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FESTIVALS / AWARDS Germany

Symbols, dreams and emotions aplenty at the 28th Filmfest Hamburg

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- The German gathering has proven that the audience still has a longing to attend cinema and festival screenings

Symbols, dreams and emotions aplenty at the 28th Filmfest Hamburg
Enfant Terrible by Oskar Roehler, the opening film of Filmfest Hamburg

The 28th edition of Filmfest Hamburg (24 September-3 October) was the first big film festival in Germany to take place physically after the COVID-19 lockdown. On this occasion, Filmfest Hamburg director Albert Wiederspiel presented a selection of 76 films. “We had to reduce the programme by half because we could only use 30% of the seating capacity in the cinemas,” said Wiederspiel. The number of tickets sold amounted to 13,690 visitors, which is about one-third of the number from last year. “For me, as a cineaste, this is delightful because it proves that the audience still has a longing to attend cinema and festival screenings, and that they are cautiously coming back to the theatres.” Furthermore, about 3,000 online tickets were sold for the digital version of the festival, Streamfest Hamburg.

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One film that particularly aroused the audience’s curiosity was Oskar Roehler’s opening title, the drama Enfant Terrible [+see also:
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, which looks at the life and excesses of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The iconic German filmmaker was recalcitrant and not always politically correct.There was a lot of rock‘n’roll in his life, and it was fun to shoot it,” underlined Oliver Masucci, who stars in the title role.

Another German film that was presented as a world premiere at Filmfest Hamburg was Moritz Bleibtreu’s directorial debut, Cortex [+see also:
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. The award-winning German actor also wrote the script, starred in the lead role and produced the psycho-thriller. “Cortex is the Latin expression for cerebrum. It is the part of our brain that is responsible for our symbols, dreams and emotions,” pointed out Bleibtreu, who fittingly blurs the line between dream and reality in his film. In it, a middle-aged man has annoying dreams about a young man. The rude awakening starts when he wakes up and finds out that the young man is actually messing around with his wife.

The line-up of Filmfest Hamburg also included various recent international festival highlights, such as the poetic French coming-of-age drama and Cannes buyer favourite Gagarin [+see also:
film review
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interview: Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Tr…
film profile
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by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh, the shimmering love story Spring Blossom [+see also:
film review
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interview: Suzanne Lindon
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by Suzanne Lindon, the provocative Canadian family drama Antigone by Sophie Deraspe and the clever allegory Apples [+see also:
film review
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interview: Christos Nikou
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by Greek director Christos Nikou.

The winner of the Audience Award at Filmfest Hamburg was Victor Kossakovsky’s silent black-and-white film Gunda [+see also:
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, about a pig on a farm. The Russian cameraman and filmmaker is known for his poetic and visually powerful documentaries ¡Vivan las Antípodas! [+see also:
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and Aquarela [+see also:
film review
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interview: Victor Kossakovsky
film profile
]
. “With Gunda, we want people to see these animals as sentient beings, and we want to encourage them to consider the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood,” said Kossakovsky. “Gunda is the most personal and the most important movie I have ever made as a filmmaker, and as a human being.” The Audience Award includes prize money of €5,000 and was the only prize given out at the 28th Filmfest Hamburg.

“This year, we went without juries or prizes,” summed up Wiederspiel, whose approach is to select films that won’t be released theatrically. More than 50 festival titles don’t have distribution yet in Germany. “It is the purpose of a festival to present new talents to the audience. We showed 21 directorial debuts and 21 films by female filmmakers, which comes down to 30% of our programme.”

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