Committed filmmaking: "Border Lines" at ZFF

06. September 2021

The 17th Zurich Film Festival places its finger on the open wounds of the present in its “Border Lines” section.

The Zurich Film Festival’s “Border Lines” section presents films dealing with border situations occurring in present-day world conditions, humanitarian projects, territorial and social conflicts, and conflicts between individuals and the state. The section is organised by the ZFF in collaboration with Amnesty International, the ZFF’s Human Rights Partner. Two film talks with guests from Amnesty International compliment the film programme.

The programme comprises seven films, each leading to another region of the world. “Films allow viewers to participate in world events more directly than any other medium,” says Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the ZFF. “Thanks to these courageous filmmakers, we are able to look behind the headlines and experience personal destinies at close quarters: a man who fled Afghanistan 20 years ago is now confronting his trauma; girls recruited by IS and now facing an unresolved future in a Kurdish refugee camp; people risking their lives in the Hong Kong protests – the films in the ‘Border Lines’ section not only place their finger on the wounds of the present, but also highlight those who are actively working for a better future, which is why they are of special interest to us.”     

This year’s Zurich Film Festival takes place from September 23 until October 3.

The complete programme of the 17th ZFF will be published on Thursday, September 9, from 12 noon on our Website. It can also be viewed on the official festival app Tribo, where a personal festival programme can be compiled as well. Ticket sales start at 12 noon on September 13.


Swiss Premiere | Doc: Social & Human Interest | India, 2021
Director: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh
Protagonists: Meera Devi, Suneeta Prajapati, Shyamkali Devi, Alima Tarannum, Alka Manral

For Meera, thorough journalism is the key to justice. That's why she founded the only newspaper in the whole of India published entirely by Dalit women, the so-called "untouchables" – the very lowest caste. Every day, they fight for social change, even if it means risking their own safety, thus boldly questioning the social system.

On September 26, 2021 (18:15, Filmpodium) with guests and a discussion after the screening.



Doc: Social & Human Interest | Denmark, 2021
Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

In 1989, Amin had to flee Afghanistan with his family – but he was the only one who eventually made it to Copenhagen. Twenty years later, the now respected academic is about to marry his partner. This ground-breaking animated documentary about flight, migration and the search for identity in contemporary Europe won the main award at Sundance and is now considered a contender for the Oscars.

On September 29, 2021 (18:30, Piccadilly) with guests and a discussion after the screening.



Swiss Premiere | Doc: Social & Human Interest | France, Belgium, Papua New Guinea, 2021
Director: Céline Rouzet

The promise of money and modernisation has persuaded a Huli family living in the picturesque highlands in the heart of Papua New Guinea to sell their land to U.S. corporation ExxonMobil. This documentary accompanies the powerless locals caught between rival clans, corrupt politicians and a seemingly cynical multinational corporation.



Swiss Premiere | Doc: Social Interest & Politics | Hong Kong, 2020
Director: Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers

"We can't afford to be afraid" are the echoes of the mass protest in Hong Kong in November 2019. When protestors find themselves surrounded by police inside the red-brick walls of the University, their initial courage turns to despair as turning themselves in means arrest - or much worse. Made anonymously and banned in Hong Kong, this documentary comes from the heart of the protest movement.


© TheReturnLifeAfterISIS 2020


Swiss Premiere | Doc: Social & Human Interest | Spain, UK, 2021
Director: Alba Sotorra Clua
Protagonists: Shamima Begum, Hoda Muthana

The Brit Shamima is lured to Syria by ISIS at age 15. The American Hoda calls for people online to join ISIS. After turning their backs on the terrorist organisation, the two are now stuck in a refugee camp with thousands of other women, where they are cared for by Kurdish human rights activists. The harsh reality of these lost women is portrayed impressively. Can a solution for their situation be found?



Swiss Premiere | Drama | Kosovo, Switzerland, Macedonia, Albania, 2021
Director: Blerta Basholi
Cast: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha, Adriana Matoshi

Fahrije's husband has been considered missing since the end of the war – like so many other men from her village in rural Kosovo. When she decides one day to get her driver's license and sell homemade sauces in town, she faces opposition from her patriarchal village. Fahrije, however, is not intimidated and soon other women dare to help her in her revolutionary venture.



Premiere in the German-language realm | Doc: Social & Human Interest | USA, 2021
Director: Theo Anthony

Cameras, guns, policing and justice – the pillars of surveillance have always closely correlated with photographic innovation. The film takes us to Arizona, among other places, to the leading U.S. manufacturer of body cameras and tasers, and shows how they are introduced in police training rooms. A kaleidoscopic essay about visual perception and modern policing methodology.