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 twelve 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 fourteen first, second and third directorial works compete for the Golden Eye Award.

Documentary Competition


An intriguing look behind the headlines: Twelve 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 (out of competition).

Special Screenings

We present a selection of unique and brand new feature and documentary films in the „Special Screenings“ section (out of competition).

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:

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)

At the upcoming 17th Zurich Film Festival, Tunisia will take center stage of this section.

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 (out of competition).

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).


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.


ZFFs "Series" section presents on the big screen (mini)series that signal new trends and/or have garnered attention from the global TV world. Series of all genres are eligible for the section as along as they celebrate their Swiss premiere at the ZFF. Entry to all screenings in this section is free of charge.

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 by a separate jury. The Golden Eye is endowed with a 25 000 CHF cash prize (Feature, Documentary and Focus competition).
  • 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.
  • ZFF for Kids Audience Award: viewers of the 'ZFF for Kids' films get to choose their favourite.
  • 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.
  • Honorary Awards: The festival honours outstanding filmmakers and actors with a 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 ‘Competition Focus’ 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 awarded. The jury consists of experts from the film industry and science.