The 18th Zurich Film Festival kicked off this evening at Zurich Convention Center with the European premiere of the inspirational Netfilx production THE SWIMMERS. The film was presented personally by director Sally El Hosaini and actor Matthias Schweighöfer. The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis emphasized the unifying effect of cinema on people and set the mood for the 11 festival days with his speech. The Mayor of Zurich Corine Mauch praised the diverse and high-profile program of the 18th ZFF.
The ZFF came of age and commenced its 18th anniversary celebrations this evening at the Zurich Congress Center in the presence of countless celebrities from the fields of politics, commerce and culture. The Netflix production THE SWIMMERS by Sally El Hosaini screened as a European premiere. It tells the true story of sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini who were forced to flee the civil war sweeping their native Syria. Once in Germany, they met a swimming teacher (played by Matthias Schweighöfer) who trained them for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. “It is not just an inspirational film that reinforces our belief in the good of people,” explained Artistic Director Christian Jungen in his speech, “With war once again raging in Europe, it is also an extremely important film of our time, because it throws a spotlight on the plight of refugees.” Cinema is the medium of empathy that allows us to view the world through the eyes of others.
President Ignazio Cassis, who had just returned from New York, was pleased to open the ZFF and drew attention to the unifying effect of cinema on people: “Cinemas as modern campfires, films as a means of understanding across borders, and the industry as a bold, creative field: these three points, in my opinion, demonstrate the continuing importance of filmmaking, especially in challenging times!”
The Mayor of Zurich Corine Mauch highlighted in her speech the diversity and superior quality of the ZFF programme, “Films are not just beautiful, they are also powerful and magical, not least because we share them with each other. Seen from this perspective, the Zurich Film Festival is much more than just a fantastic programme with 146 films, some even screen as world premieres.”
The Zurich Film Festival runs until October 2. It shows 146 films, including a record 38 world and European premieres. Star guests like Eddie Redmayne, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sir Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Til Schweiger, Daniel Brühl and Iris Berben are all expected in Zurich over the coming days.