On the opening night of the 17th Zurich Film Festival, there was a sparkling surprise: Miniature Moët & Chandon Champagne.
I have been looking forward to late September when Zürich is in the international spotlight. During the eleven days of the Zurich Film Festival, the city is abuzz with industry professionals, media, producers, directors, and actors.
For the first time this year, the festival has a dedicated movieplex similar to what other film festivals have. Cannes has the Palais des Festivals, Berlin has the Berlinale Palast. And now, the Zurich Film Festival has the Tonhalle Zürich.
ZFF Opening Night Gala featuring Moët & Chandon
We are thrilled to be among the celebrity guests on opening night. It’s a mild evening in late September, and we decide to walk across the Quai bridge in order to enjoy the atmosphere.
The Tonhalle Zürich is located across the street from Lake Zurich, and there is already lots of activity. Limousines drop off guests in their black-tie attire, a TV anchor is rehearsing her segment, and we pass through the Covid-19 certificate check.
On the iconic green carpet inside the lobby, we are greeted by the festival’s new co-sponsors who have extended this invitation to us. Gregory Carrier is the managing director of Moët Hennessy Switzerland. His colleague, Valerie Kaplan von Lang, is a senior brand manager of Moët & Chandon. The Champagne brand has long been a sponsor of the Golden Globe Awards.
With a big smile, Valerie introduces us to the latest product of the prestigious Champagne brand. Moët Mini is a miniature bottle containing 2dl of Moët Imperial, the house’s iconic Champagne from 1869. This 21st-century pocket-size seems like the ideal companion for parties - or carpet events like this. (And as we would later find out, Moët Mini not only looks fabulous, it also tastes delicious.)
The global premiere of the Swiss movie “Und morgen seid ihr tot”
After walking the Green Carpet, we follow the music to the upper floor. A flying dinner is already in full swing, and Moët & Chandon Champagne is being served in gold tumblers. We mingle with friends and enjoy this moment a lot. I cannot recall the last time we’ve been so relieved at a large event, but it surely was before March 2020.
Here's yours truly with our friends from Harrys Ding:
Inside the Tonhalle orchestra, an enormous screen has been raised. Evidently, the auditorium offers space for 1300 viewers. This is near twice the capacity offered by the Corso theater where the festival had previously screened their premieres.
We sit among festival judges, sponsors, and celebrities. Just two seats down is Carlos Leal, the Swiss actor from Fribourg. I remember his name associated with Sens Unik, a Swiss hip hop band I used to listen to in my teenage years. His name is all over the place in TV shows and movies; a testament to his sheer talent as an actor.
More recently, I came across Carlos Leal’s name while researching James Bond in Switzerland: who knew that he had the role of casino director in Casino Royale?
Among the many guests is the President of the Swiss Confederation, Guy Parmelin. He kicks off the festival with a bilingual speech:
After the screening of the Swiss drama, Und morgen seid ihr tot, we realize that the real-life couple who inspired the movie was present all along. Daniela Widmer and David Och, as well as the talented actors who portrayed them, are sitting in the audience this very opening night.
Here's a scene from the movie starring Morgane Ferru and Sven Schelker:
And here is the cast and crew on the green carpet. From the second on the left to the right: director Michael Steiner, actress Morgane Ferru, Daniela Widmer, actor Sven Schelker, and David Och.
This goes to show what I love most about the Zurich Film Festival: it is the fact that many movies are screened in the presence of their directors or cast members. Be it a major release or an arthouse pick favored by the festivals, the people involved are often seated among mortals like you and me.
(We've attended the opening night of the 17th Zurich Film Festival on invitation by Moët & Chandon Switzerland.)