France to be this year’s guest country

14. July 2020

We wish the Grande Nation of culture a ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’ today as she celebrates her birthday. And we also have a surprise in store for Francophiles everywhere: we’re set to honour French cinema in the 16th Zurich Film Festival’s ‘New World View’ section, where we’ll screen the works of a whole generation of young cineastes who portray a multi-cultural country with an impressive narrative urgency. 


The ZFF has been highlighting countries on the brink of a renewed surge in their cinematic output in its ‘New World View’ section since 2007. This year’s guest country is France. “France is the motherland of cinephilia, and the western world’s second most important cinema nation after the USA. It produces more than 200 films a year and boasts its own star system. This Grande Nation is currently experiencing a new dawn of auteur cinema, with young directors using film to portray a multi-cultural society,” explained Christian Jungen. “We’d like to promote this cinema in Zurich, where we aim to restore the tradition of screening French movies. Cinema operators in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich have always waited to gauge a French film’s success in Zurich before daring to screen it themselves.”
The films were selected by the section’s curator and the festival’s Head of Programme, Georg Bütler. “French auteur film, which reached global cult status with the ‘Nouvelle Vague’ movement, has been declared dead several times over the years – especially in France itself, where demands for a better representation of the new generation are on the table,“ explains Bütler. He continues: “A peek behind the façade of this passionate and sometimes polemic debate with regard to the quality of French film reveals an incredibly multifaceted, ever-renewing cinema that grates creatively against its filmmaking heritage, and one that is able to challenge established narrative patterns with an enduring spirit of innovation. Which is why we have set our sights this year on the vital new generation of our neighbouring country.”          

We continue to nurture an already long-term relationship with young French filmmakers: Justine Triet, a key figure of the scene, was selected to compete at the ZFF with her debut work LA BATAILLE DE SOLFERINO (2013); emerging French directors, such as Céline Sciamma, Maïwenn and Mia Hansen-Løve, screened works in our 2015 ‘Window’ section entitled ‘Nouvelle vague au féminin’; and finally, last year, director Ladj Ly’s widely recognised, soon-to-be Oscar-nominated debut LES MISÉRABLES also appeared in our programme. Numerous other exponents of French cinema, such as Rebecca Zlotowski, Claire Burger, Alice Winocour, Morgan Simon, Jean-Bernard Marlin, Guillaume Brac, Léonor Serraille, Benjamin Renner and Jérémy Clapin, have presented their films in Zurich. Also in 2020, many French filmmakers will be in Zurich to present their films personally.

“We look forward to promoting the creativity, culture and discovery of France in Switzerland,” emphasise the French Embassy in Switzerland and Atout France, the French agency for tourism, who are cooperating with the ZFF for the ‘New World View’ section. “We’re delighted that the internationally renowned Zurich Film Festival has chosen to spotlight French cinema and culture. In these times of change, cinema can be more inspirational than ever in discovering new worlds, a window to the world that generates positive emotions.” As in previous years, Unifrance, the agency for the promotion of French film, will also actively support the ZFF. 

Many prominent figures of this new generation hail from a dynamic short film scene that provides fertile ground for the creative development of French cinema. It is all the more gratifying, therefore, that continuing a long-term festival partnership, the Winterthur International Short Film Festival will once again present a short film block to complement our ‘New World View’ section.   

The section’s 12-14 feature and documentary film titles and the short film block programme will be revealed on September 10, for the first time also at a press conference in French-speaking Switzerland. We’ll also join forces with our partners to organise several events that focus on France. The Zurich Film Festival takes place this year from September 24 until October 4.

The section ‘New World View’ is supported by Zurich Airport