The ninth Zurich Film Festival ended yesterday and so it’s time to write up a short recap of the happenings around it. According to their official press release, a total of 71’000 visitors attended the screenings around the city. That marks an impressive growth of 22%. Like I’ve mentioned before, I got the chance to see two movies. Also, I’ll take a short look at the prize winners, although I wasn’t able to catch them.
The Zurich Film Festival hands out four “Golden Eyes” for the categories “International Feature Film”, “International Documentary Film”, “German-Language Feature Film” and “German-Language Documentary Film”.
“La Jaula de Oro”, or “The Golden Cage”, is a Mexican movie with a plot concerning immigration to the United States and took home the award in the feature film category. The award for international documentaries went to Denmark’s “Lej en familie A/S” (Rent A Family Inc.), while the one for German-language ones stayed in Switzerland with “Neuland” winning. The fourth award went to the German movie “Finsterworld”.
Predictably, Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine drew the most fans when he arrived in Zurich to accept his Golden Icon Award, but he was given a run for his money by the iconic Harrison Ford, who picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award. Their appearances is a great sign for the festival, which has been growing in stature for a few years now. It’s difficult not to be excited for next year’s tenth anniversary.
The atmosphere around the cinemas during the festival felt like a breath of fresh air. Many cafés and restaurants around the Sechseläutenplatz were decorated appropriately and the one of the sponsoring radio stations covered the whole event from a special booth on the plaza. The main cinema, the Corso (my favorite in Zurich) was decked out with a special green carpet and even the large premieres did not impact the busy tram schedules too heavily.
But now I’ll focus on the two movies I actually got to see at the festival and which both will probably not be released across Switzerland: The Way, Way Back and The Spectacular Now.
I talked about The Way, Way Back a bit in last Wednesday’s post. The movie received a warm reception by visitors. Liam James stands out with his at times cringeworthy, but ultimately very empowering performance as teenage outsider Duncan. AnnaSophia Robb as his rebellious, beautiful and bored love interest, steals many of the scenes she’s in, finding exactly the right balance between teenage insecurity and overconfidence. I’m however very glad that their love story is not the central element of the movie. It’s more about leaving your comfort zone, learning to deal with adversity and constantly evolving.
I was extremely excited for “The Spectacular Now” in my preview and I actually tried to make time go by faster like a kid before Christmas on the day of the screening. It did not disappoint and immediately found a way into my heart. It’s definitely in my top five movies of all time and I’m sure I’ll rewatch it a few times.
Miles Teller is fantastic as the lead character “Sutter Keely”, an outgoing, hedonistic teenager with a large heart and alcohol problem. Shailene Woodley delivers a great performance as Aimee Finecky, a quiet and kind girl totally smitten by the sudden attention of her High School’s Golden Boy. It’s no surprise that she is going to be in the movie adaptations of two massively successful YA novels (The Fault In Our Stars and Divergent) and was supposed to appear in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (her scenes have since been cut out and are poised to appear in a third installment) next year. The two leads carry the movie straight from the beginning and their chemistry is excellent. The movie was less funny than I had anticipated, but the story is told with extreme grace and tenderness. It definitely feels timeless now, but of course only the future can tell if it will hold up as well as the John Hughes films of the 80’s.
To end this post, I’ll just quote my favorite scene of the movie, which is something I full-heartedly agree with (both sides).
Sutter: “What’s your story?”
Aimee: “I don’t really have any stories.”
Sutter: “What do you mean? Every one has got a story.”
Aimee: “I don’t know. I like to think that there’s more to a person than just one thing.”
The Zurich Film Festival returns on September 25, 2014. I’m looking forward to it.