The Catalonian producer and director Luis Miñarro is considered one of the foremost proponents of Spanish auteur cinema. Like no other he especially defends the visual aspect of cinema. "It's totally ok that many people consider cinema as mere entertainment. For me, however, it is primarily art," Miñarro remarked in an interview with a Spanish film magazine. He has produced over 30 films with his production company, Eddie Saeta, founded in 1989, including festival favorites such as FINISTERRAE and LA MOSQUITERA. He was honored at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 with the Palme d'Or for the international co-production UNCLE BOONMEE WHO. Four years later, he completed his first feature film as a director with Stella Cadente. The film was received with two Gaudi Awards. The latest news was not a film announcement rather the headlines were about the closure of his production company. Despite its impressive filmography and international recognition, the producer had difficulties convincing both critics and backers, especially in his homebase, of his radically unconventional projects. But Miñarro has plans of retiring from filmmaking. His second directorial effort SALOME will shake up international film festivals in 2016.
Vincent Maraval's filmography as a producer reads like an outline of the most important arthouse films of the 2000s. As co-founder of Wild Bunch, a distribution and world sales company committed to the promotion of arthouse cinema, his roles include producer, co-producer and executive producer on a number of international productions. The Frenchman supported the artistic vision of great directors like Gaspar Noé, Ken Loach, Jean-Luc Godard, Abdellatif Kechiche, Nicolas Winding Refn, Claire Denis, Guillaume Canet, Vincenzo Natali, Cristian Mungiu, James Marsh, Stephen Frears, Abel Ferrara, Woody Allen , Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh, Fernando Meirelles, Peter Sollett and Larry Clark. Prior to joining Wild Bunch Maraval worked for TF1 and StudioCanal.
Werner Herzog considers him one of his favorites, Michael Haneke values his radicalism, countless young filmmakers are influenced by his visual language: We are talking about Ulrich Seidl, one of Austria’s most important filmmakers. Exploring the fine line between fiction and documentary, his film projects are fascinating and unsettling, seemingly far from reality yet disturbingly close to it. His body of works includes such award-winning films as TIERISCHE LIEBE, MODELS, and HUNDSTAGE. Seidl caused a sensation last year with his PARADIES trilogy, which won prizes at various festivals. PARADIES: GLAUBE was even honored with the prestigious Jury Award at Venice Film Festival. At the ZFF MASTERS, Ulrich Seidl offers us insight into his work: What fascinates him about the blending of documentary and fiction? How does he get to know his film’s protagonists?
Ten years ago, Fatih Akin celebrated his powerful breakthrough with GEGEN DIE WAND. The compelling love story impressed both critics and audiences with the self-destructive drive of its protagonists and their strained Turkish-German identity. GEGEN DIE WAND was honored with multiple awards, among them the Golden Bear and the European Film Award, but it is only one of Akin’s many brilliant cinematic works. His first feature film, KURZ UND SCHMERZLOS, a harsh crime drama set in the director’s native quarter Hamburg-Altona won the Bavarian Film Award “Best New Director”. Love and homeland, Hamburg and Istanbul, great hopes and crazy ideas – these are the themes of almost all his films. But Akin is well versed in balancing sternness and gaiety, darkness and light. So his œuvre includes both melodramas – like the trilogy about “Love, Death, and the Devil”, whose second part AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE won the “Best Screen- play” award in Cannes – and light-hearted films: IM JULI is a sunny road movie, SOLINO an affectionate family chronicle, and SOUL KITCHEN a heart-warming comedy. Besides his work as a director, Akin also successfully participates in the German film scene as a screenwriter (KEBAB CONNECTION), producer (CHIKO), and actor (KISMET). After five years, Akin finally presents the last part of his trilogy: THE CUT will be screened at this year’s Zurich Film Festival.
Susanne Bier is one of the most accomplished Euro- pean filmmakers of our time. The Danish screenwriter and director is responsible for such internationally successful films as EFTER BRYLLUPPET (AFTER THE WEDDING) and BRØDRE (BROTHERS), a gripping depiction of a conflict among brothers amidst the emotional turmoil of the Afghan war. Due to its enormous success, the film was remade in Hollywood in 2009, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Natalie Portman. Bier realized her first US film in 2007 with THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE, a melodrama revolving around a family trying to cope with the loss of husband and father.Her family drama HÆVNEN (IN A BETTER WORLD) garnered the Academy Award® for “Best Foreign Language Film”, compellingly depicting a family’s coming to terms with the oppositional worlds of Europe and Africa as well as child and adulthood, and the straining dichotomy of revenge and forgiveness. At the ZFF MASTERS, Susanne Bier offers insight into her work as a filmmaker. What hurdles did she have to overcome to take a foothold in the male-dominated film indus- try? And what challenges face European film workers in Hollywood?
Nadav Schirman is not only one of Israel’s most promising documentary filmmakers; the Frankfurt-based director and producer has a keen instinct for how to wrap a documentary as a dramatic thriller. His first feature documentary THE CHAMPAGNE SPY – centering on a son who discovers his father is a Mossad Agent – won the Israeli Academy Award for“BestDocumentary”. In 2013, he again explored family relations under pressure when shooting IN THE DARK ROOM, a film about the wife and daughter of terrorist “Carlos the Jackal”. Schirman’s latest coup, THE GREEN PRINCE marks the current high point of his career: The Israeli producer-director not only pushed the boundaries of the documentary genre by shaping a highly emotional and compelling thriller; he also crafted an intensely suspenseful and emotionally gripping narrative that was rightly honored with various awards, including the Audience Award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Due to the success of the documentary, a feature film based on THE GREEN PRINCE is currently in the making.
Stefan Arndt was born in Munich, Germany in 1961. Throughout his career he has produced over 20 films, most of which received international releases and worldwide critical acclaim. Together with directors Tom Tykwer, Wolfgang Becker, and Dani Levy, he founded the production company X Filme Creative Pool in 1994. Four years later, he celebrated his international break- through with Tom Tykwer’s LOLA RENNT. Many sucessful productions have followed, which earned him a total of 11 German Film Awards, 10 European Film Awards, 2 Golden Globes®, and most recently an Academy Award® and the Palm D’Or for AMOUR. For 20 years, Arndt has mastered the balancing act of producing sophisticated films which nevertheless appeal to wide audiences. With THE CLOUD ATLAS he realized the most expensive German film to date, but he still remains a supporter of young German film- makers and established directors of the European art house scene. As producer, distributor (X Verleih AG), and one of the founding fathers of the German Film Academy, he has established himself as a distinctive figure in German film industry.
L.A. based producer Donald De Line scored his first major hit with the 2003 heist thriller THE ITALIAN JOB. De Line’s continued success includes Ridley Scott’s BODY OF LIES and John Hamburg’s I LOVE YOU MAN. In addition to his producing career, De Line has held positions as a studio executive, serving as President and Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, and President of Touchstone Pictures. Among the films under his aegis were PRETTY WOMAN, Wes Anderson’s RUSHMORE, Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, and the blockbuster ARMAGEDDON. De Line believes in hard work and the power of keeping oneself well- informed about everything going on in film business. His career proves this philosophy is a key to success.
Born in Germany and raised in Switzerland, Marc Forster is one of the most successful and versatile directors worldwide. After finishing NYU Film School and moving to Los Angeles in his early years, he shot his first masterpiece EVERYTHING PUT TOGETHER, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Forster’s filmmaking style was clearly evident in this searing psychological drama, which he also co-wrote. In the very same year, Forster won the Someone to Watch Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. His break through film, MONSTER'S BALL, was a critical and commercial success and received two Oscar nominations with Halle Berry winning for Best Actress. More great projects followed, such as STAY, STRANGER THAN FICTION, THE KITE RUNNER and FINDING NEVERLAND. The latter masterpiece was nominated for seven Oscars. Forster has worked with countless Hollywood stars including Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Dustin Hoffman. In 2008, Mr. Forster was asked to direct the James Bond Franchise’s QUANTUM OF SOLACE. The highly gifted director also triumphed with his latest coup; WORLD WAR Z has grossed more than 500 million dollars worldwide to date.
Tim Bevan was born in Queenstown, New Zealand in 1958 and was raised in the south of England. He is one of the most well-known international film producers. In the early 1980’s, alongside Sarah Radclyffe, he created the production company Working Title Films. They achieved many successes early on, leading to the company now being an essential part of Universal Pictures. Bevan himself speaks about his films having a certain “Britishness”. It is exactly this Britishness that seems to be his recipe for success: Bevan produced films such as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, LES MISÉRABLES, ABOUT A BOY, ATONEMENT and ELIZABETH. For the latter two he was nominated for an Oscar. The remarkable producer remains humble despite all this success: “Ultimately, films are a director’s medium – I merely create the right environment for them to do the best job they can”. At the ZFF MASTERS, Tim Bevan will speak about his work as a producer. What exactly is this “Britishness” that makes his films so successful? What important qualities must a producer possess and why must a producer have knowledge in finance?
At only 29 years old Indian native Guneet Monga has already achieved widespread success. Her first big international film was the Academy Award nominated short KAVI in 2009. In 2013 The Hollywood Reporter voted ‘New Wave’ producer Monga one of the top twelve women achievers in the Global Entertainment Industry. She has paved the way for Indian cinema globally with her films premiering at prestigious festivals like Cannes, Sundance and Toronto. Two of her films, THE LUNCHBOX and MONSOON SHOUTOUT, were selected for screenings at the Cannes Film Festival in May of this year. During her ZFF MASTER CLASS Guneet Monga will talk about her occupation as a producer, as well as insight into the Indian film industry: How involved is she as a producer in the creative part of filmmaking? What are the cultural challenges in making Indian films? What are the difficulties of financing a film in India that is outside the Bollywood genre? How important are personal relationships in the industry in India and what are the differences to Hollywood? Guneet Monga will also analyze some clips from her film THE LUNCHBOX.
Born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, David Flynn began his film career working as a production assistant on BRAVEHEART (1995). He was a founding partner in the LA-based management/production company, Chaos Management, producing SERAPHIM FALLS (2006), starring Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson. Flynn’s other credit’s as producer include Rodrigo Cortés’ BURIED (2010) starring Ryan Reynolds and the critically acclaimed documentary RESTREPO (2010), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Flynn currently works as an agent representing filmmakers, writers and producers, and he currently represents the Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, director of SAFE HOUSE (2012), who will also be appearing at the festival. In the ZURICH MASTER CLASS we want to get an insight into Flynn‘s work as an agent. To what extent does he foster the careers of directors and other filmmakers? How can agents assist and support directors’ careers?
Jerry Weintraub is one of the last Hollywood legends, although his career actually began in music. As one of the biggest concert promoters of the 70s, Weintraub worked with such luminaries as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan. Conveniently – given his musical upbringing – Jerry’s first hit as a film producer was with 1975’s country and gospel music themed, NASHVILLE, directed by Robert Altman. With his next film as producer, DINER (1982), Weintraub helped launch the careers of a new generation of acting talent, including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and Ellen Barkin. Some of Weintraub’s most commercially successful films include the original version of THE KARATE KID (1984) and the OCEAN’S trilogy (2001/2004/2007), directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. His future projects include a film about the life of notoriously flamboyant pianist Liberace, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and a planned Hugh Hefner biopic, written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland.)
Born in France and raised in the United States, Frank Darabont became involved in filmmaking at the age of 20, making his feature length directorial debut withTV movie, BURIED ALIVE (1990).
Darabont is arguably best known as director of prison drama THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, and based on a short story by Stephen King. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Film and for Darabont’s Adapted Screenplay.
Darabont’s relationship with King’s work continued with adaptations of his novel THE GREEN MILE (1999), which he scripted, directed and produced, and his novella THE MIST (2007).
He was also the executive producer of the first series of zombie drama series THE WALKING DEAD (2010), for which he directed the pilot episode, and L.A. NOIR (2013), a new series for TNT.
Frank Darabont will talk about his work as an author, director and producer; the topics interest him and how he chooses his projects. We want to know what fascinates him about writing, about cinema, TV and films in general.
Born in Germany, Tom Tykwer began making his own amateur Super 8 films at the age of 11. At 22, out of love for film he chose to become the programmer of Berlin’s Moviemento cinema. His short film BECAUSE (1990) was well received at the Hof Film Festival and inspired him to continue with filmmaking. In 1994, Tykwer founded the production company X Filme Creative Pool with Stefan Arndt, Wolfgang Becker and Dani Levy. Although his second feature WINTER SLEEPERS (1997) brought him to the attention of German cinemagoers and critics, it was the Bafta nominated RUN LOLA RUN (1998) that received international recognition. Tykwer’s success continued with THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR (2000), HEAVEN (2002), his ten-minute contribution to PARIS JE T’AIME (2006) and the acclaimed version of Patrick Süsskind’s novel, PERFUME (2006). Tykwer made his Hollywood debut with THE INTERNATIONAL (2009), a thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. He also realized an adaptation of David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS, co-directed with The Matrix Trilogy directors Lana and Andy Wachowski. In the Public ZFF MASTER CLASS we discussed the visual aesthetic of his films and the importance of music, as he is also a composer. In addition, he also talked about how he chooses his projects, about his style, his work relationships, and the direction he sees for the future of the cinema.
The UK documentary film producer John Battsek’s breakthrough came with ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in 2000. Battsek’s more recent works tackle issues relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the executive producer of RESTREPO, which was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Film, and won the Sundance Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. Battsek was the executive producer of BETTER THIS WORLD, which enjoyed a Special Screening at the 2011 Zurich Film Festival.
Janine Jackowski founded the Komplizen Film production company together with Maren Ade in 1999. In 2003, Jackowski produced Maren Ade’s diploma film DER WALD VOR LAUTER BÄUMEN, which won the 2005 Sundance Film Festival’s Jury Prize. 2009 saw the Komplizen Film production ALLE ANDEREN, Maren Ade’s second feature, scoop up two Silver Bears at the Berlinale. Ulrich Köhler’s SCHLAFKRANKHEIT, another Komplizen Film production, won the Silver Bear for best director at the 2011 Berlinale.
Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Award winner Christine Vachon founded the short film production company Apparatus together with Todd Haynes and Barry Ellsworth in 1987. In 1991, she produced Todd Haynes’ feature debut POISON, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. Her New York independent production company Killer Films, which she founded together with Pamela Koffler in 1995, has released over 45 films including SAFE, KIDS, the Academy Award winning film BOYS DON’T CRY, FAR FROM HEAVEN and I’M NOT THERE, which won an award at Venice Film Festival. In 2011, Killer Films produced HBO’s five-part mini series MILDRED PIERCE, which was directed by Todd Haynes and nominated for an incredible 21 Emmys. 2015, they also produced Todd Haynes marvelous drama CAROL.
Haggis’ Public ZFF Masters offered an insight into the multifaceted work of the Canadian screenwriter and director, who was not only involved in Oscar-winning productions such as MILLION DOLLAR BABY and CRASH, but also wrote the screenplays for the latest James Bond films CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Haggis began his career working on various TV formats, including the successful ABC series thirtysomething. How did he make the jump from writing TV series to the big screen? And how does he manage to combine his double role as a screenwriter and director with such success?
Qualified political scientist Charles Ferguson received an Oscar in 2011 for his controversial documentary film INSIDE JOB, which analyses the 2008 economic crisis. He also received a nomination three years previously for his first documentary film NO END IN SIGHT, which highlights the situation in Iraq after America’s invasion in 2003. Ferguson also worked on a project about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.