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Zurich Film Festival 2021 – the definite highlights

Those shorter days of autumn mean more time for movies.

In late September, when the Zurich Film Festival traditionally takes place, no excuse is needed to buy a festival pass and lean back in a comfy theater seat. When the lights come back on, the movie lovers among us would congregate outside in the warm autumn sun to discuss screenplays, projects, and celeb sightings...

Can you tell that I’m a Zurich Film Festival aficionado?

Zurich Film Festival 2021

Having attended the Zurich Film Festival for many years, I truly treasure those eleven days in late September. Once again, the largest autumn film festival in German-speaking countries is loaded with premiere screenings, curated collections, masterclasses, and carpet events.

For the 17th edition, the Zurich Film Festival has already released its movie program. Despite the pandemic, the festival took place virtually in 2020 with no less than 165 films, attracting 68'000 viewers. I am excited to be back in physical movie theaters, albeit with strict entry rules requiring a valid Covid certificate.

Here are the definite highlights of the Zurich Film Festival:

And Tomorrow We Will Be Dead -
Und morgen seid ihr tot

World premiere, Sept 23, 2021

The Zurich Film Festival will be launched with the world premiere of the hostage drama, And Tomorrow We Will Be Dead. To celebrate the occasion, the current president of the Swiss Confederation, the mayor of Zurich, as well as the film’s cast are expected to walk the green carpet ahead of the world premiere on Sept 23.

Copyright BVI Buena Vista International

The Swiss filmmaker, Michael Steiner, has previously scored with Grounding or Wolkenbruch. His latest film is based on a true story that unfolded in 2011. It revolves around two backpackers, a couple from Switzerland, who is kidnapped in Pakistan on their drive back after a visit to India. Daniela Widmer and David Och are handed over to the Taliban who hold them captive for eight months.

The trailer promises a hostage drama that will keep us at the edge of our seats:

Sharon Stone to receive the Golden Icon Award

Sept 25, 2021

During the annual Zurich Film Festival, Hollywood vibes can be felt throughout the city. Black limousines are whizzing the stars from Zürich’s five-star hotels to press events. And ahead of the nightly screenings, bright stage lights set the scene for the iconic green carpet where cast members and VIP guests walk past.

This year, Sharon Stone will be accepting the Golden Icon Award in person. The ceremony will be followed by a screening of Martin Scorsese's Casino, for which Stone was nominated for an Academy Award. In addition, the actress will be hosting a masterclass in which she is going to share insights into her creative process and career.

James Bond - No Time to Die

European premiere, Sept 28, 2021

Our favorite British agent has many ties to Switzerland. In his escapades, Swiss places such as Geneva, Ticino, or the Bernese Alps have already appeared.

And on September 28, Zurich got onto the list of Bond appearances in Switzerland: the much-anticipated James Bond flick, No Time to Die, was screened during the Zurich Film Festival. The organizers have landed quite a coup as the initial screening on Sept 28 coincided with the European premiere in London.


Now, with all those mask-wearers glued to Zurich’s largest screen at the Zurich Convention Center, it will be hard to tell whether one of them is the infamous agent himself: James Bond. 

The 163-minute James Bond movie, No Time to Die, is I can hardly wait to mind-travel to Jamaica where Bond supposedly is enjoying his retirement. There, Bond is approached with a new mission which will likely take us on a 2:34 hrs whirlwind adventure around the globe…

The French Dispatch

Oct 3, 2021

The latest film by Wes Anderson, called The French Dispatch, is naturally set in a fictional French town in the 20th century. As a big fan of Wes Anderson, I not only religiously follow the hashtag #AccidentallyWesAnderson on Instagram. I am also one to count down the days until the premiere of his new films.

Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Needless to say, I am thrilled that The French Dispatch will be screened at the Zurich Film Festival. While this will be the premiere in a German-speaking country, it will also be the closing film for the 17th edition of the festival.

The French Dispatch features a stellar ensemble of stars and high-profile actors: Benicio del Toro, Elisabeth Moss, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Christoph Waltz, and Willem Dafoe, among others. Who might be walking the green carpet on 

A hashtag with desire: #letSEXplore

Special selection

Every year, the Zurich Film Festival curates a selection of features about a contemporary topic. By assigning a hashtag, the festival bundles this selection of movies and documentaries, meanwhile exposing us to interesting topics we might have otherwise ignored.

Let’s talk about sex, a topic that is verboten in many societies despite being the most fundamental instinct on the planet. While talking about it is largely taboo, it is no understatement to declare sex something of an obsession in our society.

Current issues seem to revolve around our relationship with sex in a post #MeToo era. And with this being the Zurich Film Festival, the selection of movies under the #letSEXplore hashtag explores how contemporary cinema handles sexual content: is it becoming normalcy, leveling out the often male-dominated perspective of the past?

Among the five feature films and three documentaries, look out for these highlights:

  • In Death of a Virgin and the Sin of Not Living, three young lads set out to have their first encounter with a sex worker. The film deconstructs gender norms whereas homosexual characters are no longer defined by their sexuality, and categories are becoming more fluid.
  • Les Olympiades, Paris 13e follows young people in Paris's 13th district as they experiment with new forms of friendship and sexuality, as well as openly practicing same-sex love.
  • In the documentary A Sexplanation, the filmmaker confronts researchers, friends, and family with every sex taboo out there. The premise is that this 36-year-old American wants to challenge his American sex education by "uncovering naked truths and hard facts."
A Sexplanation Cinema Hall
Copyright Herra Productions

More information and tickets. Please note that a valid Covid certificate along with photo identification is required in order to access the festival and its screenings.

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

Dimitri Burkhard

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