Lorenz Merz's 'Beast' Wins Zurich Film Festival's Filmmaker Award

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for IWC
Lorenz Merz (left) and Simon Hesse

'Lion' star Dev Patel presented Merz and producer Simon Hesse with the honor, which comes with $100,000 in funding to complete the project.

Beast, a coming-of-age film from Swiss director Lorenz Merz, won the fourth annual Filmmaker Award at the 2018 Zurich International Film Festival.

British actor Dev Patel (Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) presented Merz and producer Simon Hesse with the honor, which is awarded to an outstanding, but still uncompleted, Swiss feature film.

The prize, backed by Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, comes with $100,000 in prize money earmarked for completion of the project.

Shot in Zurich, in the Swiss German dialect, Beast follows the story of a teenager, Gabriel (Pablo Caprez), who is raising his 2-year-old son as a single dad. One summer's night, Gabriel, his friend Joel (Tonatiuh Radzi) and Joel's girlfriend Cory (Ella Rumpf) break into the zoo and release a horde of wild animals. With the city in a state of emergency, Gabriel and Cory find themselves drawn to each other.

"In a smaller country like Switzerland, the film industry is reliant on targeted support,” said Franziska Gsell, chief marketing officer at IWC Schaffhausen. “I am really pleased that, with the Filmmaker Award, we are able to contribute to getting this exciting film made.”