Lips Brothers


The Lips Brothers, Moritz and Oliver, are a creative duo based in Zurich, Switzerland | Photography, Film & Art Direction

10 Must-See Movies at the Zurich Film Festival 2016


Written by Julian Burri, Moritz Lips, Oliver Lips

In an attempt to write more about films and series on this blog, what better way to start off our new topic than the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF). This year already marks the 12th edition of one of Zurich’s most glamorous and spectacular events that takes place at the end of September. The festival will officially start on Thursday September 22nd, so Moritz, myself and Julian, who will be a contributor on the topics of film and series from now on, have put together our 10 must-see movies at this year’s edition.

We are very well aware that there are a lot more amazing films that are showing at the ZFF and that’s why we’ve made a broad selection across categories such as «International Feature Film», «International Documentary Film», «Focus Switzerland, Germany, Austria» that are taking place in the official competition for a «Golden Eye Award» as well as non-competition films in the categories «Gala Premieres», «Special Screenings» and «Window: Hong Kong».

Take your time to go through the ZFF programme as there is a lot happing during those 11 festival days. Next to 172 productions from 36 countries the Zurich Film Festival also hosts the «Film Music Competition», «ZFF Masters» with Daniel Radcliff, Ewan McGregor, Woody Harrelson and Olivier Assayas and «ZFF Talks» on current topics in the fields of culture, science and politics, yet with a focus on film. Sleep will definitively be overrated during those 10 days!

On another note Moritz and I are happy to announce that we are partnering up with Swiss watch brand IWC for the film festival. We will be taking over their Instagram Stories and Snapchat account on several occasions, highlighting around the IWC Gala Night on the 24th of September. So don’t forget to follow them on @iwcwatches and @iwcwatches_ch for German language content as well as the official hashtags #LipsBrothersIWC, #ZFFinsiders and #IWCZFF for interesting interviews, behind the scenes, movie reviews and a portion of glamour.

Aquarius | Brazil

Category: International Feature Film / Competition

Direction: Kleber Mendonça Filho
Cast: Sonia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Irandhir Santos, Humberto Carrão

"Proud and beautiful sixty-year-old widow Clara lives in a sophisticated district of the Brazilian coastal town of Recife. Her flat in the «Aquarius» apartment facility has become an essential part of her life over the past decades. It is here that she has lived in wedlock, brought up her children and survived both breast cancer and her country’s eventful past. Suddenly her home is earmarked for demolition and will be replaced by a new building now that investors have snapped up all the flats. Clara, however, refuses to leave a place full of precious memories – even if this means having to deal with her family, coldblooded investors and her city’s political corruption."

What we think
The Brazilian movie premiered earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival and was well received despite political controversy. Sofia Braga's outstanding performance has been mentioned multiple times and can be expected to live up to the critics. In light of recent events in Brazil and the points previously mentioned, it stands good chances of winning the «Golden Eye Award» and is therefore definitively worth watching.

Operation Avalanche | USA

Category: International Feature Film / Competition

Direction: Matt Johnson
Cast: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles

"At the height of the Cold War in 1967, the heads of the CIA fear a Russian spy may jeopardise the first moon landing, NASA’s so-called Apollo Mission. Under the guise of documentary filmmakers, the overzealous newcomer-agents Matt and Owen infiltrate NASA’s headquarters in order to expose the mole. As the two detectives eavesdrop on secret internal calls, they make a shocking discovery – and soon come up with an ingenious plan to avert a national disaster..."

What we think
With similarities to the 2002 TV mockumentary «Dark Side of the Moon» this movie promises to have an equally entertaining and interesting approach to the famous conspiracy theories surrounding the moon landing. An independent movie that looks like a good old Cold War spy-thriller.

When Two Worlds Collide | Peru, USA, UK

Category: International Documentary Film / Competition

Direction: Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel
Cast: Alberto Pizango, Alan Garcia, Simon Huipio, Yehude Simon

"A collision of two worlds: Peru’s president, Alan García, wants to strengthen Peru’s economy and its relationship with the USA by aggressively depleting his country’s resources. A change in the law allows foreign companies to buy and economically exploit pristine conservation areas. This leaves local indigenous communities losing their homes and facing ever-increasing health risks caused by environmental pollution. One of the largest ever protests by South American natives is instigated by the charismatic Alberto Pizango. But once the natives realize they are not being heard, the situation spirals out of control. Lives are lost on both sides as anger and destruction cast a dark shadow over the scenic Peruvian paradise."

What we think
That industrialization and conservation don't go hand in hand is well known and with Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel’s directorial debut they offer another example of political greed followed by devastating consequences. With shocking imagery and an important message this is a documentary that is not only a candidate to receive a «Golden Eye Award» at the ZFF, but also one to put on your watch list!

Borderland Blues | Germany, USA

Category: Focus Switzerland, Germany, Austria / Competition

Direction: Gudrun Gruber

“Undulating the landscape of the Sonora Desert in Arizona is «The Frontier» or «La Frontera», which once was a symbol of freedom on the horizon of the American West – and also a region plagued by recurrent territorial struggles. Currently, a high steel fence stretches over several miles strictly separating the USA and Mexico into two territories. Every year, the remains of hundreds of migrants are retrieved from the area. The tense situation in Arizona’s borderland has split the locals into two groups: one demanding a more technically advanced border control system, the other requesting more humanitarian help."

What we think
In light of the 2016 presidential election the topic of this documentary proofs to be more important than ever. Far from the decision makers in Washington D.C. we think that the Austrian filmmaker Gudrun Gruber wasn’t afraid of spotlighting the migration crisis that we often only hear from in the newspaper. After all building a wall won’t be the solution.

American Honey | UK, USA

Category: Gala Premieres

Direction: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Riley Keough, Shia LaBeouf

"In a supermarket parking lot in Oklahoma, Star (18) and her two siblings rummage through bins in search of food. Star is taken by surprise, when a wild bunch of teenagers in a noisy van suddenly appears out of nowhere. One of them is Jake, who immediately starts flirting with the dreadlocked young woman. The next day, Star joins the travelling magazine sales runaways on a journey across the Midwest in a van blasting with music and a high-spirited vibe. However, Krystal, the caustic ringleader, remains unimpressed by Star and Jake’s budding romance."

What we think
WWith «American Honey» Andrea Arnold created a gripping teen road movie in the likes of «Kids» or «Spring Breakers» by Harmony Korine. With a slightly trashy touch and a story set in the south of the US it is a perfect movie for our generation. The director who is among others known for «Fish Tank» and «Wuthering Heights» (2011) won this year’s Prix de Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. An impressive achievement, too, for the leading actress and newcomer Sasha Lane.

Personal Shopper | France

Category: Gala Premieres

Direction: Olivier Assayas
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Nora Von Waldstätten

"At home in the fashion industry, Maureen knows exactly how to wear expensive clothes. She has landed herself the bizarre job of ‘personal shopper’ for an arrogant celebrity dame, trawling Paris’s most exclusive boutiques in search of a wardrobe. However, this is not Maureen’s main interest – the young American is a medium, for which being in touch with ghosts is nothing out of the ordinary. Ever since she has lost her twin brother to heart disease, she is waiting in his empty house for a sign from him. One day, however, text messages from a mysterious stranger suddenly appear on her mobile phone and Maureen is exposed to a psychic charge that she has never experienced before."

What we think
What from the title may sound like a sequel of «Confessions of a Shopaholic» is actually a ghost story taking place in the Parisian high society and fashion scene. Director Olivier Assayas who will be given the «Tribute to… Award» during the Zurich Film Festival decided to work once more with Kristen Stewart and Lars Eidinger, both of which already appeared in «Clouds of Sils Maria». It looks like we are in for an interesting and perhaps bizarre movie from one of the most distinguished directors in present-day European cinema.

SAFARI | Austria, Denmark

Category: Gala Premieres

Direction: Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Gerald Eichinger, Manuel Eichinger, Inge Ellinger, Manfred Ellinger, Dawid Gariseb

"Impalas, zebras, giraffes, gnus are only a few of the beautiful creatures which can be found in the wild African bush. A perfect place for German and Austrian tourists to vacation in and reawaken their potential primordial hunting instincts. And the perfect excuse for director Ulrich Seidl to film them and eavesdrop on their conversations after bagging their daily spoils."

What we think
In «Safari» Ulrich Seidl, who is known for his «Paradise»-Trilogy, portrays German and Austrian hunting tourists that kill endangered animals without conscience. Hunting for pleasure is not only a cruel picture, but also a current topic. It looks like he stayed true to his style of showing grotesque lifestyles, but this time in a documentary instead of a fictional work, which is all the more shocking.

War on Everyone | UK

Category: Gala Premieres

Direction: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Tessa Thompson, Michael Peña, Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James

"The two cops-in-crime Terry Monroe and Bob Bolaño are everything but honourable police officers: they extort gangsters, snort illegal substances, refuse to economise on alcohol and smash the odd smart car against a wall. With their own and often violent approach to the law, the duo is feared even more by their colleagues than by criminals in New Mexico. The dirty business conducted by these guardians of the law runs like a well-oiled machine. But there’s one force they did not reckon with: Upper class British criminal Lord James Mangan who, following a robbery, has got his eye on the very same prey."

What we think
Known for his previous works such as «The Guard» and «Calvary», John Michael McDonagh has likely created another movie with the same sense of dark, British humour, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña. Although not your average festival movie it promises to be light and fun entertainment in the likes of «Nice Guys».

Swiss Army Man | USA

Category: Special Screenings

Direction: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

"Stranded on a remote island and full of desperation, Hank is just about to take his own life when suddenly a body washes up on the beach. With great enthusiasm Hank sets about discovering the versatility of a rotting corpse. Which is manifold: The cadaver can be used to make a fire, as quasi-jet-skis to get to the next island and its erection as a signpost back to civilisation! Hank has finally found somebody with whom he can pass the time and shake off his loneliness."

What we think
This movie looks like a crazy and funny version of «Cast Away» - a new attempt in filmmaking that promises refreshing ideas in storytelling and acting. The leading roles are perfectly cast with the very talented Paul Dano («Love and Mercy», «There Will Be Blood») and Daniel Radcliffe («Harry Potter»). The directorial debut of «The Daniels» has not only thrilled the audience, but also won this year’s Sundance Film Festival «Directing Award».

Trivisa / Chu Tai Chiu Fung | Hong Kong

Category: Window Hong Kong

Direction: Vicky Wong, Frank Hui, Jevons Au
Cast: Lam Ka Tung, Richie Jen, Jordan Chan

"Hong Kong in the summer of 1997. Shortly before the handover of the British administered territory to China, three of the city’s most infamous robber barons brood over their future. When all three are coincidently seen together in the same restaurant, it is rumoured that the hostile eccentrics are planning one last major coup; idle talk that brings little peace to any of them."

What we think
For a change in scenery and genre you may want to have a look at this noir-infused mobster movie. All set in Hong Kong’s underground drug district of the 90’s this movie will undoubted feature good martial art fight scenes, plenty of gore and shoot-out’s.

FilmOliver LipsZFF, ZFF 2016, IWCComment