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Thirty-four and Lost in Space
by Marinell Haegelin

The 34th Internationales Kurz(Short)FilmFestival’s (IKFF) Eröffnung (Opening) Ceremony was definitely a laid-back, “Mellow Yellow” evening reminiscent of the 1960s when Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan’s single—sans the electrical bananas—was released. Ranked worldwide among the top ten (of more than 228), the short film festival’s blast-off was in Zeise Kino’s roomy foyer. Jameson® provided guests with weather-appropriate refreshing Begrüßung (welcome) cocktails as they mingled, before slowly filing into Kino 1 at 19:30. Then lights dimmed, and voilà! Cinematic magic began as the festival’s trailers rolled. The children’s short film festival that runs concurrently, Mo&Friese (M&F), was beguilingly persuasive, fresh and fun. The IKFF trailer, with its *cosmic latte* theme, i.e. space traveling, left in its wake the impression that the film festival had launched itself into space, and got lost. Above all, they should know audiences tolerate bad visuals, but not bad audio – ouch.

The next surprise was, speeches were streamlined big time, with a selection of films shown instead. The festival’s competition juries and an overview were presented, and not by the Austrian comedian. Next up, Jana Schiedek, Staatsrätin der Behörde für Kultur und Medien (representative from the City of Hamburg, cultural and media department): Ms. Shiedek languidly, affably talked to the audience about the importance of art and the city, adding that the short film is a genre unto itself. Alexandra Gramatke, Executive Director of the KurzFilmAgentur (KFA) paid special recognition to Juana Bienenfeld, Behörde für Kultur und Medien, Referat Film/Foto (local authorities cultural and media representative, film/photography department). For thirty-five years, Ms. Bienenfeld has steadfastly helped on behalf of the festival, and was encouraged to continue attending even after retirement. Gramatke also acknowledged Birgit Glombitza’s departure and dedication to incorporating video installation-like short films; later, Gramatke introduced one of the eight films shown.

Co-directors Birgit Glombitza and Sven Schwarz kidded during their presentation, with Glombitza focusing on films to be shown during the festival. In contrast, Schwarz’s speech was akin to hearing a cliffhanger. At 17:15 that afternoon, their new landlords (City of Hamburg [Landesbetrieb Immobilienmanagement und Grundvermögen]) sent the signed contract officially guaranteeing use of an empty building for the new Festivalzentrum (festival center) – whew! A brief outline tracked their perilous journey finding new accommodations in the Altona area. Schwarz credited Bezirksamt Altonas (local authorities) members’ support in pointing the short film festival in Kaltenkircher Platz’s direction. (See interview on page --.)

Likewise mellow were the film introductions; the podium was pushed aside, and in-between films the next presenter picked the mic off the floor and carried on. A range of folk from IKFF associates responsible for different category sections to a Mo&Friese representative, Alexandra Gramatke, and spokespersons from the KurzFilmAgentur’s distribution departments presented the films.

The films in order of appearance:

1.) A 1992 forgettable B/W, 1-minuter: FRED HISTÉRICO, Fernando Severo, Brazil. 2.) A M&F delight: DREAMLAND, Mira Mizue, France, color, 4:50 minutes, no dialogue; imaginative, great music and visuals guaranteed to make one smile. 3.) Another old-timer, too long and ambiguous: FIOURUCCI MADE ME HARDCORE, Mark Leckey, UK, 1999, color, 15-minutes, dialogue. 4.) Ritualized dance through an ex-dancers eyes juxtaposes country / city and puberty: MAGNETIC NORTH, Miranda Pennell, UK, 2004, color, 8:30-minutes, dialogue; but, why so nebulous? 5.) With clever editing the 1995er would’ve been funny, instead of borderline boring: M. A. NUMMINEN GOES TECH-NO, Claes Olsson, Finland, color, 4-minutes, no dialogue. 6.) SATURDAYNIGHTFEVER IN BELFAST (rolling three words into one is typical “Denglish”), André Lützen, Germany, 1996, color, 5-minutes, dialogue. 7.) Confusing and confrontational, orchestral music’s not enough to disguise that this is a downer: TODAY WE LIVE, Hannaleena Heiska, Finnland, 2013, color, 7:17 minutes, no dialogue. 8.) KING OF DISCO listed no filmmaker, country or year, just “color, no dialogue.” Who cares! It was funny, and at three-minutes a pleasant ending.

No wonder attendees entering the cinema were given a list with each film title / details – only the M&F selection was listed in the 2018 festival directory. Why did IKFF show old films, instead of selections from the current program? Since the majority of the films were dance related, people would be justified to think dance was this year’s theme (instead of space). Laid back is good, to be let down is not.

Afterward, the new festival center beckoned to be explored. Gebäude (building) H, part of the Deutsche Post complex at Kaltenkircher Platz, is humongous. I saw it the day they started setting up, and it kept evolving as the festival settled in – special kudos to everyone involved, especially considering the sweat-dripping heat! Outdoors easily accommodated open-air screenings, and three separate groupings of picnic-style tables were just beyond the food and drink areas inside. In the vast new surroundings, and spread over two floors were the ShortFilmMarket with fifteen viewing facilities, Festival-Bikes to rent and miniature golf, cinema, installations, and plenty of room for partying.