Competition & Prizes

The International Competition forms the core of the festival. The competition will present films by new, aspiring filmmakers who will compete for the Golden Eye with their first, second or third directing works. All competition films are world, European or Swiss premieres.

Competition Categories

Films will be screened in the following categories:

  • International Feature Film Competition
  • International Documentary Film Competition
  • Focus Switzerland, Germany, Austria


  • A Golden Eye, the main prize of the festival, will be awarded in each category by a separate international jury. The Golden Eye is endowed with a 25 000 CHF cash prize (International Feature / Documentary Film) resp. a 20'000 CHF cash prize (Focus).
  • Emerging Swiss Talent Award: All Swiss productions (director's 1st, 2nd or 3rd feature film) screened at the festival are nominated for the award, which is endowed with a CHF 10'000 cash prize.
  • Audience Award: The public chooses its favourite film from all of the competition entries by giving votes to every film. The best voted film will receive the Audience Award from the festival.
  • Critics’ Choice Award: The Swiss Association of Film Journalists will present their Critics’ Choice Award for the best debut feature film from the categories 'International Feature Film Competition' and 'Focus Switzerland, Germany, Austria'
  • Honorary Awards: The festival honours outstanding filmmakers and actors with a Golden Eye.

Past award winners and programmes can be found in the archive.

Film Submission

Find all the information about film submission by clicking here

Out of Competition

Gala Premieres

In the "Gala Premieres" section, Zurich Film Festival screens the year's most highly anticipated productions and international star-studded films.

Special Screenings

In the "Special Screenings" section, ZFF showcases some of the year's most compelling discoveries from around the globe, including narrative features and documentary films.

New World View

The "New World View" programme puts a spotlight on a new generation of filmmakers from a selected production country that has provided some of the most innovative new filmmaking in recent years.

The section has been dedicated to the following countries: Hungary (2017), Mexico (2016), Iran (2015), India (2014), Brazil (2013), Sweden (2012), Turkey (2011), Australia (2010), Argentina (2009), Israel (2008), Russia (2007)

Border Lines

The "Border Lines" section presents feature films and documentaries dealing with border lines situations that occur in present-day world conditions and humanitarian projects, as well as territorial and social conflicts and conflicts between the individual and the state.

Window to the World

Our “Window to the World” section comprises windows through which we take a look at various cinematographic traditions.


TV is experiencing a new golden age thanks to creative, innovative series and mini series featuring top-class casts. The festival remains abreast of this development with its "TVision" section, which presents tv productions that signal new trends and have garnered attention internationally.

ZFF for Kids

Laugh, discover, empathise, dive into the action, share the thrills, contemplate, understand and be amazed! Together with the Canton of Zurich’s Department of Education, the ZFF selects outstanding films for children and families. The films are shown in the original language and simultaneously translated into German. The "ZFF for Kids" series is organised in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF.

Film Music Competition

Introduced in 2012, the International Film Music Competition has become an integral part of the Zurich Film Festival’s side programme. It is a collaboration between the Zurich Film Festival and the Forum Filmmusik. Competition venue alternates between one of the festival cinemas and the Tonhalle Zürich. Composers of any age, any nationality and any domicile who have not set more than 3 feature films (longer than 60 minutes) to music are eligible to participate.

The competition requires entrants to compose a brand new score for a short film of about 5 minutes. A jury with renowned international experts will pick five entries to participate in the finals. These compositions will be world-premiered at a film music concert in the frame of the Zurich Film Festival. On the same evening, the winner will be chosen by an international jury and awarded the Golden Eye “Best International Film Music” endowed with CHF 10 000.

Competition details and entry forms are available under

ZFF Masters

The ZFF MASTERS are chaired discussions with celebrated personalities from the international film industry. They offer the public a fascinating insight into the creative process and attitude to film of directors, screenwriters, producers and actors. These renowned experts are available for public question-and-answer sessions.

The ZFF MASTERS are publicly accessible events aimed both at the film industry and festival visitors.

ZFF Talks

With film as its focus, the ZFF TALKS series offers experts from various sectors the opportunity to explore controversial issues currently affecting culture, science and politics. The ZFF TALKS are free of charge and open to the public.