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On Location in Hamburg Harbor
by Coppelia Hays Branscheid

An established tradition of the Filmförderung Hamburg (Hamburg Film Commission) office is the detailed location tour of the Hamburg Harbor and its surroundings during the Filmfest Hamburg. This was efficiently coordinated by Christiane Scholz and Alexandra Luetkens. On Sunday noon we met at the City Sporthafen and boarded the “Anita Ehlers”. Approximately 130 people proceeded to take in the sights of the Speicherstadt, the historic warehouse district, and the new HafenCity, which is currently under construction. Did you know that Hamburg’s oldest storage, established in 1878/79, is being incorporated into the International Navy and Oceanic Museum? Although its architectural foundation will not be changed, its expansion through the addition of a striking glass cube is planned.

We then proceeded east towards the Billwerder Bucht, passing the industrial area with its shipyards and yacht harbors and then to the Spreehafen with its houseboats. The SeHHafen company is located here, and it aims to conserve historical harbor buildings as well as support the houseboat culture as in London and Amsterdam. Houseboats are restored with their original parts and also equipped with modern technology. All these areas provide ideal elements to be considered as potential shooting locations. One such location is the historical U-434 submarine which belonged for 30 years to the Russian armada and was used for numerous spying missions (i.e. along the east coast of the U.S.A.). As we approached the west free harbor, the traditional container and shipping terminals came into view. We were informed that security measures are moderate, thus allowing film productions directly onto the pier with their equipment and vehicles. This was followed by the astonishing glowing silver, egg-shaped towers of the wastewater treatment plant, a unique location to shoot. On our return, we passed the enormous dock facilities of Blohm + Voss, the traditional fish market and the Landungsbrücken, thus reaching the end of our delightful tour.

All were favorably impressed, and, although the Latin American film directors around me probably won’t be coming to film in Hamburg, others at our table, such as Magnolia Filmproduction, who produced Süperseks, definitely benefited from the experience. We feasted our eyes on the sights and our mouths on the delightful treats available. At our end of the table was constant chatter in Spanish interspersed with animated laughter, and unfortunately, as I later found out, we appeared so lively that no one dared to intrude.

It is our sincere hope that the Filmförderung Hamburg will continue to fill its important niche even with the drastic cutbacks it has suffered this year, when the Hamburg Senate cut funding in half, from seven million to only three and a half million euro. Notwithstanding, they are actively showing a continued presence in the national and international arena and refuse “to be paralyzed” by the recent funding cuts. We thank them for their marvelous hospitality and a triumphant location tour and hope to be invited aboard again next year.