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Documentaries, Dramas, Comedies at the Zurich Film Festival Gala Premières

The Zurich Film Festival, starting on Thursday September 25th, will have many Gala Premières. No matter if you prefer documentaries, dramas, comedies or thrillers, there will certainly have something for you.

THE CUT- copyright ZFF

THE CUT- copyright ZFF

See below the summaries of  some of the Galas:

Mia Hansen-Løve

Fascinated by American garage house, the shy teenager Paul lays down his first record in 1990s Paris. This new electric-wave dominates party life, and cocaine and ecstasy turn every night into day. Paul tumbles into an exhilarating world of beats and volatile bedtime stories. Soon thousands are dancing to his rhythms in trendy Parisian clubs. In this atmospherically dense social study, director Mia Hansen-Løve traces the development of electronic music in France. Greta Gerwig und Brady Corbet shine in the leading roles.

GONE GIRL - Copyright ZFF

GONE GIRL – Copyright ZFF

David Fincher

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick kill his wife?

GOOD KILL  - Copyright ZFF

GOOD KILL – Copyright ZFF

Andrew Niccol

A ‚good kill’ is when an enemy has been killed precisely – in this case, via computer. American officer Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke), an ambitious fighter pilot until being exempt from service, controls fighter drones. He sits at a computer and fights terrorists in the Near East at the touch of a button. When Egan is ordered to carry out instructions that have a questionable goal, he finds himself faced with a moral dilemma. With GOOD KILL, director Andrew Niccol broaches a highly controversial subject: Conducting war on a computer.

IM KELLER - Copyright ZFF

IM KELLER – Copyright ZFF

Ulrich Seidl

IM KELLER, the latest documentary film from Austrian film author Ulrich Seidl, explores what people get up to in their basements. “Many Austrians spend more time in the basement of their family home than in the living room, where they indulge in their actual passions and obsessions”, says Siedl. The film deals with fitness and fascism, dolls and whips, sexual obsessions and dirty jokes. IM KELLER is a journey into the basement of the Austrian soul.

ST. VINCENT  - Copyright ZFF

ST. VINCENT – Copyright ZFF

Theodore Melfi

A dream part for the reticent Bill Murray, who plays the title role in director Theodore Melfi’s melancholic comedy ST. VINCENT – a bitter war veteran of the same name whose days living in Brooklyn centre around alcohol, gambling and prostitution. When Maggie and her twelve-year-old son, Oliver, move into the neighbouring house, St. Vincent takes care of the boy. Their gradually increasing affection for each other changes both their lives dramatically.



Antoine Fuqua

The fast-paced American action thriller THE EQUALIZER sees Denzel Washington play a former special task force undercover agent who faked his own death to ensure a life of peace.  He reverts back to his former self in order to rescue a prostitute, and suddenly finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters: When there’s nobody else to turn to – the Equalizer can help. Having previously worked with Denzel Washington on TRAINING DAY, director Antoine Fuqua’s latest production also features Chloë Grace Moretz and Melissa Leo.





François Ozon  

French director François Ozon’s film DANS LA MAISON screened at the ZFF two years ago. Now his latest production UNE NOUVELLE AMIE will also be shown in Zurich. This intimate film tells the story of the two friends Léa und Claire. Léa dies shortly after giving birth to her first child. Claire takes care of the child – and discovers that Léa’s husband has a preference for wearing women’s clothes. She is both shocked and fascinated… French shooting star Anaïs Demoustier puts in a convincing performance as Claire.


MANGLEHORN - copyright ZFF

MANGLEHORN – copyright ZFF

David Gordon Green

US director David Gordon Green, who presented his film JOE at last year’s Zurich Film Festival, attends again this year with the moving drama MANGLEHORN. AJ Manglehorn is tormented by the memories of the woman of his dreams. He still suffers from the fatal decision he made forty years previously, when he risked losing the love of his life, Clara, over one last ‚job’ – and ended up with a long-term jail sentence. Now living in a small town, the lonely man endeavours to build a new life for himself, and goes about his work as a locksmith, takes care of his cat, eats everyday at the same joint and chats every Friday to the same bank clerks – an apparently normal life. But Mangelhorn cannot ignore his deeply wounded psyche. He still writes letters to his old love in the hope that one day he will see her again. But it’s only a new acquaintance that can help Manglehorn put the pieces of his heart back together.

BIRDMAN - Copyright ZFF

BIRDMAN – Copyright ZFF

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Two-time Oscar nominated director and Golden Eye Award winner at Zurich Film Festival 2011 Alejandro González Iñárritu (BABEL and BIUTIFUL) leads us with his comic-inspired feature film starring former BATMAN star Michael Keaton through the world of superhero mania. One-time star actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), famous for his portrayal of the iconic superhero Birdman, has hit on hard times, both financially and personally. He intends to claw back his previous success by working on a new Broadway project. In the three days leading up to the opening night, he ends up in all manner of conflicts – be it with the piece’s neurotic leading actor (Edward Norton), or his daughter (Emma Stone). He has very little time to get his private life, his professional life and his mental health back in order.

MY OLD LADY - copyright ZFF

MY OLD LADY – copyright ZFF

Israel Horovitz

US dramatist Israel Horovitz delights with this equally warm and witty comedy. Mathias (Kevin Kline) is skint. And the death of this downtrodden New Yorker’s estranged father seems heaven-sent when he discovers he has inherited a large apartment in Paris. However, Mathias finds to his great annoyance that somebody else is already living there: Mathilde (Maggie Smith), a cultivated old lady who claims to be a contractually agreed life-long resident. Mathias, whose intention it was to liquidise his asset as soon as possible, is powerless to do anything. Reluctantly, he must now come to terms with not just Mathilde, but also her sharp-tongued daughter Chloé (Kristin Scott Thomas), who keeps an ever-protective eye on her mother. While discussing his options with an estate agent, Mathias discovers that the old lady was not just a tenant, but also the love of his father’s life for more than fifty years.




Frederick Wiseman

NATIONAL GALLERY is a documentary film by director Frederick Wiseman, one of the most important pioneers of the US American genre Direct Cinema. What do the pictures of Titian and William Turner, Caravaggio and Van Gogh teach us today? How are these masterpieces conveyed to audiences? What goes on behind the scenes of a museum establishment, and how is such an institution marketed? Master director Frederick Wiseman spent twelve weeks in 2012 at the National Gallery in London. Wiseman shows us in his Direct Cinema style what he as a viewer in the museum observes: Extraordinary close-ups of great art works, and everything else that goes into making a museum – the visitors and their view of the pictures; guided tours, lectures, concerts; curators, arts organisers, museum directors and marketing specialists busy at work. NATIONAL GALLERY is both a film about art and it’s power, and a portrait of a remarkable institution.



Fatih Akin

Mardin, 1915: One night, the Turkish gendarmerie rounded up all Armenian men. The young blacksmith Nazaret Manoogian is also separated from is family. After managing to escape the horror of genocide, he receives news years later that his twin daughters have also survived. Obsessed by the thought of a reunion, he sets out to trace them. The trail takes him from the deserts of Mesopotamia, across Havana to the barren and isolated prairies of North Dakota. He meets many different people on his odyssey: From angelic and benevolent characters to the devil incarnate. THE CUT is the final episode of Fatih Akin’s trilogy “Love, Death and the Devil”. The term ‘devil’ is assigned to THE CUT because the film deals the evil in Man and includes that which is done to others – whether unconsciously or deliberately. The last part of this trilogy is characterized by Fatih Akin’s view of the world: “THE CUT has become a very personal film, its content deals with my conscience and its form with my love of cinema”.



Alice Rohrwacher

LE MERAVIGLIE casts a sensitive eye over a childhood in the countryside; the drawbacks, and most of all, the small wonders that such a life brings. Twelve-year-old Gelsomina basically calls the shots in her family. For her quiet father, she is the future queen of a small kingdom he has built up over the years. This patchwork family gets by on beekeeping in the middle of nowhere in northern Italy. It is an extraordinary summer, and the strict rules that have held the family together until now are starting to melt. First of all, Martin turns up, a peculiar German boy on a reintegration programme. Then Gelsomina hears of a TV show that the family has just got to apply to appear on… Alice Rohrwacher’s impressive second feature garnered the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

WHIPLASH - Copyright zff

WHIPLASH – Copyright zff

Damien Chazelle
In the fast-paced drama WHIPLASH, Damien Chazelle makes the devotion to music almost tangible, questions, however, how much passion a person can handle. Nineteen-year-old drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be more than just a musician. His greatest role model is no other than jazz legend Buddy Rich. During his first year at an elite music school in Manhattan, Andrew catches the attention of the infamous music teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who invites him to join his jazz band. Lessons with Fletcher are his best chance of success – but also the most difficult part of his training. This brutal perfectionist pushes the young musician to his physical and mental limits. Andrew’s dream is tested to breaking point. But Fletcher sees the potential in this talented young man and refuses to let up – he will either break or make it.

Would you like to go see a film? Check the program or more information on the ZFF website. And come back for our daily report when the festival starts.

Source of Movies summaries: ZFF Press

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