Film sections

Divided into three categories, the International Competition forms the core of the festival. In addition, the ZFF also offers top-class Gala Premieres and a wide variety of special series. 

High-class discoveries from around the globe: Here, 14 feature films compete against each other to win the Golden Eye. All competition films are the maximum third directorial work of promising filmmakers.

In the Focus Competition, the Golden Eye goes to the best feature or documentary film from Germany, Austria or Switzerland. All competition films are the maximum third directorial work of promising filmmakers.

In the Documentary Film Competition, 14 eye-opening films compete for the Golden Eye. All competition films are the maximum third directorial work of promising filmmakers.

In the Gala Premieres section, we present the most anticipated auteur films that have huge audience appeal.

In the Special Screenings section, we show formally innovative auteur films that stand out for their bold approach to their respective subject matter. Includes many festival hits.

Each year, Hashtag is dedicated to a current, widely discussed topic that is also making waves on social media. In this section, a diverse range of feature films and documentaries are shown that shed light on various issues from different angles. So far, the focus has been on the following topics: 

#Masculinity (2023) | #MyReligion (2022) | #letSEXplore (2021) | #GetUpStandUp (2020) | #SpeakingTheTruth (2019) | #BigData (2018)

Each year, New World View presents a new generation of filmmakers from a selected film-producing country or region that is experiencing a new cinematic dawn. The focus so far has been on the following countries:

Republic_local of Korea (2023) | Spain (2022) | Tunisia (2021) | France (2020) | Columbia (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)


In our Border Lines section, we present films that deal with issues currently dominating world affairs. The contributions here deal with human rights and humanitarian projects, territorial or social tensions and conflicts between individuals and the state.    

This section is organised in collaboration with Switzerland for UNHCR, the ZFF's Charity Partner.

The Window section comprises two windows: The Hong Kong Window presents a selection of film gems from Hong Kong and is organised in collaboration with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin. The San Sebastián Window presents a selection of films from Spain and Latin America that have screened at San Sebastián Film Festival. 

Sounds celebrates the relationship between film and music in all its facets. With an exquisite selection of feature films and documentaries, the focus here is on the soundtrack for once – regardless of whether the film offers a stage for musicians, captivates with exceptional film music, or deals with the topic of sound in a highly fundamental way. The programme is complemented by two special screenings: One accompanied by live music and one with a live commentary by the film composer.

The ZFF for Kids section presents outstanding children's and family films from around the world. The films are shown in their original language and translated live into German. In addition to the Audience Award, which is determined by all the kids in the audience, a 30-member Kids Jury, which is formed new each year, also awards its prize.  

In addition, the ZFF offers a year-round children's programme comprising workshops with cinema film viewings.

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