This year more than any other, we see a new emerging and ever-changing face of Hamburg. Some things appear to be inspiring and improving the city, while others seem to be just an act of greed and short sightedness. As I arrived on the scene at the Short Film Festival (IKFF) to pick up my accreditation, I was shocked and my heart was sadden as I watched the large cranes tear down the hundred-year-old factory building that was once used to make plane and ship engines by Kolben-Schmidts; for the Short Film Festival the building housed inspiring works of art performance pieces such Hilbert Space and Night Blooming Flower by Karl Nussbaum. The tearing down of that building meant that there wouldn’t be an exhibit this year. I watched the festival team members hang banners across the fences in an effort to hide the new gaping hole now adjacent to the festival center. I was stunned that this interesting space would soon be more housing in Hamburg and the space for cultural and other alternative business would have to find a new home, but where? Hamburg is definitely on the move and is reshaping faster than any of us could ever imagine. Not only are there many new German faces moving into this city, but many refugees as well. We can only look optimistically toward the future and hope everyone and every business will find a new home.
As I picked up my badge I noticed there were not as many journalists here this year, and that the party would be done on a smaller scale. I have to say that Sven Schwarz and his team put on their optimistic smiles and were ready to brave the challenges that face them, not only this year but in the following years as well. So, the atmosphere would be a little bit different than before, with partying on a smaller scale, but the festival would have some added surprises like the Scottish short films as a category, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This new collection of films coming out of Scotland was more accessible to a mainstream audience. They ran more along a narrative storyline and not the abstract, theoretical, or artistic films that usually leave the audience either baffled, angry or lost in space.
The opening night began the same with alcoholic beverages, and an entire stand-up comedy team that made us all laugh even though we could feel the organizers’ uncertainty about the future of their festival. In fact, I was surprised that they were going on with the show despite all their obstacles to organize a festival. In the end the festival was a great success despite all hindrances, and I can only say that I had a great time and will attend IKFF next year to see what their new plan will be.
One of the main reasons that this year will stick in my mind as a success story has to do with a film called Symbolic Threats. It is a film I will never forget, despite the fact I saw so many shorts I sometimes had the feeling I was swimming in a blurred vision of film footage. This film was special. It won two awards: the German Competition Award and the Audience Award. I expect it will win many more after it runs through the festival circuits. The Brooklyn Bridge usually has two American flags flying high over it, and in a daring and illegal move these two German filmmakers, deep in the night, changed the flags to white ones and then filmed the response. The film gives the image of capitulation; they documented the responses of various people such as the mayor, the police, and the average person on the street, showing a fear that lies deep in the psyche of American society. It makes me think about my country, the USA, and in which direction we are going. Did we always have this fear? Will it ever go away? Is this why we have so many guns? The film basically ends on the note that maybe we really want to have more freedom and not be so controlled and paranoid. I recently saw the film The Walk about the French tightrope walker Phillip Petti who illegally walked across the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the 1970s. He was arrested, of course but none could deny it was a breath-taking feat; he was later released and given a card that allowed him to go to the top anytime he wanted. It is interesting that it takes a pair of foreign eyes to see what kind of threads make up the fabric of my country, and how we might want to change our course for the future.
Awards were as follows:
The winner of the International Competition was Brouillard Passage Number 14 by Alexandre Larose, Canada and received 3000€.
The No Budget Competition Award went to La baracca by Frederico Di Corato and Alessandro De Leo, Italy and received 2000€.
No Budget Audience Award (Optimistic Vision) went to Mijael Bustos Gutierrez from Chile for the film un cuento de amor lo cura y muereo and received 1500€.
Hamburg Competition Award went to the film 3600 Frames RGB 29 Special. The Manifestation of Capitalism in Our Lives is Sadness by Ray Juster and Nicolaas Schmidt.
The Audience Award for the “Three-minute Quickie” competition went to Shahin Mohammad Bagher, Iran/Syria, for the film Maekia and received 1000€.
The Arte Short Film Award went to Excursie by Adrian Sitaru from Romania and received 6000€
The German film Symbolic Threats by Mischa Leinkaif, Lutz Henke and Mattias Wernket, took home two awards: the Audience Award and German Competition Award and received 2000€.
Thank you International Kurz(Short)FilmFestival. I hope that you will be there next year. I will just have to wait and see.