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A Chiara directed by Jonas Carpignano
A Chiara directed by Jonas Carpignano

The prizes of the 17th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) were presented during the Award Night with the Golden Eye prizes going to The Fam (La Mif) by Fred Baillif in Focus Competition, A Chiara by Jonas Carpignano won the Golden Eye for Best Feature Film, and Life Of Ivanna by Renato Borrayo Serrano won the Golden Eye for Best Documentary Film. The ZFF Children’s Jury presented the Little Golden Eye to The Wolf and the Lion (Le loup et le lion).

“A lot more people attended the Zurich Film Festival than we could have hoped, which shows that cinema is back. Many filmmakers were able to present their films to a real audience in a movie theatre for the first time and were touched by their encounters with the viewers,” emphasized Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the ZFF.

Focus Competition

Focus Competition Winner: LA MIF / THE FAM

This category focusses on films from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The winner of the Golden Eye in the category this year goes to LA MIF (Switzerland, 2021). Swiss director Fred Bailif accepted the award in person. Set in a home for girls, the director worked with actual home residents who co-wrote the script, improvised and delivered impressively uninhibited performances for the authentic social drama LA MIF.

Special Mention:

Behind the Headlines (Hinter den Schlagzeilen) (Germany, 2021) by Daniel Andreas Sager – as “this outstanding documentary truly succeeds in giving the Audience a unique insight into investigative journalism. It is pure suspense and a plea for the Fourth Estate – very important in this age of Fake News.”

Feature Film Competition

Feature Film Competition Winner: A CHIARA

The 17th Zurich Film Festival’s Golden Eye for Best Feature Film went to A CHIARA by Jonas Carpignano (Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark, 2021). A CHIARA is the third film by Carpignano to appear in the ZFF program. In this neorealist mafia and family drama, 15-year-old Chiara discovers her father’s criminal involvement and delves deep into the milieu of the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta in search of answers. The film’s producer Paolo Carpignano, who is also the director’s father, accepted the award at the ZFF Award Night.

The jury unanimously decided to give this award to “a film that both gripped and moved us. We were swept away by the modern take on the Italian neorealist tradition, the exceptional use of music and sound design and the outstanding performances by Swami Rotolo and her family, all making their film debuts. This film is nothing less than a cinematic masterpiece.”

Special Mentions:

JOCKEY (USA, 2021) by Clint Bentley – “for this poetic and lyrical film with an incredible performance by Clifton Collins Jr.”

BALLAD OF A WHITE COW / GHASIDEYEH GAVE SEFID (Iran, France, 2021) by Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam – “for this complex blend of the intimate and the political, with outstanding cinematography and performances”, as the jury states.

Documentary Competition

Documentary Competition Winner: LIFE OF IVANNA / ZHIZN IVANNY

The 17th Zurich Film Festival’s Golden Eye for Best Documentary Film goes to LIFE OF IVANNA (Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, 2021) by Renato Borrayo Serrano. The doc follows a tough 26-year-old tundra nomad over the course of four years to show her fascinating yet equally harsh reality and highlights her struggle for the survival of her family.

The jury was convinced by “the strong visual storytelling and intimate observational filmmaking without judgement of a complex, courageous character. Both the filmmaker and the main protagonist share an overwhelming perseverance.”

Special mentions:

SOY LIBRE (France, Belgium, 2021) by Laure Portier – the jury wishes to highlight “the personal story told with love, sensitivity and high level of filmmaking craft”.

SABAYA (Sweden, 2021) by Hogir Hirori – the jury wishes to highlight “the brave filmmaking done with humility and urgency”.

Further Awards of the 17th ZFF:

ZFF for Kids – Jury Prize: LE LOUP ET LE LIONThe French director Gilles de Maistre’s LE LOUP ET LE LION (France, Canada, 2021) convinced the Kids Jury comprising 30 members and won the Mini Golden Eye. The adventure film tells of a young woman and her friendships with animals. The award was presented by the following three jury members: Loris Lätsch, Sophie Treiber and Penthesilea Falkenberg.

Audience Award: YOUTH TOPIA
The ZFF audience also represents an important jury: They vote for their favourite film from all the competition entries – this year’s choice is YOUTH TOPIA (Switzerland, Germany, 2021) by Dennis Stormer. The satire portrays the struggle between youthful wildness and a growing sense of duty in a society where an algorithm determines when people grow up. Present were the actresses Lia von Blarer and Elsa Langnäse, as well as Marisa Meier, Katrin Renz and Stefan Jäger from the production side.

Zurich Churches Film Prize: LA MIF / THE FAM
The West Swiss drama LA MIF (Switzerland, 2021) by Fred Baillif, which also won the Focus Competition, already won the Ecumenical Film Prize of the Zurich Churches on Thursday, September 30. Baillif tells of a home where girls from precarious backgrounds experience a new form of community.

“The film gives visibility to women who are otherwise not seen. It highlights with an urgent voice the importance of such institutions for our society. In them, young people find a safe space despite all adversities and traumatic experiences,” summed up jury president and film lecturer Lucie Bader.

The Science Film Award presented by the Eye On Science Association went in the form of a statue and certificate to the American filmmaker Theo Anthony for ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE (USA, 2021). The documentary film tells of a time in which surveillance technologies increasingly determine our lives.

The jury gave the following reason for its choice: “ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE receives the Science Film Award for the poetic and self-reflective exploration of surveillance technologies, data science, justice, truth and ultimately objectivity. Through a highly original approach, the film investigates the role of images and videos in our daily lives and encourages the audience to reflect on scientific evidence – especially if perceived through a camera lense. In that sense, the film ultimately also consciously questions itself without making any claim to absolute objectivity.”

Emerging Swiss Talent Award (Critics’ Award): AZOR
The prize of the Critics’ Jury (Guy Lodge, E. Nina Rothe, Max Borg) for a Swiss debut work goes to the finance thriller AZOR (Switzerland, France, Argentina, 2021) by the Geneva-born filmmaker Andreas Fontana.

The jury chose the film, which tells of a Swiss private banker in 80s Argentina, “because of its self-conscious restraint, its detailed and authentic evocation of a particular place and time, its elegant subversion of genre conventions and its fusion of Swiss cinema with a truly global sensibility”.

Best International Film Music: Andrey Mordovsky
At the 9th International Film Music Competition, which took place on September 30 at the Tonhalle Zurich, the young Russian composer Andrey Mordovsky accepted the Golden Eye endowed with a 10’000 Swiss franc cash prize for “Best International Film Music” for his scoring of the short film ETIQUETA NEGRA by David Vergés.

The jury (presided over by Academy Award and ZFF Career Achievement Award-winner Mychael Danna) praised Mordovsky’s film music as “bold and audacious, eccentric and full of irony, like the portrayed film itself. The score is skilfully orchestrated with interesting colours and ultimately manages to create a world that mirrors the film in almost every respect.”

Honorary Awards

Golden Icon: Sharon Stone
The acting icon was rewarded with the ZFF’s highest accolade. In his laudation, Christian Jungen called her: “a woman Hitchcock would have loved: Mysterious, sometimes dangerous and smarter than any man.”

Game Changer Award: Pamela Abdy
The President of the legendary studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) Motion Picture Group received the award during the Zurich Summit for excellence in the film business and for her services to cinema.

A Tribute To… Award: Paolo Sorrentino
The Italian Oscar-winning director and screenwriter received the ZFF’s highest accolade for an auteur filmmaker and presented his most recent work È STATA LA MANO DI DIO.

Career Achievement Award: Mychael Danna
The Canadian film music composer, whose score for LIFE OF PI won him an Oscar, accepted the honour for his oeuvre during the 9th International Film Music Competition (the jury of which he also presided over) at the Tonhalle in Zurich.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Paul Schrader
The American screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, who wrote film history with TAXI DRIVER et al. and is regarded as an icon of New Hollywood received the award for his life’s work.

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