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FESTIVALS Germany

Filmfest Hamburg: A bigger audience for world cinema films

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- With a programme of 148 films from 44 countries, the Filmfest Hamburg had almost 10% more visitors this year

Filmfest Hamburg: A bigger audience for world cinema films

With a programme of 148 films from 44 countries, the Filmfest Hamburg had almost 10% more visitors this year. "We offer more than the average cinemas because we present films that don't receive any theatrical distribution," explained Albert Wiederspiel (photo), head of the Filmfest Hamburg. Only 32 films in the programme already had a German distributor.

"We show around 80 films in the original version which can be seen anywhere else. Often, we even introduce the director after the screening to the audience in a Q&A session," Wiederspiel added. "In that respect, we fill a niche because the classic cinema programme doesn‘t offer a big variety since it is limited to big U.S. blockbuster hits, German productions and a few French films. All the other film countries don't exist in the cinema. The wide spectrum of world cinema is only presented at film festivals."

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At the opening, the Filmfest Hamburg presented 'Valley of Saints', the first film from Kashmir. Lay actors Gulzar Ahmad Bhat and Mohammed Afzal Sofi were completely overwhelmed after the screening because for the first time in their life they had taken a plane and seen a movie in a theatre.

Another highlight for the local audience in Hamburg was the Golden Lion winner Pieta by Kim ki-duk, who was honored with the Douglas Sirk Prize. The Korean director expressed his gratitude by singing a Korean folksong. In addition to Pieta, the Filmfest Hamburg presented a focus of films that dealt with the subject of faith. The Israelian drama God's Neighbours by Meni Yaesh about the threat posed by young fundamentalists in the modern society in Tel Aviv won the Foreign Press Award.

Another contribution from Cannes was Laurence Anyway by the young Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan who had already provided the closing film at the Filmfest Hamburg last year. "With his new film he delivers a colorful collage full of music and emotions that deals with the difficult subject of transexualism," said jury members Erdmann Lange from Atlantis Kino in Germany and Raphael Lie from the Cult Kino in Austria who gave the CICAE Award to Laurence Anyways [+see also:
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. The Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) added €5,000 to the prize for German distributor NFP.

The Audience Award went to the Danish box office hit This Life [+see also:
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by Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis about a Danish restaurant owner who becomes a resistance fighter in the Second World War. The German-Australian-British co-production Lore [+see also:
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by Cate Shortland was awarded with the Hamburg Critique Award.

One of the most successful sections at the Filmfest Hamburg is the programme 16:9, which presents TV films with cinematic style and stories. There is no other section that attracts so many actors to the red carpet. The TV Producers Award was given to Claudia Schröder from the Aspekt-Telefilm-Produktion in Hamburg for the comedy thriller Mörderische Jagd by Markus Imboden. This award includes prize money of €30,000, which is donated by the cultural agency in Hamburg. "Film in the cinema is a passion and a tool to see and experience the world," said Barbara Kisseler, Cultural Senator in Hamburg. "Wiederspiel and his team keep looking for social and political issues that raise questions and existential affectivities that needs to be perceived and discussed with audience."

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