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Filmfest Hamburg Impressions
by Becky Tan

The Filmfest Hamburg is the third largest film festival in Germany after Berlin and Munich. This year the 31st film festival showed 132 feature films from 48 countries, divided into 10 categories, including a category for young people: MICHEL Kinder und Jugend Filmfest, as well as and the Molodist Kyiv (Kiev) International Film Festival which came from Ukraine.

Director Albert Wiederspiel and his team welcomed 520 guests from 33 countries. There was an 17% increase in attendance over all past years with 52,700 tickets sold. There were over 1400 accredited participants.

In the end Wiederspiel stepped down from his job after excellent management over 21 years. In honor of Wiederspiel’s long accomplishments, a new prize was created: the Albert Wiederspiel Preis (Albert Wiederspiel Award) of 10,000 euros for best international film director. The winner of this new prize was the Iranian director Farhad Delaram for his film ACHILLES. There were 11 prizes in all. We were introduced to Wiederspiel’s successor Malika Rabahallah.


We had rainy weather towards the end and that wasn’t so bad because I didn’t feel guilty sitting inside at the movies all day. This year I missed spending most of my time at Abaton cinema as in the past. I missed its tent on the parking lot where we were more able to be social with others, because you had to go by if you were in Abaton. This year the festival center was the Moin Filmfest Cafe upstairs in Cinemaxx. It’s naturally a beautiful place for us to sit and drink coffee, even eat lunch, and talk with two of the festival workers who were always behind their desk, but you never went by there by chance—you always had to make it a point to go.

The festival was very well organized for accredited people with two-four films for us beginning at 10:00 each morning and then going into films for the general public (and us) beginning more in the afternoon and carrying on until almost midnight. All of the films I saw over seven of the 10 days were worth my time—not one “bad” film was on my list.

I didn’t see many of my colleagues, whom I see at regular press film showings. I always started around 10:00 and was home by 18:00 and it’s possible that they kicked in later and stayed until after midnight. I was happy to see my colleague Michael Spangenberg, who has attended many international film festivals. If you would like to read in German about this festival and many of the films, visit Michael’s website

I saw at least one film in each category except Grosse Freiheit and saw the most (eight) from the category Kaleidoskop. This year I missed going to the kid’s MICHEL festival because it moved from last year’s location Abaton to Studio-Kino which is more difficult for me to reach.

I missed many discussions because if it was a question of discussion or film, and I usually chose film. This year there seemed to be fewer announcements, introductions, and discussions in English. German was THE festival language, which shouldn’t be a problem for most of the attendees, considering that it was a German film festival showing in Germany. Still 92 of the 132 films were shown in either English or with English subtitles.

My colleague Nancy Tilitz and I thought it was interesting that we have been active in the festival longer than Wiederspiel—namely over 25 years. I remember that as a newcomer I was invited (or “hired” without pay) to introduce films and conduct Q&A sessions on stage; they needed someone to speak English. Nancy remembers when film groups met in her art gallery in Dammtor train station across from Cinemaxx cinema.