October 25, 2021


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ZFF Academy: ‘School Trip’ for New Filmmaking Talent

2 min read

Talk to the people behind ZFF Academy and it quickly becomes clear that this Zurich Film Festival talent program is close to their hearts.

Launched in 2006, exactly one year after the festival, ZFF Academy aims to increase exchanges between notable filmmakers and aspiring directors, writers and producers. It is there to help creatives and executives to learn from film industry experts, connect with each other and exchange ideas.

In many ways, it’s like a well-known Berlinale talent program কেবল just closer. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 19 talents নয় nine women and 10 men নির্বাচিত were selected to take part in the five-day initiative in Zurich.

The talent tradition around the world is themed at ZFF academies, but this year the team mainly reflects the travel problems of many people due to the European-Covid-1 restrictions.

Reta Guetag, head of the ZFF industry, said the strategy has long been to keep the academy small and select so that the talented get the most out of it. “It’s like going on a school trip for a week, and then you’re the best friend when you get back.”

Guettag said the academy has encouraged collaboration with many film industries, citing a Spanish distribution executive who met with a German filmmaker while in Zurich. Another German filmmaker, both alumni of the academy, formed a company together, while an Italian writer collaborated with a Greek director that he learned about in the program. Previous alumni include Lisa Bruhlmann (“Blue My Mind”), Pierre Monard (“Needle Park Baby”) and Jonas Carpigano (“A Simbra”).

The five-day program includes masterclasses, art discussions, case-studies and dinners, which run from Wednesday.

To help build strong relationships during the academy, each of the 19 filmmakers must participate in the entire program instead of diving into sessions and going out.

MasterClass is at the center of the program, said Daniela Engler, project manager at ZFF Academy. This year they are being offered by a number of high-profile filmmakers present at the festival, including directors Paolo Sorrentino, Eskil Vogt, Ninja Thiberg, Ada Solomon, Asif Kapadia, Paul Schrader and Ulysses Porra and Sylvina Shanisar. “Each of them is in a small room together [with the talents], And it’s a really intimate discussion, ”Engler says.

The Beats and Pieces section, meanwhile, allows 19 talents to present parts of their current projects on the big screen in front of their colleagues and industry representatives, who then provide feedback and advice.

Then there is the session “Finding Your Audience – Story Lab joins ZFF Academy”, which focuses on how to draw attention to projects and films. The development phase will start with a special masterclass event related to film marketing, followed by the “ZFF Elevator Pitch” – where participants will have to pitch their projects during a real lift ride.

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