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Let the Film Festival Begin
by Marinell Haegelin

The undercurrent of excitement mounted as the theatre gradually filled for Hamburg\'s 28th International Kurz(Short)FilmFestival’s (IKFF) opening ceremony. Starting out as the NoBudget Short Film Festival in 1985, in 1994 the name changed to IKFF; a 1992 offshoot was KurzFilmAgentur (KFA). IKFF is part of KFA, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and currently under Executive Director Alexandra Gramatke. In 1999 the Mo&Friese Kinder (Children) Kurz Film Festival evolved out of IKFF’s special programming for children—they truly celebrate all facets of short films. After hearing such positive comments last year from Film Group members Shelly S. and Becky T., my expectations were high.

Which made my disappointment more palpable. Although celebrating milestones, the opening speeches were non-inspiring, non-imaginative, and the lady from the Kulturbehörde (cultural authority) rambled, quoting some author she had to keep explaining. Feet shuffled and whispering was apparent to anyone sitting in the audience, if not audible to herself onstage, yet on she droned.

Festival directors Birgit Glombitza and Sven Schwarz presented the eight shorts constituting the opening program chosen from Competitions(Wettbewerbe), Special Programs (Sonderprogramme), and Mo&Friese. IKFF offers panels, workshops, and lectures as well.

Mo&Friese Kinder Kurz Film Festival:
Ischa (Wish) by Onkiet Alam, Bangladesh / 2011, 3:00 minutes  / no dialogue, fiction
A child’s mother shatters his dream to fly, but this country boy’s imagination soon envisions another aspiration. With high production values, the lack of dialogue makes this story too ambiguous. Slight alterations in both direction and editing could have enhanced this otherwise O.K film.

Tape Generations by Johan Rijpma, Netherlands / 2011, 2:40 minutes / no dialogue, experimental
Clear tape spools unwind, rewind, dance, increase, decrease, and are shown from above and below a large square glass tabletop. Interesting? Somewhat. Experimental? Nah, just digital manipulation. I wonder why this was chosen instead of a more creative—perhaps animated—children’s film of corresponding length.

International KurzFilmFestival Hamburg:
Demolition by Jörg Keweloh, Germany / 2004, 5:00 minutes / no dialogue, experimental
Footage comprising of industrial structures in the Ruhr area of Germany being demolished is: set to music, shown in slow motion, fast-forwarded and reversed, repeated, etcetera. Unfortunately, it suffers from redundancy—needed more footage—and more efficient, creative editing.

Escape by Rosa Hannah Ziegler, Germany / 2011, 21:03 minutes / German, fiction
Jamie and Leo, obliviously bad mannered and foul mouthed, are supposedly on their way to visit Leo’s aunt: hitch hiking, swimming and sunning, walking. In the film’s final minutes they stop at a gas station convenience store where we become privy to the sinister depth of their natures. The script is weak and patchy—clues are needed; the director’s preoccupation with showing Leo photographing Jamie (a more evident clue that the gals are gay would’ve helped) leads nowhere other than to tedium. 

Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg\'s Howl by Tiffany Shain, USA / 2011, 2:50 minutes / English, experimental documentary
With Peter Coyote\'s distinctive voice and perfectly timed narrative delivery, and a mix of attention-grabbing animated graphics and photography, this film is too short, it is that good.

Thin Red Line by Peter O’Donoghue, Ireland / 2011, 2:50 minutes / no dialogue, experimental
Analogue technology and split screens create audiovisual elements that evolve and change. This hackneyed technique renders the film better suited to a background wall at a discotheque. NoBudget (category) does not have to equate to being boring, which this short is.

Il Capo (The Chief) by Yuri Ancarani, Italy / 2010, 15:55 minutes / no dialogue, documentary
Italian marble quarries, men and their machines, a baking sun and the Chief orchestrating what area to cut, when. There is missed opportunity here: different direction in editing could have made the story much more intense, interesting and inclusive.

Infernal Nuns by Roland Petrezza & Alex Eslam, Germany / 2011, 2:30 minutes / English, fiction
Having sat through over 51-minutes of films, and the blah blah in-between, I was rewarded. The title says it all. This wonderfully ironic, nonreligious, quasi-movie-trailer film is high in production values, execution, and entertainment.

Of the eight films shown, more than half were experimental, which, had they been good was still careless reasoning for an opening ceremony and especially with this being an Anniversary-year. The films should have been cherry-picked to entice and delight a diverse audience. Were the minds behind the programming for IKFF experimenting with how far they could push their audience? Tsk, tsk—stop experimenting. Instead choose films from the plethora you receive that: tell a story, that is interesting, that is original, and that audiences are likely to understand.