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FESTIVALS Germany

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Refugee flows and religious conflicts under the spotlight at Filmfest Hamburg

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- The movies at the 23rd Filmfest Hamburg reflected an array of burning socio-political issues

Refugee flows and religious conflicts under the spotlight at Filmfest Hamburg
l-r: festival director Albert Wiederspiel, Sina Ataeian Dena (writer-director of Paradise), producer Yousef Panahi, actress Farabi Kamran, actress Dorna Dibaj and producer Amir Hamz (© Filmfest Hamburg/Martin Kunze)

At the Filmfest Hamburg (1-10 October), various films on the programme reflected burning issues such as refugee flows and religious conflicts. “We established the new Veto section, which was developed out of our programme of political films,” reported festival director Albert Wiederspiel.

The Veto competition included Sean McAllister’s documentary A Syrian Love Story [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, about a Syrian family who have escaped from their homeland; Abd Al Malik’s Qu’Allah bénisse la France! [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, about a young French rapper who converts to Islam; and the political satire My Internship in Canada by Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar), in which an independent Member of Parliament is about to tip the scales at an upcoming referendum. The Swedish documentary Every Face Has a Name [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Magnus Gertten, which tells the story of some of the people who survived the holocaust 70 years ago, won the Political Film Award. The prize comes with €5,000, donated by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

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In total, the festival presented 172 films from 52 countries. Among the highlights was Jaco Van Dormael’s original tragicomedy The Brand New Testament [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Jaco van Dormael
film profile
]
, which kicked off the gathering. The guest of honour at the opening gala was French actress Catherine Deneuve, who was awarded the prestigious Douglas Sirk Prize. A further festival hit was the French-Turkish-German co-production Mustang [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
film profile
]
by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, which earned German distributor Weltkino the CICAE Art Cinema Award, which comes with €5,000 in marketing support. 

The Best Debut Feature Award went to Keeper [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: Guillaume Senez ­
interview: Kacey Motten Klein
film profile
]
by Belgian director Guillaume Senez, which tells the story of two love-struck teens who have to deal with an unexpected pregnancy. For the first time, the festival presented a Made in Hamburg section featuring local productions. Among the world premieres was the road movie Stroppy Cow, Stubborn Ram [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Johannes Fabrick, which had been awarded the Green Shooting Card for sustainable production, issued by the Film Commission Hamburg

The Filmfest Hamburg came to a close with the Iranian-German co-production Paradise [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by writer-director Sina Ataeian Dena, who gives an insight into Iranian society, where men still retain their monopoly on power. “There is no main section at our festival,” summed up Wiederspiel. “The local audience is aware of the fact that they have to look around a bit like a truffle hog.”

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