International Kurzfilmtage Winterthur
© Janis Huber / IKFTWInternational Kurzfilmtage Winterthur

Five of the best film festivals

Every autumn, stars and audiences align around Switzerland for a bumper crop of movie festivals. We check out the line-ups, premieres and offbeat goings-on to watch out for


For star spotters
Zurich Film Festival
Perhaps the glitziest of the autumn fests, the Zurich cine event’s 14th edition will see a lifetime achievement award presented to veteran star Donald Sutherland and a tribute prize go to German film legend Wim Wenders. Other names dropping by are set to include Viggo Mortensen and director Peter Farrelly (‘There’s Something About Mary’), whose new movie ‘Green Book’, a 1960s-set drama about a black pianist and his Italian-American bouncer/driver touring the American South, opens proceedings. With 12 filmmakers competing for this year’s main Golden Eye Award and a line-up of gala premieres that features actor Bradley Cooper’s Lady Gaga-starring directorial debut ‘A Star Is Born’ and Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ follow-up ‘First Man’, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on.
Sep 27-Oct 7.

Ryan Gosling in First Man, one of the highlights of the Zurich Film Festival

For artistic outliers
Lausanne Undergound Film and Music Festival
Don’t expect fluffy romcoms or glossy actioners to munch popcorn along with here. As the name suggests, the LUFF focuses on digging out the little-known film works and music acts that fly under the radar of mainstream culture and bringing them to a wider audience. Trotskyists cells, home-made instruments, noise-making workshops for children (do they really need help there?), a movie called Kakabakabaa, a Filipino guerrilla filmmaking masterclass, a guy who practises ‘auscultation of unstable sound phenomena’… It’s all here, plus a host of other stuff we only half understand but really like the sound of.
Oct 17-21.

Kakabakaba at the Lausanne Undergound Film and Music Festival

For digital devotees
Geneva International Film Festival
Since its first edition in 1995, the GIFF has always delved a little deeper than your average festival, exploring not just cinema but the TV and digital realms, too. The focus of the main competition is innovative new cinema, while a Highlights sidebar features Swiss premieres of some of the year’s best arthouse films. One of the first festivals to explore both the explosion of fresh TV works (it’s showcased series such as ‘The Night Of’ and ‘The Deuce’ in the past) and virtual and augmented reality pieces, the GIFF's television and immersive works competitions are also sure to be worth a look. Full programme announced October 9.
Nov 2-10.

For short attention spans
International Kurzfilmtage Winterthur
British cinema, Georgian filmmaking, Canadian artist Mike Hoolboom, Ingmar Bergman and Disney’s ‘Silly Symphonies’ series all get a look in at this year’s Kurzfilmtage. Begun by a group of movie fans in 1997, it’s now grown to become Switzerland’s biggest and best short film fest, offering a carefully curated line-up of both new and old movies in its main international and Swiss competitions and numerous sidebars. Well worth the trek to Winterthur for.
Nov 6-11.

Catch ruthless character study Sauvage at Queersicht

For an alternative view
Based in Bern, Switzerland’s oldest LGBT+ film festival has been screening the best queer cinema unable to find its way into the mainstream for the last 22 years. The line-up includes both fiction and documentary works with this year's highlights including Yann Gonzalez’s ‘Knife + Heart’, a Brian de Palma-style plunge into the gay porn world of 1970s Paris, and Sauvage, a ruthless character study of a 22-year-old hustler. A panel discussion will include three female directors debating the role of women in contemporary filmmaking. Check out the website for more details from the beginning of October. 
Nov 8-14.

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