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.

Focus Competition


We and our Neighbours: In the „Focus“ competition section, we present about 14 new feature and documentary films from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. All entries to this section are either first, second or third directorial works.

Feature Film Competition


Cinematic discoveries from all over the World: The Feature Film competition section sees about fourteen first, second and third directorial works compete for the Golden Eye Award.

Documentary Competition


An intriguing look behind the headlines: About 14 films compete in the Documentary Competition section for a Golden Eye. All entries to this section are either first, second or third directorial works.

Gala Premieres

The Gala Premieres section presents this year’s most highly anticipated films.

Special Screenings

We present a selection of unique and innovative feature and documentary films in the Special Screenings section.


The “Hashtag#” section is dedicated to films that focus on current topics and themes that dominate conversations around the world. Various Feature and Documentary Films that shine a light on the issue from different angles will be presented. So far, the focus has been on the following topics:

#MyReligion (2022) | #letSEXplore (2021) | #GetUpStandUp (2020) | #SpeakingTheTruth (2019) | #BigData (2018)

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 (out of competition). The section has been dedicated to the following countries:

Spain (2022) | Tunisia (2021) | France (2020) | Colombia (2019) | Italy (2018) | Hungary (2017) | Mexico (2016) | Iran (2015) | India (2014) | Brazil (2013) | Sweden (2012) | Turkey (2011) | Australia (2010) | Argentina (2009) | Israel (2008) | Russia (2007)



The "Sounds" section celebrates the relationship between film and music in all its diverse aspects. Since always film history has been closely linked to music, and that's exactly where "Sounds" wants to latch on. With an exquisite selection of feature and documentary films, for once the soundtrack takes center stage - whether the film shines its light on musicians, captivates with exceptional film music, or deals with the topic of sound in a very fundamental way. The program is complemented by two special screenings: One accompanied by live music and one with a live commentary by the film composer (out of competition).

Border Lines

The „Border Lines“ section presents films dealing with border situations occurring in present-day world conditions, and humanitarian projects, territorial and social conflicts, and conflicts between individuals and the state.

Organized in collaboration with Amnesty International, Human Rights Partner of ZFF.


Our “Window” section comprises windows through which we take a look at various cinematographic traditions. The Hong Kong Window presents a selection of unique and daring new films from Hong Kong ans is presented in collaboration with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin. The San Sebastián Window presents a selection of four films from Spain and Latin America that were screened as part of the San Sebastián Film Festival (out of competition).

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.



  • A Golden Eye, the main prize of the festival, will be awarded in each main competition category (Focus Competition, Feature Film Competition and Documentary Film Competition) by a separate jury. The Golden Eye is endowed with a 25 000 CHF 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.

  • Emerging Swiss Talent Award (Critics Award):  The Internatinal Critic's prize goes to the best Swiss debut film at the festival.
  • Honorary Awards: The festival honours outstanding filmmakers and actors with an honorary Golden Eye.
  • Ecumenical Film Award (Churches of Zurich): 2017 saw the first 'Film Award of the Churches of Zurich', which carries a CHF 10’000 cash prize offered by the reformed and catholic churches of the canton of Zurich. It is awarded by a separate jury to a film in the ‘Focus Competition’ section.
  • Science Film Award (Eye On Science): Five films compete for the Science Film Award, which is awarded by the association Eye On Science. Only films from the official ZFF programme that bring scientifically relevant topics closer to the general public in an attractive and entertaining way will be nominated. The jury consists of experts from the film industry and science.

  • Kids Jury Award: kids ranging in age from 10 to 13 can apply to become a member of the kids jury. They complete a workshop before choosing their favourite film from the 'ZFF for Kids' section. The winner receives the 'Mini Golden Eye' award.

  • ZFF for Kids Audience Award: viewers of the 'ZFF for Kids' films get to choose their favourite.