Born 1933 in Paris to Polish parents, the director Roman Polanski is considered one of the most unconventional filmmakers of our time. He celebrated his exhilarating cinema debut with KNIFE IN THE WATER in 1962. Polanski’s most famous works include the comedy THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967), the soon to become cult film psycho-thriller ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) and CHINATOWN (1974), which is now regarded as a milestone of the Film Noir genre.

His semi-biographical Holocaust drama THE PIANIST did not only triumph with the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2002, but also received the Oscar for Best Director in 2003.




In 1969, Terry Gilliam became known as the only American member of the much-loved television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Together with Terry Jones, he co-directed his first feature film MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAILin 1975. He went on to direct the films TIME BANDITS, MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE and BRAZIL with Robert de Niro, for which he also received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. THEFISHER KINGfollowed in 1991 and brought Gilliam a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. Subsequent to his depiction of an unsettling futuristic scenario in TWELVE MONKEYS (1995), he adapted Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Gilliam held a Master Class prior to presenting his latest film THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUSwith Heath Ledger, Jude Law and Johnny Depp at the Zurich Film Festival.



Niki Reiser was born 1958 in Aargau. He studied classical music in Basel and majored in film music while studying jazz & classical music in Boston. He became acquainted with director Dany Levy in 1986 and wrote the music for his first film DU MICH AUCH. His international breakthrough came with the film music for Caroline Link’s JENSEITS DER STILLE (1996). He has since composed music for numerous films including NIRGENDWO IN AFRIKA (2001), HEIDI (2001), DAS FLIEGENDE KLASSENZIMMER (2003), DIE WEISSE MASSAI (2005), IM WINTER EIN JAHRE (2008) and MARIA, IHM SCHMECKTS NICHT (2009). As yet, Reiser is five-times-winner of the German Film Award.



Born 1961 in Austria, director and screenplay writer Erwin Wagenhofer uses his films to highlight the world’s grievances. The German Documentary Film Award-winning and FIPRESCI Award-winning WE FEED THE WORLD deals with the excesses of worldwide food production and international agricultural policy. A graduate of the Austrian Institute of Technology, Wagenhofer created impressive imagery to portray the abstract flow of money in the global financial system in LET’S MAKE MONEY (2008). Wagenhofer worked on the screenplay for his drama BLACK – BROWN – WHITE, which tells the story of the impossible love between an Austrian trucker and an illegal African immigrant.



Born in 1952, the US American Dale Launer is a director, producer and one of Hollywood’s best-paid screenwriters. He first attracted world attention to his comedic talent with his screenplay for the film RUTHLESS PEOPLE(1986). He celebrated his own directing debut in 1992 with the romantic comedy LOVE POTION NO 9. He also wrote and co-produced the witty courtroom comedyMY COUSIN VINNY, which brought Marisa Tomei an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Following a long break, Launer directed, produced and wrote the screenplay for TOM’S NU HEAVEN.



US-American actor Michael Keaton was born 1951 in Pennsylvania. He came to the world’s attention with his embodiment of Batman/Bruce Wayne in BATMAN (1989) alongside “Joker” Jack Nicholson. In 1992, the celebrated actor donned the batsuit for a second time in Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS. He performed in a broad spectrum of genres during the 90s: the film adaptation of Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993), Ron Howard’s comedy THE PAPER(1994)and as Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino’s cult film JACKIE BROWN(1997). The Golden Globe nominated actor came to Zurich in a new role, namely as a director, with the director’s cut of his debut film THE MERRY GENTLEMEN (2008), which celebrated its world premiere at the festival.



Kleiser, born 1946 in Philadelphia, studied at the University of Southern California and received international recognition through the most successful musical film of all time:GREASE(1978). This was followed by such films as THE BLUE LAGOON, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KIDSand the film adaptation of Jack London’s novel WHITE FANG. Of particular personal significance was his AIDS themed film drama IT’S MY PARTY. He won an Emmy Award for his TV film THE GATHERING in 1977.





Morgan Freeman’s talent and versatility as an actor finds appreciation wherever he appears on screen. He has received four Oscar nominations and won the award in 2005 for MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

Morgan Freeman can indeed look back on an extraordinary career, characterised as much by passion and discipline as by integrity and style. Clint Eastwood once called him „the world’s greatest actor“.


How does he maintain this performance diversity and continually find new potential? And what attracted him to directing and producing in the 90’s? These were just some of the questions he clarified in our first public master class.



The Oscar nominated Swiss documentary filmmaker Christian Frei (WAR PHOTOGRAPHER, THE GIANT BUDDHAS) celebrates the world premiere of his latest film at the Zurich Film Festival; SPACE TOURISTS is a documentary about and an American space tourist and Kazakh rocket debris collectors. For 20 million dollars, the American Anousheh Ansari realised her childhood dream: to travel into outer space. The film accompanies her on her trip in space and shows everyday life as it is on an international space station.


Following the film’s presentation, Frei gave a comprehensive workshop talk on the initial idea, his meticulous research and the obstacles and challenges he encountered during the more than two years it took to film.

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