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?
Having grown up in West Africa, French director Claire Denis has always grappled with subjects like identity and the transgression of social and cultural bound- aries. After studying at today’s La Fémis in Paris, she worked as an assistant director to Jacques Rivette, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and others. She made her directorial debut in 1988 with CHOCOLAT, a quiet and sensible examination of (post-)colonial racial tensions in Cameroon. The solidarity with margin- dwellers and reflections on the social exclusion of the “other” have marked her following eleven feature films as well. In 1996, Denis received the Golden Leopard in Locarno for NÉNETTE ET BONI. Her film BEAU TRAVAIL three years later, the fourth collaboration with cinematog- rapher Agnès Godard, further reinforced her international acclaim. With works like the body horror film TROUBLE EVERY DAY as well as the dramas 35 RHUMS, WHITE MATERIAL, and LES SALAUDS, Claire Denis has established herself as one of the most important con- temporary filmmakers.
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.
This Austrian director/screenwriter was born in 1942. After his studies in Vienna he started working for the Südwestfunk (ARD) and since 1970, Haneke has been a freelance director and screenwriter and is responsible for some of the most well-known and successful films of the last 20 years. He has won numerous awards for his work, including one Oscar. In 2001, he received the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes for LA PIANISTE (among many other European and International awards). The thriller CACHÉ with Juliette Binoche was honored with prizes such as Critics Prize in Cannes 2003, Director’s Prize and the Ecumenical Jury Prize as well as Best European Film and Best European Director at the European Film Awards in Berlin 2005. More of Haneke’s works include DAS WEISSE BAND (Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film & Goldene Palme in Cannes), WOLFZEIT, FUNNY GAMES, DER SIEBENTE KONTINENT and CODE - UNBEKANNT. In 2010, Haneke thrilled the world with his cinematic masterpiece AMOUR, a touching film about love and death with the sublime actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant. AMOUR received countless awards: Goldene Palme in Cannes 2012, Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, César for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Film Award at the New York Film Critic’s Awards, to only name a few.
Asghar Farhadi was born in 1972 in the province of Isfahan in Iran, making his first 8mm and 16mm films as a teenager. His debut film, DANCING IN THE DUST – Raghs is ghobar (2003), won the Moscow International Film Festival Film Critic Award. Farhadi’s following film, THE BEAUTIFUL CITY - Shahr-e ziba (2004) was awarded Best Film at the Warsaw Film Festival, International Film Festival of India and Moscow’s Faces of Love Film Festival. His breakthrough came with ALL ABOUT ELLY - Darbareh-ye Elly (2009), for which he won a Silver Bear for Best Director. Farhadi’s most recent film A SEPARATION - Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (2011), won a Golden Bear for Best Film, a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. In the Public ZURICH MASTER CLASS, Asghar Farhadi will talk about his work as an author, director and producer and the topics that interest and fascinate him. He will discuss the difficulties he has overcome to make his films in Iran. He will also tell us about his intentions behind his films and the picture he wants to paint of Iran, to those inside and outside of the country. How do his films foster the cross-cultural dialogue between West and East?
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 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.