Just like in movies, the Filmfest Hamburg needed a third jury member to find the winner for the Art Cinema Award and spontaneously Hendrike Bake Indiekino arrived on the scene from Berlin and asked if they could use her expertise. She joined this year’s jury members Andreas Baumann, from Traumpalast in Biberach and Tatjana Simeunoic from Kult.Kino in Basel.
The Art Cinema Award is a CICAE (Conféderatíon Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et Essai) Prize which is annually donated by the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein. The prize of €5,000 is to be used for public relations. In other words the winner of this prize has a good chance that their film will be welcomed at other festivals and cinemas.
Hendrike Bake was born in Kiel, grew up in Bonn and then moved to Berlin. She had done some voluntary work for a year in Brussels with an excellent archive of films and three tiny screens. Since then she had a strong interest in film and realized quickly that it was something you can do on your own. She has a BA in Visual Arts and Theater Studies and has a MA in Film Studies. She created the company Filmaggregate which works with the Art House cinemas and has been a festival director for the English School Film Festival. She is also a member of the Association of the Art House Guild and works in a freelance capacity. She is the owner and editor of INDIE KINO Magazine which is distributed in 20 cinemas in Berlin. She is also responsible for creating the late night movie selection at the Eiszeit Cinema in Berlin.
Hendrike: There are around 300 Art House Cinemas throughout Germany. At the moment the current film market is flooded with films. Approximately 60 films come out each month and if you are running an art cinema, you have to try to see as many of those films as possible to make the selection for your cinema. They have to select films that will produce money and not disappoint their audiences; they look for special programs, for example, the children’s program. And they try to mix mainstream in as well.
Shelly: That is hard to imagine. That means you have to see at least two films a day to see all the films. How does one get on the jury?
H: I was picked last minute as a jury member. First you have to be a member of the association. There are a number of juries for the different festivals and you find out about the positions through an advertisement in the newsletter which is distributed at all the cinemas. If you fill the qualifications then you can apply. You also have to speak German and normally you have to run a cinema which technically I don’t. I was lucky because the Filmfest Hamburg has a disadvantage due to its timing. The festival follows the Venice Film festival which runs August 31 to September 10, as well as the Toronto Film festival September 8 to 18 and the film fair in Leipzig, September 19 to 23. The other problem is that this festival runs ten days and that is a long time period. So I just called up and asked if they needed someone which they did.
S: And the rest is history… So how is it being here at this festival? How is it different to other festivals like the Berlinale?
H: What is wonderful about the Filmfest Hamburg is that they do not have a main competition which normally attracts the Hollywood stars. It is very diverse and has a friendly atmosphere where everyone can talk to each other. They also treat their jury members very well. We have been given the VIP treatment the entire time which also reflects how nice this festival is. It is friendly on all levels. The Filmfest Hamburg is not an A festival premier which means it doesn’t have this glamour factor but instead it collaborates with schools which is also very important.
S: How will the jury pick the winning film? When do you see the film and how do you work as a jury?
H: It is based on artistic achievement, new development, new direction and new content. The prize sends a signal to the other cinemas and festivals that this film has potential to move to a bigger audience and that it is a good film. We have to view fourteen films and we see them all together. Then we discuss the individual film and decide right at that moment what we think about it. We don’t wait until the end and compare all of them. It is an interesting group because Tanya Simeunovic lives in Basel but comes from the former Yugoslavia and has different insights into the east European genre. Andreas Baumann comes from Southern Germany and also has a different perspective but, strangely enough, so far we agree on all the films we have seen and I am sorry to say I can’t tell you what our thoughts were on the various films. (This she says with a grin)