The 32nd International Kurz(Short)FilmFestival (IKFF) kicked off in the Zeise Kino foyer on a sultry, but dry, Tuesday evening. A small team was kept busy pouring complimentary begrüßen (welcome) drinks, bubbly Sekt (wine) and mineral water. People mingled, meeting and greeting. Filmfest Hamburg’s (FF HH) Albert Wiederspiel and Kathrin Kohlstedde were spotted. Sven Schwarz, co-director of IKFF—ranked globally among the top ten shorts festivals—paused to say hello to Film Group members attending: Becky T., Shelly S., Marinell H., Nancy T., and Doris E., a FF HH industry accredited colleague. Approaching 19:30, the cinema doors opened, attendees streamed in, and once the sound caught up with the festival trailer’s visual people settled down.
The Austrian comedian, Ruth Rockenschaub, was again the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies (MC). Her somber attire reflected the message she pummeled the audience with: The Kulturbehörde (cultural authority) is tightening the screws on available funding. Which is critical to IKFF, and many cultural venues in Hamburg – duh, no surprise considering the indecently over-budget and -schedule Elbe Philharmonic. Ms. Rockenschaub then unhurriedly introduced (yawn) each competition category’s jury members: five categories, thirteen individuals.
Co-directors Sven Schwarz, then Birgit Glombitza, spoke separately about the festival, with persistent interruptions from the MC: she lost the audience early, droning on about IKFF’s tough financial situation. Then KurzFilmAgentur (KFA) Executive Director Alexandra Gramatke expounded on the various divisions under the agency’s umbrella. She and Rockenschaub seemed unaware that both the festival program and website contain this, and more, information. In a stuffy cinema, and with an audience whose patience was stretched by this point, concise would have been better. Throughout, three short films were shown, plus two from the Three-minute Quickie competition – a meager offering from a film festival. More films and shorter talks would have gone a long way with the audience.
Finally back in fresh air, many meandered the approximately 200 meters to IKFF Festivalzentrum’s (festival center) last hall standing of the 100plus-year-old manufacturing complex. Industrious and creative, the festival team constructed containers to accommodate and extend Kolbenhof’s Halle 5 for viewing purposes, and a studio for the Animation Hotline, IKFF’s innovative and imaginative approach for a festival trailer. In honor of Québec, 2016’s focus country, tasty Steinpilzsuppe (mushroom soup) with a slice of baguette and marinated Lachs (salmon) were offered. Serving in the Innenhof (courtyard) with its picnic tables, standing barrels, chairs, and areas to relax, a DJ warmed up in a neighboring room and people lined up to watch films from the viewing platform, as the atmosphere warmed up for the start of a weeklong (cinematic-plus) party.