A Finnish Boxer And A North Korean Emigrant Take Top Awards At the Zürich Film Festival

by Helen Hoehne October 3, 2016
Directors Juho Kuosmanen and Jero Yun,w inners of the 12th Zurich Film Festivak

Directors Juho Kuosmanen (top) and Jero Yun win the main awards at the 12th Zürich Fim Festival.

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The main juries of the 12th Zurich Film Festival’s three competition categories have awarded their Golden Eyes to Hymyilevä Mies / The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Mäki (Finland, Germany, Sweden) by Juho Kuosmanen (International Feature Film).

Madame B. Histoire D'une Nord-Coréenne / Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman (France, South Korea) by Jero Yun (International Documentary Film)and Stille Reserven / Hidden Reserves (Austria, Germany, Switzerland) by Valentin Hitz (Focus: Switzerland, Germany, Austria). The Emerging Swiss Talent Award for a Swiss film went to Europe, She Loves (Switzerland, Germany) by Jan Gassmann and the Critics’ Choice Award goes to Lady Macbeth (Great Britain) by William Oldroyd.

The winning international feature film and biopic Hymyilevä Mies tells the story of Olli Mäki, a likeable and shy baker from a provincial Finnish town and the nation’s greatest boxing talent. In 1962, his ambitious manager secured him a title fight against the American featherweight world champion Davey Moore. The event is supposed to be the highlight of Finland’s sporting history. Preparations for the big day are under way but Olli’s thoughts are elsewhere. He has fallen in love with a girl, which does not agree with the manager. Director Juho Kuosmanan breaks from the traditional sporting film, employing charm and melancholy. He uses black and white imagery to highlight what truly makes us happy. Love and affection triumph over competition and ambition.

The winning international documentary film Madame B. Histoire D'une Nord-Coréenne follows the journey of Madame B from North Korea to China in order to increase her income and take better care of family. However, when her smugglers sell her to a Chinese farmer, Madame B must learn to adjust to her new life. She sets up her own smuggling ring to help North Korean families flee to South Korea. Finally, in order to see her sons again, she sets off on a second adventurous journey. Director Jero Yun accompanied Madame B over the course of several years and shows a fascinating portrait of a woman who finds her strength.

The winning focus film Stille Reserven is a dystopian tale of Vienna in the not too distant future. The city becomes somber and colorless when an insurance company begins its dirty trade. Ruthless business people have created a totalitarian system in which the customer no longer has the right to die naturally but rather is kept alive artificially for as long as their mental or physical resources are useful. The rebellious activist Lisa is living in an impoverished parallel underground society, trying to shut down the life support factory. When Vincent, who earns his money with death insurance, is sent to track her down, a dangerous cat and mouse game begins.