Award-winning composers: Career Achievement Award for Mychael Danna, Golden Eye for Andrey Mordovsky

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The 17th Zurich Film Festival honours the film music composer Mychael Danna. The Canadian accepted the ZFF’s Career Achievement Award on Thursday evening at the Tonhalle Zurich. Danna also presented the Golden Eye for “Best International Film Music 2021” to Russian composer Andrey Mordovsky, the winner of the 9th International Film Music Competition. Finally, the new audiovisual signet including the ZFF Suite by Composer Trio Diego Baldenweg with Nora Baldenweg & Lionel Baldenweg was world premiered.

Without his music, such cornerstones of movie history as Ang Lee’s masterpieces THE ICE STORM and LIFE OF PI, for example, would not have been nearly as impactful. The 17th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) honoured the film music composer Mychael Danna with the Career Achievement Award on Thursday evening. Danna accepted the accolade during the 9th International Film Music Competition, stating: “I’m truly humbled to join the ranks of the previous winners. I’m going to set this Golden Eye near where I write and I’m going to turn it so it stares at me unceasingly and reminds me that I need to try to live up to it. And also it will remind me of the four days I spent here at this absolutely fabulous festival, at this absolutely amazing city. I’m coming back here next year with my family – it’s so beautiful here.” Finally, Danna thanked ZFF Artistic Director Christian Jungen, the ZFF team, the volunteers and, last but not least, the Tonhalle Orchestra, calling it “a kick-ass orchestra!”

In his laudation, Christian Jungen told the story of how Danna was almost fired from LIFE OF PI because the studio boss didn’t like his music, and then found himself winning the Oscar for this very score. “The Canadian is not somebody you just replace, directors trust him.” Quoting director Bennett Miller, who hired Danna for the films CAPOTE and MONEYBALL, Jungen said, “He’s a collaborator, not an employee. He’s an artist, not a gun for hire.”

Danna, who also presided over the international jury of experts for the 9th International Film Music Competition, in turn presented the Russian composer Andrey Mordovsky with the Golden Eye for Best International Film Music 2021″ endowed with a 10’000 Swiss franc cash prize.

182 up-and-coming composers from 37 countries around the globe submitted arrangements for the award-winning short film ETIQUETA NEGRA by David Vergés. The jury, which included Danna, the Swiss-Australian film composer Diego Baldenweg, the Swiss music supervisor Pirmin Marti and the German conductor Frank Strobel, selected the compositions of three entrants to participate in the final. These were world premiered by the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich under the baton of Frank Strobel before the award ceremony.

“The competition offers the audience a rare opportunity to hear and compare different approaches in a live concert. It gives them an idea of the great musical diversity that is possible,” says Marc Barwisch, Head of Artistic Administration at the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich. “From the perspective of the participants, it is a great opportunity to hear their own compositions performed by a world-class orchestra. This chance attracts hundreds of talents from around the world to enter this competition every year.”

The jury gave the following reason for its choice: “Andrey Mordovsky’s score is bold and audacious, eccentric and full of irony, like the film itself that it portrays. The score is skillfully orchestrated with interesting colours and in the end successfully builds a world that mirrors the film in almost every way.”

Golden Eye winner Andrey Mordovsky, who had already been one of the finalists at the 8th International Film Music Competition two years ago, was overjoyed to receive the award this year: “I’m insanely happy to be here in this wonderful city, to be a part of this film festival. This competition is a great opportunity for young composers like me from all over the world.”


Mychael Danna (right) presents the Golden Eye to Andrey Mordovsky before Danna himself is honoured with the Career Achievement Award. © Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF

The evening was rounded off by a Film Music Concert, which included scores by Mychael Danna. The audiovisual signet of the Zurich Film Festival was also premiered: the visual was created by Swiss director and video artist Luzian Schlatter. The ZFF Suite “Eye to the World” by Composer Trio Diego Baldenweg with Nora Baldenweg & Lionel Baldenweg was played live for the first time by the Tonhalle Orchestra; it is further available for replay on various platforms such as Spotify. The Composer Trio Baldenweg was also honoured with a medley of their film music, with the support of the Fondation Suisa.

The full programme and tickets for the 17th Zurich Film Festival (Sept. 23-Oct. 3) are available on the ZFF website.

The Festival Centre is open for tickets and information. Tickets can also be purchased on the ZFF website and from the ticket booth at Paradeplatz, at blue Cinema Corso and the ticket booth at Sihlcity.

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