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Zurich Film Festival will offer a Costa-Gavras retrospective

It was announced today that the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) will present Oscar® winner Constantin Costa-Gavras with the Festival’s prestigious Golden Eye Award for his life work as a director, scriptwriter and producer. The announcement was made today by ZFF Director Karl Spoerri.

Costa-Gavras will be the guest of honour for the Festival’s tribute (presented as Zurich Film Festival’s “A Tribute to”) and award ceremony on the evening of Friday, October 4. The Festival has also programmed a special retrospective celebrating Costa-Gavras’s life’s work, which will take place at the Cinema Corso on Saturday, October 5, 2008.

One of the most renowned exponents of politically committed film, Costa-Gavras has had an incomparable influence on young filmmakers around the world. Based in Paris and of Greek origin, the iconic filmmaker will personally be on hand to accept the Golden Eye Award.

Prior to the ceremony, Costa-Gavras will participate in a Zurich Master Class workshop and talk of his directing experiences with such notable films as “Z”, “Missing” and “Betrayed” and of political cinema in general. Invited for this exclusive talent workshop are the 25 participants of this year’s Zurich Master Class and the international and Swiss shooting stars of the European Film Promotion.

Born in 1933 in Greece, director Constantin Costa-Gavras celebrated, after having finished his film studies in Paris in 1965, his directing debut with “Compartiment tueurs,” a thriller based on the novel by Sébastien Japrisot. Amongst his most renowned films are the political thriller “Z”, which was awarded an Oscar® in 1969 for Best Foreign Film and leveraged his international career; “Betrayed” starring Debra Winger and Tom Berenger; and “Mad City” starring John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman. For “Music Box”, starring Armin Mueller-Stahl and Jessica Lange, he was awarded the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for Best Film in 1990. In 2002, Costa-Gavras adapted Rolf Hochhuth’s theatrical play “Der Stellvertreter” for the screen, starring Ulrich Tukur and Ulrich Mühe. His most recent project “Eden is West”, a film about illegal immigrants in Europe, will enter theatres in 2009. Costa-Gavras’ usually depicts a society which is formed by political drawbacks and which the director tries to uncover. While doing this, he avoids referring openly to the respective country. Through this anonymisation, his social criticism obtains a universal force of expression.

Past recipients of the Zurich Film Festival’s tribute award include three time Academy Award® winner Oliver Stone (“Platoon”, “Born on the 4th of July”) and Academy Award® nominee director Stephen Frears (“My Beautiful Laundrette”, The Grifters”, “The Queen”).

The retrospective of selected films by Costa-Gavras at this year’s Festival will include:

“Z” (1969):
A young judge and an ambitious journalist get suspicious when in a sham democracy the charismatic leader of a left-wing opposition group is beaten to death at a demonstration for peace and the Police speak of a traffic accident. They see through the game of a conspiracy which leads to highest ranks of the ruling Junta. But the rulers have more pull. A classic among the politically committed cinema, awarded two Oscars ® in 1970.

“The Confession” (1970):
Using the memoirs of Czechoslovakian communist Artur London, Costa-Gavras tells the story of Anton Ludviks, vice foreign minister in a communist dictatorship in 1951. During the Stalinist cleansings Ludvik gets into the wheelwork of denunciation and retaliation, is taken into custody and being tortured. He is accused of conspiracy against the regime. A haunting study of the impact of political state terror within the realm of Stalinist power structures.

“Missing” (1982):
“Missing”, which is based on a true case, is the story of conservative American businessman Ed Horman, a fervent patriot. In search of his son, who went missing during a military coup, he travels to South America. In Chile, Ed aligns with his daughter in law. They find out that the American government is involved in the upheaval. But for the son, any assistance arrived too late. Eds future claim against Henry Kissinger is being rejected.

“Betrayed” (1987):
After the brutal murder of a controversial Jewish radio presenter, undercover agent Cathy Weaver settles in with the main suspect, a farmer who is suspected to be a member of a racist organisation. She is attracted to the handsome widower and is convinced of his innocence – until she discovers a terrible secret and has to decide between love and duty.

“Music Box” (1989):
Hungarian immigrant Michael Laszlo is very well integrated in the US and a good American. However, after 37 years some documents emerge which incriminate him heavily and identify him as a war criminal. His daughter, successful lawyer Ann Talbot, is convinced of his innocence and decides to represent her father in court. The mélange of political thriller and family drama has been awarded the Golden Bear of the Berlin International Film Festival in 1990.

“Amen” (2002):
In captured Poland, SS officer Kurt Gerstein witnesses how countless Jews are being murdered in the gas chamber. Since his hands are tied he tries to get Western diplomats and the Catholic Church to take action. In Italy, young Jesuit priest Ricardo Fontana offers him support. Adaptation of the play “Der Stellvertreter” by Rolf Hochmuth, which doesn’t focus on the controversial role of the Holy See at the time, but rather on the fight against Nazi murdering.

Further information on the “A Tribute to” series and the 4th Zurich Film Festival can be found at


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