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Director: Audrey Diwan

France 2021


Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

France, Germany, Belgium, Chad 2021


Director: Bogdan George Apetri

Romania, Czech Republic, Latvia 2021

Small Body

Director: Laura Samani

France, Italy, Slovenia 2021

On The Job: The Missing 8

Director: Erik Matti

Philippines 2021

High Maintenance – The Life and Work of Dani Karavan

Director: Barak Heymann

Israel, Poland 2020

Hotel Europa

Director: Thorsten M. Schmidt

Germany 2021

The Story of My Wife

Director: Ildikó Enyedi

Hungary, Germany, Italy, France 2021

Looking back to the future

FILMFEST HAMBURG announces its complete programme




Films from the most important international festivals in Cannes, Locarno and Venice will celebrate their German premieres at FILMFEST HAMBURG, including the book adaptation Happening, which recently won the Golden Lion in Venice, the Locarno-winning film Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, as well as the Jury Prize winner of “Un Certain Regard” Great Freedom, which will open FILMFEST HAMBURG on 30 September. A total of 110 feature-length films from 57 countries are on the programme. The closing film is Jacques Audiard’s love story Paris, 13th District about the lives and loves of four young people in contemporary Paris. This year’s Douglas Sirk Prize goes to the French director Leos Carax, who will present his opening film Annette in Hamburg, which was highly acclaimed in Cannes.


New cinematic views


Back when Leos Carax was a child, it was enough to “dive into the darkness of cinema to get to know the whole world”. FILMFEST HAMBURG shows films from 57 production countries and delves into regions and states that are not so often found on the cinematic map, such as the three African films from Chad (Lingui by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun), from Djibouti (The Gravedigger’s Wife by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed) and from Cameroon (Bikers by Narcisse Wandji). The cinematic wonderland Romania is represented with three films: Bogdan George Apetri reinvents the detective thriller with Miracle while sending his inspector to a monastery; in Intregalde, Radu Muntean spins a biting social commentary on the urban-rural divide in Romania and borrows from B-horror films; and with Poppy Field, Eugen Jebeleanu tells of the dilemma of a gay policeman in a homophobic society. Two films from Russia are on the programme: Alexander Zeldovich adapts the classical tragedy of Medea as a contemporary but also timeless variation, while seasoned master Andrei Konchalovsky recalls the bloody suppression of a workers’ uprising in Novocherkassk in 1962 in his film Dear Comrades!.


Sending memories to the future


In this year’s FILMFEST programme, the filmmakers have created their own time capsules, asking questions about the future and looking at images from the past from today’s perspective. For example, Kenneth Branagh and Paolo Sorrentino look back on their childhood and youth in Ireland and Italy in their films Belfast and The Hand of God, which won the Silver Lion in Venice last weekend. The directors Laura Samani and Audrey Diwan focus on the desire for self-determination as a woman in an archaic Christian society in 19th century Friuli (Piccolo Corpo) and in 1960s France, when abortion was still punishable. The Golden Lion winner Happening is based on a book by Annie Ernaux, currently published in German under the title “Das Ereignis”. In an oppressive retrospect, the film points to the relevance of the topic today, as the new legislation in Poland or Texas is currently demonstrating. In the film Futura, filmmakers Pietro Marcello, Alice Rohrwacher and Francesco Munzi look ahead and collectively portray Italian youths as they grapple with questions about the future. Their thoughts are complemented with archive footage of earlier reports and documentaries by older generations of young people. The restored version of the 1983 film Tscherwonez by Gábor Altorjay makes it possible to re-examine the images of the future that were part of the New Wave satire at the time. The films Vortex by Gaspar Noé and Quiet Freedom by Wendla Nölle are cinematic reflections on relationships, age(ing), dealing with illness and saying goodbye. No One’s With the Calves by Sabrina Sarabi is about dreams of the future beyond the confines of the village. Saskia Rosendahl was awarded Best Actress in Locarno for her role as Christin. The opening and closing films also span a period of time: While this year’s opening film Great Freedom by Sebastian Meise deals with unfree love in post-war Germany, Jacques Audiard’s closing film Paris, 13th District is a testimony to current life plans and a plea for freedom and multifaceted self-determined love in the 21st century.


Films from Asia


The “Asia Express” section features two debut films by Chinese women directors, All About My Sisters and Virgin Blue, which deal with family memories in formally different ways. In the documentary All About My Sisters, Wang Qiong shows how the one-child policy left deep scars in families, including her own, that continue to have an impact today. In the feature film Virgin Blue, memories come to life between granddaughter and grandmother. In addition to intimate glimpses of family structures, “Asia Express” presents idiosyncratic genre cinema: The epic political thriller On The Job: The Missing 8 by Erik Matti tackles the issue of rampant corruption in the Philippines. Actor John Arcilla received the Coppa Volpi for Best Leading Actor in Venice last weekend. In the partly Hamburg-produced and funded winning film from Locarno, Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Edwin, a belligerent macho man with erectile dysfunction is put in his place by a woman in a fight.


Contemporary cinema in focus


This year’s portrait artists Sean Baker and Andrea Arnold both share an unembellished yet empathetic view on their characters – mostly outsiders of contemporary society. In her latest film Cow, Andrea Arnold focuses on a dairy cow. The British director is a guest in Hamburg and will give an extensive film talk following the film premiere. In addition, her earlier works Wuthering Heights and Red Road will be screened in 35mm at Metropolis Kino. Sean Baker, whose stories are often based around characters from the red light milieu or the porn industry, stays true to this line with Red Rocket. In it, an ex-porn star returns to his hometown in Texas and attempts a new start as an entrepreneur. Other films by the director in this year’s programme are Tangerine and Starlet. The detailed interview with Sean Baker, who cannot come to Hamburg, is available digitally on the FILMFEST website.


1700 years of Jewish life in Germany


This year, Jews have been living in Germany for 1700 years. Under the name #2021JLID – Jewish Life in Germany, numerous events are on the programme in the year of celebration to make Jewish life visible and tangible. As part of this initiative, FILMFEST HAMBURG, in cooperation with Jüdischer Salon am Grindel e.V., will show the documentary film by Niko Apel We Are All German Jews. In it, the filmmaker asks about Jewish identity and accompanies the former student leader and former Green Party politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit on a very personal journey to Israel. After the screenings on 3 October at 3 p.m. at CinemaxX 1 and on 4 October at 7.30 p.m. at the Hapag-Lloyd headquarters, there will be a film discussion with Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Another film in this thematic series is Evolution: theatre, opera and film director Kornél Mundruczó and his screenwriter Kata Wéber ask themselves what it means to be Jewish today and draw on their own family experiences in their drama, which they present in person.


Portraits of artists


Three documentaries approach visual artists and a composer in different ways: In Harald Naegeli – The Zurich Sprayer, filmmaker Nathalie David, who lives in Hamburg, portrays a controversial artist who caused a stir in Zurich in the 1970s with his graffiti. After serving his prison sentence and spending years in Düsseldorf, the 81-year-old returned to Zurich and sprayed more than 50 “dances of death” during the first lockdown. The canton sued him, the city awarded him the Grand Art Prize. The film High Maintenance – The Life and Work of Dani Karavan is about the Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan. Barak Heymann follows the sculptor on a turbulent journey and shows a man who refuses to be forgotten. Dani Karavan left behind more than 100 urban installations when he died last May at the age of 90, including the memorial to the murdered Sinti and Roma in Berlin. In his first documentary film GLOBAL WAGNER – From Bayreuth to the World, Axel Brüggemann approaches the composer Richard Wagner. It is less about the person than about the Wagner cult in all its facets and around the globe. Aline, the Voice of Love is a fictional portrait of a female artist: inspired by the life and love story of pop icon Céline Dion, Valérie Lemercier, who also plays the lead role, has dedicated a sparkling homage to her idol.


Hamburg filmmaking & industry events


FILMFEST HAMBURG shows cross-section films that were promoted, shot and produced in Hamburg and in the North, including from the section “Kaleidoskop” The Stranger (production: Red Balloon) and German Lessons (production: Heimathafen Film), in the section “Voilà” France (production: Red Balloon), in “Große Freiheit” No One’ s With the Calves (production: Weydemann & Bros. ) in “Asia Express” Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (production: Bombero International and The Match Factory) and in “Televisionen” The Protector (production: Wüste Medien), The Air to Breathe (production: Network Movie) and Kranitz (production: Florida Film). The Story of My Wife (production: Komplizen Film) was also shot and promoted against the backdrop of Hamburg. A condensed and even more intensive insight into Hamburg filmmaking is offered by the section “Hamburger Filmschau” with contributions by Peter Sempel (Jonas in the Fields), Julian Radlmaier (Bloodsuckers), Gisela Tuchtenhagen and Margot Neubert-Maric (Für nichts und wieder nichts), among others.


The FILMFEST HAMBURG event programme once again offers a variety of formats and topics.In addition to the bar talks with Andrea Arnold and Sean Baker, the main association Cinephilie in cooperation with MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein invites you to “The Cinephile Quartet”: Here the author and journalist Hatice Akyün, the musician Andreas Dorau and the rapper Sookee meet and discuss three films from the current programme. Other events, which will take place on site at the CinemaxX and will also be broadcast on the FILMFEST YouTube channel, will be dedicated to topics such as inclusion, creative cooperation, German film abroad and young filmmakers. The German Film Academy and MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein will explain the use of an inclusion rider using the example of the crime film Schattenleben. (“Practice Test Inclusion Rider – How does diversity work by contract?” 06.10.2021, 2 p.m.). The question of why German film receives little international attention and is not represented at international festivals will be discussed by, among others, director Feo Aladag, the managing director of German Films, Simone Baumann, and film editor Andrew Bird (“Aspiration and Reality: Why Does German Film Play No Role Internationally?” 5.10.2021 11 a.m.).  The VDD Association of German Screenwriters and the Screenplay Section of the German Film Academy ask about concrete criteria for constructive teamwork to create more quality for cinema and television (“Course for Quality? Material Development between Crash in the Shipyard and Conquest of the Oceans”, 4.10.2021 11 a.m.). The panel “Promoting Young Talent – An Investment in the Future of the Film Industry” in cooperation with European Film Promotion (7.10.2021, 11 a.m.) will deal with the significance of talent promotion in Europe.

The “Explorer Conference” (08.10.2021, 1 – 7 p.m.) will take place for the second time. Together with the Produzentenverband e.V., MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and FILMFEST HAMBURG, the all-day international industry event will discuss future perspectives of film production with renowned speakers.


Awards, juries & partners


After a one-year break, FILMFEST HAMBURG will this year award prize money in the total amount of 130,000 euros, including the Hamburg Producer Award for German Cinema Productions and the Hamburg Producer Award for International Cinema Co-Productions, each endowed with 25,000 euros, donated by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Further prizes are the Hamburg Producer Award for German Television Productions, donated by the Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten (VFF), as well as the Special Prize for Serial Formats, also awarded by the VFF, the Sichtwechsel Film Prize, the Commerzbank Audience Award, Der Politische Film of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the MICHEL Film Prize, donated by the Körber Foundation, the Art Cinema Award, the NDR Young Talent Award and the Film Critics’ Award.

FILMFEST HAMBURG has once again been able to recruit renowned directors, producers, actors and other cultural professionals to act as jury members and decide on the prize winners in the various sections of the festival, among them the founder of the European Film Market in Berlin, Beki Probst from Switzerland, the Iranian director Shirin Barghnavard, the Iranian cinematographer, director and producer Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah, the actress Luise Wolfram, the director Max Zähle and the producer Lisa Blumenberg.

The main sponsor of FILMFEST HAMBURG is the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Long-term partners include the Deutsche Fernsehlotterie, Hapag-Loyd AG, the Grand Elysée Hotel, the Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut, MOIA, Studio Hamburg as well as NDR and ARTE.

FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 30 September to 9 October 2021. The programme booklet will be available with the start of advance sales from 16 September, ticket sales in the festival cinemas and Levantehaus will also start on 16 September.


Covid Regulations


For the film screenings in the festival cinemas and in the “Filmfest ums Eck” cinemas, the 3G rule currently applies.

Covid Regulations

Sponsors and Partners