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What Hamburg’s Children’s Short Film Festival has to Offer. Mo & Friese Kinder Kurz Film Festival
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

The children’s shorts which opened before the International KurzFilmFestival were shown in eight different locations around Hamburg which included Gymnasium Ohmoor and Lola Kulturzentrum. The children shorts included 68 films from 32 countries.  This is a festival that is growing before our eyes. I think the children’s short are shorts that everyone can enjoy.  They are not so abstract or obscure like the adult section of the International Short Film Festival. You learn new things and see how children think as well as live their lives. The film Lous van het Reuzenrad by Tara Fallaux which impressed me documented the life of a boy whose family works in the carnival.  It raised questions such as where does he go to school, who are his friends and what are the positive and negative sides of this lifestyle.

This year’s theme was the subject light.  At the point we see how creative the filmmakers were in describing light such as electric light, inner light, sunlight or even the light of the moon. At the opening, I saw a wonderful black and white three minute American film Burrow Cams which takes us to the underground world of wild animals in their homes. I made the mistake and landed in the film section for young children and thought “Oh boy” as droves of small children caring car seats poured into the cinema. The theme called Schief Gewickelt offered a group of shorts that made you laugh since everything went wrong but then somehow worked its way out.  The moderator (Marie-Therese Mitteregger) and the film projectionist (Lina Paulsen) were active in making the showing of these films interesting even to the adults.  All the questions and the starting of the films were made into a game and I was surprised how many of these small children had the correct answers.

There are workshops that helps organize schools to make films as well as giving young filmmakers the opportunity to get recognition for the films that they make. Children can be reporters as well as be on a jury.  Schools can sign up for a cultural day and reserve seats in the cinema and have class there as well. There are so many opportunities within this film festival.

 On the last day of the film festival I had the opportunity to see what kind of films could be created here in Hamburg on short notice. There were two sets of films. One set was at a certain location which was the FilmZentrum of the KurzFilmFestival and at the schools where the kids were given a set amount of time to come up with a script or storyboard, film it and then edit it.

There were two separate juries which included children from eight to twelve years in age.  This year there were a number of prizes given away, starting with the Mo prize which went to the Turkish film Ziazan by Derya D.Durmaz who shows how a little girl becomes an entrepreneur when her new set of friends ask for Turkish candy which is unavailable in Armenia. There was a special mention to the film Tzdafa by Maya Tiberman.

The Friese prize went to a French Swiss film Vigia by Marcel Barelli which made me smile and also gave me hope that many of our kids may have an interest in their environment.  This film shows how bees are dying out due to pesticides and how that has an impact on the environment. They also gave special mention to the Danish film Wochenendfar (Weekend Papa) where a father and some kids plan a camping weekend in a location where bank robbers have made into their hideout. Each prize was worth 1250 euros.

The Free Style Prize is 1000 euros and was split between two films: the Danish documentary Niemandsland (No man’s land) by Micheal Graverson where Graverson followed children who have left their homeland and are waiting to get permission to live in their new country, and the British film Exchange and Mart by Martin Clark and Cara Connolly which deals with sexual assault and finding a way to deal with it psychologically in a light way. I personally was very impressed by Graverson’s film since there are a number of people here in Germany who are trying to get asylum and are lost in this stateless formality who are suffering psychologically and wondering where their future lies.

The last award is the High Five Awards where 600 euros is generously donated from Geolino. These films are made from children 13 years old and under. First place went to a film called Tanz der Helden by Oliva and Onno Sawitzki, and Joesphine and Julie Gerdes (Hamburg) who received 300 euros. Second place went to Peepe and Dörte by the Paulikids (Hamburg) who received 200 euros and third place went to 2513, an  animation (Czech Republic) by Hynek Voracek, Matous Hruby and Bruno Socolic who received 100 euros.  It was fun to see the films made in Hamburg since you could recognize different part of the cities. 

Each section was presented by a jury and then the winning films were shown again.  It was a great deal of fun with the exception that the jury had to read off why the film won and you had the feeling that the words did not belong to those kids, since some of them could not even read what was written on the slip of paper.  I would have preferred to hear the words of the children no matter how simple their reasons were to give that film the prize. This is definitely a worthwhile festival for young people and even I had a great time.  There were several memorable films that I had the chance to see and has already made an impact on my life.