Luis Miñarro

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

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.

Ulrich Seidl

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? 

Fatih Akin

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

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

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

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.