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German Competition, Part V
by Becky Tan

The German competition is one of several competitions at the Short Film Festival in Hamburg. The others are the International Competition, the three-minute Quickie and the Mo & Friese Children’s competition. This German Competition featured 22 films, chosen out of 750 candidates. I saw five of them, of which one, The Magical Dimension by Gudrun Krebitz, was the winner.  Others were Souvenir by Miriam Gossing and Lina Sieckmann, Frei Zeit (Free Time) by Ulu Braun, Datscha Turbaza (Dacha Turbaza) by Marko Mijatovic, and Believe by Nicolaas Schmidt.

In Magical Dimension we learn that “we can be in two places at once: in a real world and in a magical world.” Or as director Krebitz said, “You can choose to be in the visible or in the invisible world.” This was the shortest in my section – only seven minutes. All others were longer – up to 24 minutes. Director Gudrun Krebitz comes from Austria and studied in London and Berlin, where she now lives. She happily accepted the prize for best short film in the German Competition, and said that all she ever wanted to do was to make films.

In order to make Souvenir, directors Gossing and Sieckmann travelled on long ferry rides between Holland and England, Germany and Norway, talking to widows whose husband had gone to sea. The “souvenirs” mentioned are gifts which sailors brought back to their wives on home leave. Although they researched their information through former wives, actual people were not important in the film, but rather porcelain dogs, empty hallways on ships, an isolated bar, pictures of parrots, etc. In Free Time, we see the world looking down from an upstairs hotel balcony: the beach, a golf course, someone watering flowers, old people, and dolphins. One dolphin merges into a human being. Director Ulu Braun, who looked like a real hippie, said he contemplated what people really wanted and did they really have to go somewhere else? Dacha Turbaza was the longest film in this group at 24 minutes, and could, therefore, have an actual plot. Here former military people are building a new settlement of dachas in Murmansk in northwestern Russia, near the Barents Sea. They wish to move into a safe neighborhood, while Yana, who just finished school, wishes to leave the area. What to do with the dog, Biscuit? Director Mijatovic actually went to Murmansk, where this construction was taking place, and talked to real people, whom he featured in his film. Director Schmidt asks in Believe, “is there someone you know who reminds you of the sun?”

All of these films could have been winners, possibly because they share similarities. Several had dogs, cemeteries, gardens; they featured gorgeous colors on screen, and pointed to a fantasy world. Two directors studied in Hamburg at the University of Fine Arts. One characteristic was true of all five films: beaches and the sea played an important role.