Zurich Film Festival 2020

The 16th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) opened this September to astounding numbers of attendees, selling out nearly 100 screenings and welcoming dozens of world-renowned stars to the event. The festival’s turnout for 2020 has left organisers baffled, as the festival circuit suffered such a hard blow after the onset of Coronavirus. To their surprise, the festival managed to screen a record number of 23 premiers and welcomed nearly 68,000 visitors.

“We are highly satisfied. With the ZFF, we wanted to send a signal of optimism and new beginnings. And we succeeded. It has been shown that people are keen on cinema again.”

sums up director Christian Jungen

The 16th Zurich Film Festival is the first major event to take place in Switzerland since the onset of the virus and is also the first international film festival to be held since lockdowns began sweeping across Europe earlier in the year.

The goal of this year’s ZFF was to highlight a new generation of filmmakers and caste a light on people in the industry who are working to change the status quo. As is customary each year, the festival’s hashtag section aims to bring attention to important topics of our time. This year the festival went with the hashtag #GetUpStandUp to turn the spotlight on people who fight against social conventions.

To expand their reach across industries, the ZFF has begun to grow into the realm of music. This year the Zurich Film Festival entered into a strategic alliance with the Montreux Jazz Festival, which is known as one of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals. This partnership allowed the Montreux Jazz festival to organize concerts around Zurich by also partnering with SoundTrack Zurich congress. In an event organized by SoundTrack Zurich, musician and Grammy award-winning artist Ray Parker Jr., best known for his work composing the “Ghostbusters” soundtrack, presented his new film. The film is titled “Who You Gonna Call,” and offers an inside look into his experience growing up in Detroit, Michigan and his rise into the music industry.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this year’s Zurich Film Festival was the joy that attending artists and filmmakers felt as they presented their work to a live audience for the first time in nearly a year. The ZFF welcomed world-renowned stars such as Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Maïwenn, and Rolf Lyssy. Depp presented the documentary film he produced titled, “Crock of Gold” which tells the story of Irish Punk Band, The Pogues. Juliette Binoche was awarded the Golden Icon Award, Maïwenn received the “A Tribute to….” award, and Lyssy was honored with the Career Achievement Award.

On the Award Night at the Zurich Opera House, the Golden Eyes, which are each worth 25,000 Swiss francs, were given to the winners of the three competition sections.

This year the Zurich Film Festival brought together world-class talent from around the globe. Filmmakers and attendees alike enjoyed the thrill of once-again experiencing the magnitude of cinema in its natural setting, among lovers and creators of the craft.

Golden Eye at the Opera House Zurich. Photo by Roman Schubert for Zurich Film Festival