Last year during the short film festival, co-director Sven Schwarz told me they were scouting new Festivalzentrum (festival center) locations in Altona, where their cultural roots run deep. Flashback to June 2017: After seven years, IKFF (International Kurz(Short)Film Festival) and its many followers bid adieu to Halle 5 at the Kolbenhof, a 100-plus-year-old manufacturing complex down the road from Zeise Kinos. Unfortunately, it was not under Denkmalschutz (Historical Protection), hence other than one small portion, out-of-control development razed the complex.
As well, Sven assured me I would get a scoop prior to the 2018 festival beginning. Which I did, in a manner of speaking. On June 5 when I picked-up accreditation material, we crossed paths at the new Festivalzentrum around 17:15. Sven gave me a cursory account, and said workers would continue setting up (during the opening ceremony starting at 18:30), until people arrived for the kickoff-cum-check-the-new-premises party. During the Eröffnung’s ceremony, Sven told the audience a short version of how new premises were acquired.
Today (July 2, 2018), Sven explained the festival’s journey from Friedensallee, Ottensen in Bezirk (district) Altona to Kaltenkircher Platz, Altona-Nord. As you’ll read, during the chain of events there were nail-biting phases, and a white knight came to the rescue.
Fifty-two weeks ago, Sven was approached by the Baudezernat (building department), Bezirksamt Altona (local authorities) at Kolbenhof during the festival, and asked what exactly IKFF was looking for: “Look around…” It’s virtually impossible to find what the festival needed: the size (huge), near participating cinemas, good public transportation, and any nighttime screenings and partying should not disturb neighbors. According to Sven, two-thirds of his time this past year was spent securing new facilities.
Although their funding wasn’t cut further, it also hasn’t kept up with the rise in the cost of living in Hamburg. IKFF applied for a small amount of funding from Bezirksamt Altona, so they were aware of IKFFs plight, and knew the festival wanted to stay in Altona. The Deutsche Post complex at Kaltenkircher Platz was mentioned; still, maneuvering through bureaucracy took time, lots of patience and seemed to be making headway until last autumn. They were told no!
Re-enter Herr Johannes Gerdelmann with the Bauderzemat to save the day. “Without the help of Bezirksamt Altonas we wouldn’t have gotten in!” Four main players were involved: IKFF, the Verwaltung (Management) and the Owner / permit authority – City of Hamburg in both cases, and neighbors – DHL, Paket- und Brief-Express-Dienst (express package / letter service) with the Deutsche Post. DHL insisted on cordoning the festival area for insurance/ safety reasons for all involved.
Sven got the keys to Gebaude (building) H (GH) on a Monday three weeks before the festival, and that evening with a team of approximately 30 individuals walked through brainstorming. IKFF retains 80-90% of staff, and no idea was too silly, e.g. miniature golf. Sven added, “If you know what your team is capable of, everyone is adding ideas and taking it (GHs floor plan) in new directions.” Thereby, Sven concentrated on bigger issues: plumbing, electricity, and having a 5m x 2m x 30cm deep concrete wall section torn out to create a wheelchair accessible plus emergency entrance/exit along the perimeter of the property. The staffs’ generosity and goodwill was reciprocated; sponsors with the expertise chipped in, even hauling away the rubbish.
Preliminary stages began Wednesday, May 30 when everything was shifted from their Kolbenhof storage area to GH, but it wasn’t until Friday, June 1 that teams arrived to start setting up wiring and furnishings. I embarrassingly misread when to pick up accreditation material, turned up on the Friday so got a good look at the transformation. For a quick overview: that weekend signage outside and in was added; volunteers, i.e. family created a miniature golf area; lovely floral arrangements flourished because one woman’s mad about flowers, while another took charge of the kitchen and bar area; big screens, strobes, speakers plus DJ equipment, Info-counter, ShortFilmMarket rooms, and so much more evolved. Next year take a good look around, using your imagination.
Feedback has been very good regarding GH, Sven added. Especially considering vacating Kolbenhof was a huge topic for concern the past few years, and rippled through the international short film festival’s scene. The complex differences, e.g. age,—over 100-years vs. the 1970s—has been an advantage of sorts, negating comparisons. IKFFs esprit de corps permeates, wherever the festival center might be located. As pathfinders with an open-ended contract, IKFF is in a position to guide other “lost sheep” looking for shelter amongst Hamburg’s current plundering profiteers landscape.
So next year, when you’re at the festival center think about their robust, enthusiastic teamwork that emanates from a love of films. The knock-on effect is IKFFs dedication to making sure all of us have extraordinary, horizon-broadening, and fun short film experiences too.