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Opening of the Michel Film Festival
by Pat Frickey

Enthusiastic young filmgoers and their parents packed the Abaton Cinema on Friday, September 30, to see the opening film of the children’s/youth’s film festival MIA SCHLÄFT WOANDERS (Siv Solver Vilse) . An engaging moderator Julia (Römling) introduced her guests including festival director Albert Wiederspiel, who was especially soft spoken and charming. Julia spent even longer introducing and speaking to the eight young moderators and the seven youthful jury members. These local movie fans received recognition as valuable and integral contributors to the Michel Film Festival; they were the presenters and the decision makers. It was refreshing to witness the democratization of a film festival and a guarantee that many present at the opening will most likely be film festival goers for life.

Julia explained that a number of films presented had been chosen by LUCAS (Frankfurt’s international children’s festival). She gave a preview of some of the films including a clip of the eventual winner FANNY’S REISE. She got a very lively response when announcing autographs by the stars of the TV series and now the film Die Pfefferkörner. Many events were planned. Also, something new had been added to the festival this year: Geocaching. Keeping up with the times the youth of Hamburg could download an app for this digital treasure hunt. Julia said no adults were allowed to participate, not even a very willing Albert.

The opening filmm the Swedish MIA SCHLÄFT WOANDERS (directed byCatti Edfeldt and Lena Hanno Clyne) was suited more for the younger members of the audience. Based on the book by Pija Lindenbaum little Mia spends the night at her flamboyant friend Cerisa’s home, and very spooky things happen. It’s a bit Alice in Wonderland mixed with Night at the Museum with a sprinkling of Pippi Longstocking. The film was in the original Swedish, with English subtitles, and voiced over by Marion (Gretchen Schmitz). Marion had a very pleasing voice and somehow made it all work. However it was annoying that the main character in the original was named Siv and not Mia which became so glaring no matter how well Marion read. The movie dragged a bit in the middle as the plot was taken from a rather thin children’s forty page picture book. However the ending of the film was especially pleasing to the young audience when timid Mia gained confidence and became quite the spunky personality Astrid Lindgren would have adored.