The press conference, again at Im Nachtasyl in Thalia Theater – stuffy, with bad acoustics – presented the 2014 festival trailer, information concerning the ensuing festival, and exciting modifications. Including their website’s just completed overhaul, with a warning not to use it for another hour? Clips from a handful of films were shown, and printed programs were made available. Apparently, complaints from the public perpetrated more films with German subtitles this year.
People, be careful what you wish for; this year’s subtitle dilemma was a doozy! Festival attendees are probably complaining now because they bought tickets expecting captions to be in one language and they were in another. Combine that with the asinine alphabetization—perplexing, considering how many accredited journalists are native English speakers living in HH. Navigating the programs (magazine, brochure, website, and an advanced industry screenings sheet – thanks Ina!) took dedicated stamina. For example: the Czech Republic’s Vejška, English title Prague Cans was changed to Prague Graffiti everywhere, except Filmfest Hamburg (FFHH) website’s English version. The Swedes fared far worse with their Oscar® nomination: it was listed as Höhere Gewalt, as Turist, and under the original title Force Majeure.
FFHH gets lots of points for films with NO subtitles – We All Want What\'s Best For Her, Die Beunruhigung, Anton der Zauberer…you get my drift. And films CANCELLED due to technical problems: public screenings were switched to a different cinema, but not industry’s. Imagine sprinting from CinemaxX to Abaton when you finally learn the film’s cancelled—Saturday Juaja, and Monday Blue Sky Bones, there’s no replacement film and both cinemas have the same start time. Maybe the festival’s in cahoots with a fitness company. Hope was delayed an hour, further stymieing journalists. Since this dilemma is ongoing, FFHH should hire someone specifically to check films—titles, quality, and projector compatibility, and ensure participating cinemas comply. Is it asking too much to stagger screenings at Abaton and CinemaxX allowing for more time between screenings? It’s 15-minutes minimal to get from CinemaxX to Abaton; perhaps the kid’s festival should move back to CinemaxX.
Festival Director Albert Wiederspiel and Head of Programming Kathrin Kohlstedde were their usual charming selves. Thankfully, the rest of the staff doesn’t have that backwater mentality even though they’re on the front line taking the heat. Granted I don’t know every staff person but ever helpful were the Press team, headed by Caroline Schmidt-Gross with Marion Kollenhof and Ulrich Ortlieb, Ina Hon for Accreditation, and Mathieu Dolenc and Sabina Poppen for Materials. Ronja Niendorff deserves special mention: stuck with telling industry a screening was cancelled, she consistently remained friendly and helpful. The Michel Filmfest team did a much better job controlling the kids this year.
The Festivalzentrum printer’s funk sent many accredited persons away without getting his or her evening screening ticket(s) the first day. Additionally, FFHH told industry we could get tickets at participating cinemas by showing our I.D., but not all theatres—primarily CinemaxX—complied. Some took this, and this year’s slipshod organization, with a grain of salt; others kept adding to their growing list of complaints. Good PR would seem to dictate FFHH give this year’s accredited persons a discount next year – at least those that return.
Disclosure: this article’s information was experienced first-hand, or by one of the members of the Film Group.