Hochwald by Evi Romen
Hochwald by Evi Romen

Hochwald by Evi Romen (Austria, Belgium) is the winner of the Golden Eye of the 16th Zurich Film Festival for the best film in focus competition. The film tells the story of Mario, who breaks out of his South Tyrolean homeland with his childhood friend Lenz and visits a gay bar in Rome with him. When Lenz falls victim during an armed attack, Mario returns to his home village, where his life gradually falls apart.

The jury justified its choice as follows: “With its variety of topics, Hochwald is taking a risk that the main actor Thomas Prenn knows how to master at every point. We follow him through the most dramatic twists and turns that confront us with his role as an outsider and our prejudices. The director Evi Romen convinced us with the choice and staging of her cast and the way she handled the narrative rhythm and visuality. We are curious about her further cinematic work.”

Special mentions went to One of These Days by Bastian Günther (Germany, USA) and Wood by Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan, Michaela Kirst and Ebba Sinzinger (Austria, Germany, Romania).

The Golden Eye of the 16th Zurich Film Festival for the best film in the feature film competition went to Sin Señas Particulares by Fernanda Valadez (Mexico, Spain). The drama revolves around Magdalena, who travels north through a desolate Mexican landscape in search of her son, who left for the United States and is presumed to be dead.

The Golden Eye of the 16th Zurich Film Festival for the best film in the documentary competition went to Time by Garrett Bradley (USA). The documentary portrays Sibil and her husband Rob, who are said to have robbed a bank 21 years ago. While she got away with a minor sentence, he was sentenced to 60 years in Louisiana State Prison. Sibil has been fighting for the pardon of her husband for two decades – and records family life with a video camera.

Special mentions went to The Earth Is Blue as an Orange by Iryna Tsilyk (Ukraine, Lithuania) and Acasă – My Home by Radu Ciorniciuc (Romania).

Cry Wolf by Maja Jul Larsen (Denmark) won the Golden Eye of the 16th Zurich Film Festival for the best Series. The series is about 14-year-old Holly, who accuses her stepfather of raping her in a school essay. Holly’s mother and the accused himself portray the serious allegations as fantasies and the search for the truth between the two statements begins.

A special mention went to Antidisturbios by Rodrigo Sorogoyen and Isabel Peña (Spain).

Karin Heberlein was able to win over audiences with her feature film Sami, Joe und ich to win the Audience Award. The winning film tells the story of the three girls Sami, Joe and Leyla, who are confronted with various problems at the end of their school days together.

Through the Gamechanger Award, the ZFF honors personalities at the Zurich Summit who give the film industry a new energy through their work. This year’s award went to the Swiss distribution company Ascot Elite in thanks for its services to both the Zurich Film Festival and Swiss film. Co-CEOs Karin Dietrich, Ralph Dietrich and Stephan Giger accepted the award. Festival director Christian Jungen explains: “The ZFF owes a lot to Ascot Elite. The company has managed to bring big films and stars to the festival for many years. This year, for example, Ascot Elite presented the European premiere of Dominic Cook’s spy thriller The Courier.”

Jonathan Elbers won over the 30-member children’s jury with his drama The Club of Ugly Children, winning the Children’s Jury Prize. The film tackles topics such as discrimination, independence and friendship.

The audience award of the “ZFF for Children” section went to Little Crumb by Diede In’t Veld from the Netherlands, who recreates the classic children’s book.

The Critics’ Jury Prize went to the documentary 80,000 Schnitzel by Hannah Schweier (Germany). It documents the life of the 83-year-old landlady Berta and her granddaughter Monika, who are trying to save the family business in Upper Palatinate together. The Jury consists of Murièle Weber, Geri Krebs and Majid Movasseghi.

The Science Award, launched by Eye on Science, will be presented for the second time this year and will be presented to Nathan Grossman for his documentary I Am Greta, in which he closely follows the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg on her mission to stop climate change. The jury justified their choice as follows: “Although everyone has heard of Greta, this documentary shows the person behind the icon. In this way, the filmmaker is able to be part of Greta’s journey from the very beginning. With sensitivity and respect, he creates a fascinating and insightful portrait that focuses closely on how this young woman, with unique determination, goes from being a child to the catalyst of a worldwide movement with her call ‘I want you to unite behind science'”

The Swiss coming-of-age drama Sami, Joe und ichby Karin Heberlein was awarded the film prize of the Zurich Churches last Thursday, October 1st. “The director’s acting is convincing through its precision and empathy. The actresses’ authentic play is impressive,” the jury stated.

The film Flesh and Blood by Ares Ceylan convinced the jury headed by President Rolf Lyssy, to award it the Treatment Award. Lyssy explains: “A fictional film story has to be convincing even at the exposé level. This is what Ares Ceylan’s tragicomic road movie exposé Flesh and Blood does in a partly funny, partly touching way.”

From more than 180 submissions, the three best 72-second films were awarded in the following three categories; Jury Award to Marty Trezzini for How to Become a Hero, Mobile Filming Award to Boot_Clip-01.mov by Cyril Fischer and Viewers Award to The Real Hero by Lutharsan Sivalingarajah.

The 16th Zurich Film Festival recorded around 68,000 visitors. “We expected a third of last year’s visitors. We have exceeded this goal by far. The ZFF helped people rediscover the cinema and finally the filmmakers were able to present their works to audiences in person again,” explains Festival Director Christian Jungen, adding: “We are very satisfied. The 16th ZFF was a great success.”

The 17th edition of Zurich Film Festival will take place from September 23 to October 3, 2021.

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