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Let the Festival Open
by Deborah Steinborn

This year’s Filmfest Hamburg opened on September 27 with a premiere evening at the Cinemaxx Dammtor Film Theater. The opening film, WOMAN AT WAR by Benedikt Erlingsson, was just one of the evening’s highlights.

Festival director Albert Wiederspiel welcomed about 1,000 guests at Cinemaxx Dammtor’s main viewing room that evening. Peter Tschentscher, Hamburg’s mayor, gave an eloquent speech about the importance of film and culture to the Free and Hanseatic City.

But the evening’s main highlight was indeed the chosen film. Both the director and the starring actress of WOMAN AT WAR, an Icelandic production that has already won accolades in international film circles, attended the event, gave a lively presentation on stage and at the after-party gala and mingled with a lot of its guests.

WOMAN AT WAR is the story of an independent and affectionate environmental activist in Iceland whose life changes abruptly when her application to adopt a child is granted after many years’ wait. It is reviewed elsewhere in this publication. The film opens in German movie theaters in December.

Bernd Begemann, a locally known contemporary singer-songwriter, and his band provided musical accompaniment to the Premiere evening at Cinemaxx Dammtor. After the film, guests were invited to the after-party Gala at the Hotel Elysee.

Filmfest Hamburg showed more than 130 films from 57 countries over a roughly one-week period. “There is currently a lot of talk about an open and pluralistic society,” said Wiederpsiel in his comments at the premiere. “I wish we would talk less about it and instead work towards such a society.” The choice of films at the festival to a great extent reflected that wish.