Ruth Toma

Ruth Toma was born in 1956 in Lower Bavaria. After state exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich she started off as an actress and author in the independent theater group "Temporary Structures" and was active for nine years. Then she attended top postgraduate courses in film at the University of Hamburg where she graduated with honors. Many of her screenplays developed into successful film, including A SONG OF LOVE AND DEATH - GLOOMY SUNDAY, SOLINO, PEAS AT FIVE-THIRTY, EMMAS GLÜCK, SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT, 3096 Days, THE CHEF and television films ROMEO and THE LOST BROTHER. Ruth Toma is one of the most important German writers. Her scripts have won many awards, among them the German Screenplay Award, the Writer's Award of the Cologne Conference, the German Television Award, the Bavarian Film Award and the Adolf Grimme Prize.

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer is one of the most innovative, creative and celebrated film music composers of our time. With his fusion of the ordinary and the extraordinary, traditional instruments and synthesized sounds, the simple with the complex, he has been a pioneer in exploring cinematic worlds for 30 years. German-born Zimmer celebrated his breakthrough in 1988 with the music for RAIN MAN. He has since composed the music for over 100 films, a career dotted with an Academy Award® (for THE LION KING), two Golden Globes® and three Grammys®. Always on the lookout for exceptional elements in music and fearlessly breaking musical conventions, he has advanced to become one of the most versatile film composers of his time. His best-known scores include those for AS GOOD AS IT GETS, GLADIATOR, THE DARK KNIGHT, and INCEPTION. Zimmer is currently working on Christopher Nolan’s latest film INTERSTELLAR, which will be launched this coming November. Zimmer will speak at the ZFF MASTERS about the workings of a film composer. How can you take musical inspiration from the look and theme of a film while also adding your own accents? How does music influence the world of cinema and vice versa? 

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. 

Christian Petzold

Christian Petzold has become one of the most important contemporary German directors since he graduated from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb) 20 years ago. In 2000, he made his cinematic debut with DIE INNERE SICHERHEIT, which won the German Film Award. The film was also the kick-off for his “Gespenster Trilogy”, a succession of thematically affiliated films including GESPENSTER and YELLA. The trilogy composes a spectral image of contemporary Germany that oscillates between familiarity and strangeness, personal isolation and social invisibility. In 2011, Petzold collaborated with Christoph Hochhäusler and Dominik Graf on the TV mini series DREILEBEN, which consists of three crime films revolving around the same topic and characters but realized in different auteur styles. It was honored with the German Television Award. Petzold’s most recent film, BARBARA was also a big success; for his sensitive DDR-drama he was awarded the Silver Bear for “Best Director”. Petzold prefers to work repeatedly with like-minded film art- ists. Among them are actress Nina Hoss and director Harun Farocki, who passed away in July 2014. 

Stefan Ruzowitzky

Stefan Ruzowitzky is one of Austria’s most versatile directors. After his graduation, he started working as a freelance director, writer, and editor for television, commercials, and music videos. In 1996, he ventured to write and direct his first feature film TEMPO, a coming-of-age drama, which was awarded the Max Ophüls Preis for its perceptive depiction of Vienna’s youth culture. His next feature film, DIE SIEBTELBAUERN, was also a huge success and won many international awards, among them the prize for “Best Picture” at the Inter- national Film Festival Rotterdam. With ANATOMIE and the children’s film HEXE LILLI, Ruzowitzky demonstrated once again his versatility and aptitude to direct high-quality genre films with enormous popular success. The sensitive Holocaust drama DIE FÄLSCHER was Ruzowitzky’s international breakthrough: a great hit at festivals as well as in theaters and winner of the 2008 Oscar® for “Best Foreign Language Film”. In 2012, his first American film DEAD- FALL, starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

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. 

Tom Tykwer

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.