Sandhal, Andrew Haigh, Claes Bang, Mike White, Xavier Beauvois, Andy Serkis and Michael R. Roskam.

Zurich Film Festival will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 8.

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