Whether shot with a smartphone or a shaky hand-held camera, Andrea Arnold (*1961) and Sean Baker (*1971) both share an unembellished, yet at the same time empathetic view coupled with great sensitivity for their outsider characters. Thus, FILMFEST HAMBURG brings two distinctive voices of independent cinema from both sides of the Atlantic into a cinematic dialogue with each other at this year’s “Contemporary Cinema in Focus”. In addition to their respective current films, Cow and Red Rocket, earlier works by the two will also be shown in the FILMFEST cinemas. Extensive discussions with the filmmakers will complement the format introduced in 2019.
With Andrea Arnold, an expressly female voice has found its way into the cinema of the socially marginalised. With an unadulterated gaze and raw aesthetics, brutality and beauty are always close together in her films. She won an Oscar for her short film Wasps (UK 2003), and her subsequent feature films have won the Jury Prize several times at Cannes, including her feature debut Red Road (UK, Denmark 2006), Fish Tank (Netherlands, UK 2009) and American Honey (UK, USA 2016), her first production in the US. The latter has already screened at FILMFEST HAMBURG, and now two more of Arnold’s films are being revived as 35mm prints: Red Road is a quiet, almost meditative psychological thriller in the tradition of British social drama, in which an employee of Glasgow’s municipal CCTV re-encounters a face from her past. Wuthering Heights (UK 2011) is a remake of the 19th-century literary classic, featuring street-cast actresses. Arnold’s latest work marks her first documentary. In Cow (Great Britain 2021), she follows the life of a dairy cow with a precise eye. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The film talk with Andrea Arnold will take place on 1 October following the screening of Cow at CinemaxX 3.
Sean Baker’s films also deal with marginalised figures – his attention is focused on those for whom the promise of the American Dream has not come true. His stories are often based around characters from the red light milieu or the porn industry: Starlet (USA 2012) tells the unusual friendship between a young woman who occasionally works as a porn actress and an old lady. In Tangerine L.A. (USA 2015), which was shot entirely with an iPhone, a transgender prostitute chases through the streets of L.A. in search of her pimp, for whom she has served a month in prison. FILMFEST HAMBURG brings these two films – that made Baker famous – back to the big screen. In 2017 FILMFEST HAMBURG screened The Florida Project (USA 2017), which won numerous awards. With his latest film, Red Rocket (USA 2021), Baker remains true to his line: In this film, an ex-porn star returns to his hometown in Texas and attempts a new start as an entrepreneur. Red Rocket celebrated its premiere as a competition entry in Cannes this year.
The digital bar talk with Sean Baker will be available here.
The films at a glance
Contemporary cinema in focus: Andrea Arnold
Great Britain 2021
Great Britain 2011
Great Britain, Denmark 2006
Contemporary cinema in focus: Sean Baker
FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 30 September to 9 October 2021. Around 100 productions from all over the world will be shown as European, German or Hamburg premieres. Festival cinemas are the Abaton, CinemaxX Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage and the Studio-Kino. The complete programme will be announced on 14 September, advance ticket sales start on 16 September.