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Filmfest Hamburg 2015
by Becky Tan

The 23rd annual Filmfest Hamburg played October 1-10,  2015, under the motto “You never know the next time film history will be made.”  English-speakers were happy to find 109 films either in English or with English  sub-titles. There were 13 categories or “sections.” Tickets were available on  line; there were ongoing reports on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

New this year was the category Transatlantik with  eight films from the U.S. and one from Canada. (Naturally, there were more  films from those two countries, just not listed in this category.) We could see  the last film with Robin Williams before he died: Boulevard. There was the teenager film about a girl suffering from  cancer and young friendships called Me  and Earl and the Dying Girl. In Jackson Heights was a long (190 minutes)  but never boring documentary about one neighborhood in Queens, New York City,  NY. Mistress America is the new film  by Noah Baumbach, and there was a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim, a successful supporter of international  contemporary art, especially 1920-1970. Remember touches on both Alzheimer and Jewish suffering during WWII.

Especially popular were the political films which set  off long discussions, even after the film was over. Officially there were 12  political films, although almost all films had some political basis, simply  because they are about human nature. Eleven Chinese films, which were banned  from local Chinese cinemas, showed in the category Asia Express. The  retrospective (older films) category this year was represented by Israel with  films dating 1971-2012. All films were premieres in some way whether world,  European, or German premieres.

This year directors, actors, etc., who appeared for Q  & A after their films, did not have to worry about disposing of the usual  gift of flowers of appreciation. This year, each received a certificate which  stated that the flower money had been donated to Hand in Hand für  Norddeutschland, an organization that supports refugees – a much better idea!

Considering the many, many events in the Festzelt  (white tent) next to Abaton and other sites around Hamburg, it would have been  possible to participate actively without attending a single film. There were  discussions about digitalization, casting, film making, sales, censorship,  literary sources and authorization. TIDE radio/TV station broadcasted live.  There were discussions with directors, producers. There was a grand tour  through Hamburg to acquaint people with possible sites for future films. And  every evening at 20:00 there was an after-show music festival, each one  emphasizing a certain country. Who had time to go to a film?

This was an excellent Filmfest Hamburg. Check it out  in 2016: September 29-October 8.