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The Hamburg Film Festival
by Becky Tan

The 22nd annual Filmfest Hamburg runs September 25 to October 4. Festival director Albert Wiederspiel expects, as in the past, over 40,000 fans to enjoy 140 international films (many, many in English) over ten days.

The opening film on September 25 will be Pride, a comedy about a group of gays/lesbians who travel in a colorful bus to Wales to support miners on strike. These two highly dissimilar groups are instinctively wary of each other, but soon begin to book successes against the Thatcher government as they pull together.  Director Matthew Warchus will be present. A hot tip is Mommy by 25-year-old, Canadian director, Xavier Dolan. Mommy just won the jury prize in the 2014 Cannes film festival; all of Dolan’s four previous films in his young career have shown in Hamburg.

A new category called “Freihafen” features 12 films in which German producers are involved. They will compete for 50,000 in prize money. The Deluxe section will feature 10 films from former Eastern Germany, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. This year the coveted Douglas Sirk prize will go to Fatih Akin; we will see his film The Cut, which was up for competition at the Venice Film Festival. Sky television has come in as a sponsor and will bring several sections from the U.S. TV series “Boardwalk Empire” in English. Also watch for special panel discussions and interviews with film makers.

The children’s Michel festival will play September 26 to October 4 in Abaton.

The complete program is available at at the filmfest website, or pick up the film schedule at any of the participating cinemas: Abaton, Cinemaxx, Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage, Studio, and 3001, as well as in Levante Haus shopping center, Mönckebergstrasse. The festival headquarters has been set up in front of Abaton Cinema, Allende-Platz. Their information counter is open on September 25 from 9:30 to 17:00 and then from September 26 until the end of the festival from 9:30 to 18:00. Every evening there will be discussions in the festival lounge, next to the information counter.