31. FILMFEST HAMBURG
Defy and question – the film programme 2023
12. September 2023
FILMFEST HAMBURG opens on 28 September with the Jordanian film Inshallah a Boy by Amjad Al Rasheed and ends on 7 October with the Swedish contribution Paradise is Burning by Mika Gustafson. For the second time, the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival will be hosting its national competition with seven feature-length films in the Hanseatic city. This year’s Douglas Sirk Award winner is Sandra Hüller, who will be awarded on 30 September before the German premiere of Anatomy of a Fall. Guests are expected to attend 93 films, including Catherine Breillat, Wim Wenders, Bertrand Bonello, Alice Rohrwacher, Ken Loach and Mads Mikkelsen. During the festival, meeting points for festival visitors, FILMFEST guests and the public are the MOIN FILMFEST CAFÉ in the CinemaxX Dammtor and the FILMFEST BAR/Kasematte20, Alsterglacis 20-21.
In his last year as festival director, Albert Wiederspiel and his programme team have made a special selection of films: A total of 132 feature-length films from 48 production countries are on the programme, 25 cinema and television films are celebrating their world premiere in Hamburg. With Poor Things, Evil Does Not Exist, Priscilla and the closing film Paradise Is Burning, four of the films awarded in Venice at the weekend will be shown at FILMFEST HAMBURG. For Wiederspiel, curating comes first. With a well thought-out film selection, an unmistakable signature, a necessary classification and contextualisation of the contributions and, of course, with the guests who personally present their films on site, he wants to inspire the Hamburg audience and, in times of a cultural and media over-supply, take into account the desire for classification.
Well-known names & FILMFEST returnees
The films selected for this year’s programme, both by experienced directors and debut filmmakers, have their own signature, they question stereotypes and tell reality differently. They challenge the cinema audience and take the viewers seriously. Well-known names and FILMFEST returnees with an unmistakable film language include Yorgos Lanthimos, who tells a fabulous and fantastic feminist Frankenstein variation with Poor Things, or Xavier Dolan, who convinces with his first series The Night Logan Woke Up. At FILMFEST HAMBURG, all five episodes will be shown one after the other, also to underline that serial storytelling is deliberately used as a stylistic device and that the format can do more than fulfil market needs. The programme also includes the latest films by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (About Dry Grasses) and by Ken Loach (The Old Oak). Richard Linklater, one of the most important representatives of American Independent Cinema, tells a casually funny film with a lot of fun in genre in Hit Man, Todd Haynes tells a love story with masterful dialogue in May December, and French director icon Catherine Breillat has taken on the remake of the Danish production Queen of Hearts with Last Summer. Radu Jude’s latest film Do Not Expect Too Much From The End of The World takes a critical look at the world of work, including exploitation in the “gig economy” in the age of social media, and Sofia Coppola succeeds with Priscilla, an impressive biopic about Priscilla Presley. Two grand masters of German cinema are also guests with their new works: Wim Wenders with the documentary Anselm and his Japanese film Perfect Day, and Dominik Graf, who as a director always alternates between ambitious TV projects and trailblazing cinema films, with the TV film Mein Falke.
Strong Debuts & Politically Relevant Topics
FILMFEST HAMBURG is screening 15 debut films this year, including Shayda, based on the childhood experiences of Iranian-Australian director Noora Niasari, and starring Zar Amir Ebrahimi, well known from Holy Spider. In How To Have Sex, British director Molly Manning Walker tells a coming-of-age story about societal expectations and female desire. The film was awarded the Grand Prize in the “Un Certain Regard” section at the Cannes Festival. Another debut is celebrated by Voodoo Jürgens: In the melancholic-humorous father-son story Rickerl – Musik is höchstens a Hobby, the Austrian singer-songwriter plays a leading role in a film for the first time. Voodoo Jürgens is a guest in Hamburg and will open the FILMFEST BAR/Kasematte20 with a musical programme on Friday, 29 September, from 10.30 pm.
Power Alley by Lillah Halla is about female self-determination in a Brazil increasingly influenced by evangelicals. The debut work will be shown in the “Veto!” section and is nominated along with six other titles for the Political Award of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, including the film essay After Work, in which documentary filmmaker Erik Gandini sketches a vision of a future in which the role of work must be renegotiated socially and individually.
Films from Asia
The theme of work is also the subject of Wang Bing’s new film Youth (Spring), which captures everyday life in Chinese garment factories between production capacities, youthful exuberance and rebellion against working conditions. In addition to films by well-known and established directors such as Wim Wenders, who tells about the life of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo in Perfect Days, and Hong Sangsoo, who presents what is probably his most autobiographical film with a reflection on artistic work In Our Day, the “Asia Express” section also features strong debut films. Nicole Midori Woodford’s Last Shadow at First Light is a sensitive ghost story about the search for traces of the family past, and Pham Thien Am’s Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, which won Best Debut at Cannes, is about a mystical pilgrimage through Vietnam’s hinterland, which is dominated by the Christian minority. Japanese cinema is a focus of this year’s section, reflecting the renaissance of filmmaking there. At the heart of this development is filmmaker Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, who, following his Oscar win last year for Drive My Car, has almost unnoticed the completion of his next obstinate film about the depths of the psyche and the imponderables of human action, Evil Does Not Exist.
Contemporary cinema in focus
This year’s two filmmakers in focus Alice Rohrwacher and Bertrand Bonello have uncompromisingly pursued their cinematic visions since their very beginnings, which are thematically marked by the fusion of reality and fiction. While Rohrwacher, who was born in Italy with roots in Hamburg, brings together mythology, religion and folk culture in a synaesthetic way, French director Bertrand Bonello’s clarity of visual language and statements on politically topical issues make up his unmistakable and yet always new narrative style. His latest film, The Beast, tells the story of artificial intelligence, love and social upheavals of the respective epoch in a mixture of love melodrama and science fiction dystopia on three time levels. In addition to The Beast, FILMFEST HAMBURG will also show Nocturama (2016), about the revolt of a group of young people in Paris, and Saint Laurent (2014), about the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, marked by art, affairs and his drug addiction. The talk with Bertrand Bonello will take place on 3 October before the screening of Saint Laurent at 2 pm at Metropolis.
Alongside her latest film La Chimera about the eternal search and pursuit of love and happiness, Alice Rohrwacher presents two other films that link individual destinies with social challenges and tell stories from the perspectives of adolescent girls. In Rohrwacher’s debut film Corpo Celeste (2011), a 13-year-old girl searches for more than a small Calabrian town offers her and finds herself confronted with religion and provincial customs. With bees, criminal youths and left-wing idealism, a 14-year-old wants to save the family beekeeping business with the help of trash TV in Land of Wonders (2014). The talk with Alice Rohrwacher will take place after the screening of Corpo Celeste on 2 October at 8 pm at Metropolis.
German Cinema & Hamburg Filmmaking
Seven German cinema films are nominated for the Hamburg Producers’ Award in the section “Große Freiheit”. The selected films stand for a broader view beyond typical German viewing habits, for independence and new ways of telling stories, for a cinema that can compete with the other selected films in the programme and also hold its own on an international level. With Tim The Theory of Everything, a German film entered this year’s Venice Competition. Katharina Huber’s feature debut A Good Place was screened – like Katharina Lüdin’s debut film Of Living Without Illusion – at the Locarno Festival and was awarded the prize for best director in the “Concorso Cineasti del presente” competition. Actress Aylin Tezel’s directorial debut speaks the language of millennials: Falling Into Place is a poetic love drama and a precise portrait of today’s 30-year-olds. In Kanwal Sethi’s drama What Remains of Love, a couple’s life and love is questioned after the violent death of their wife. Michael Klier’s intense generational portrait Between Us the River was made in close consultation with the two main actresses Lena Urzendowsky and Kotti Yun, who contributed ideas for dialogue and scenic sequences, among others. In the hybrid film Life Is Not a Competition, But I’m Winning, Julia Fuhr Mann questions the stereotypical gender relations in competitive sport. The films Anselm by Wim Wenders and Hans Steinbichler’s adaptation of Robert Seethaler’s novel “Ein ganzes Leben” will be shown out of competition.
FILMFEST HAMBURG shows films that were funded, shot, produced and post-produced in Hamburg and the North, including the animated film Sultana’s Dream (production: Fabian&Fred), Maret (Red Balloon Film), The Lesson, The Promised Land and Désert as well as About Dry Grasses from the “Kaleidoskop” section, Total Trust (Filmank) from the section “Veto! (Filmtank), from the section “Televisionen” the series Die Quellen des Bösen (production: Wüste Medien) and Last Exit Schinkenstraße and from the section “Große Freiheit” the film Of Living Without Illusion.
A condensed and even more intensive insight into Hamburg filmmaking is offered by the “Hamburg Film Show” section, this year with entries by Hamburg filmmakers such as Sven Halfar with his film Heaven Can Wait – Wir leben jetzt about a 70-plus choir, or by directors who have studied in Hamburg such as Pia Lenz, who made a poetic film about a long love affair with Für immer (Forever), as well as films about Hamburg such as Wonderland by Sabine Howe about the two founders of the Miniature Wonderland in the Speicherstadt and Die Unsichtbaren (The Invisible Ones) by Matthias Freier about his stepmother, who was the first Hamburg detective superintendent in the 1980s and 90s and was at the head of the Hamburg SOKO to catch the acid killer. In No Crew Call (Ein Mann – Eine Branche – (K)eine Krise) Michael Söth portrays Lars “Vegas” Ide, who has been working as a tour and production manager in the Hamburg music industry for over 30 years.
Television films on the big screen
Ten films and four series are competing this year for the Hamburg Producer Award, which is endowed with 25,000 and 10,000 euros respectively, sponsored by the VFF – Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film und Fernsehproduzenten mbH. Among them are new works by Lars Becker, Dominik Graf, Bjarne Mädel, Ute Wieland or Niki Stein, as well as by younger talents such as Martina Plura, Joanna Vogdt, Dustin Loose or David Clay Diaz. The fact that compulsory school reading, transposed to the present day, can still be topical is proven by Die Flut – Tod am Deich based on Theodor Storm’s “Der Schimmelreiter” (The White Horse Rider), freely adapted in the novel “Hauke Haiens Tod” (Hauke Haien’s Death) by Robert Habeck and Andrea Paluch. Dominik Graf is represented with Mein Falke: An intense encounter with a bird of prey sets in motion a psychological process in a woman that confronts her with unresolved experiences in her childhood. Anne Ratte-Polle plays the leading role. The six-part RTL+ mini-series Die Quellen des Bösen (The Sources of Evil), starring Henriette Confurius and Fahri Yardim as an unequal team of investigators, is about an unresolved series of murders in the German-German border region, set in the post-reunification period of the early 1990s. Stefan Rick is the director. The Amazon Prime miniseries Last Exit Schinkenstraße with Heinz Strunk and Marc Hosemann is about an odd musical couple. After being thrown out of their Hamburg band, a saxophonist and a trumpeter try to build a new existence on Mallorca in Schinkenstraße, the epicentre of the party scene there.
Films for young cinema-goers
The MICHEL Children’s and Youth Film Festival – an integral part of FILMFEST HAMBURG since 2003 and this year for the first time at the Studio Kino – will open on 29 September with the film Die unlangweiligste Schule der Welt (Director: Ekrem Ergün). Together with this film, eight other films will compete for the new MICHEL Film Award MAJA, which is endowed with 10,000 euros. From this year on, the prize is donated by Hamburg cinema owner Hans-Peter Jansen and will be awarded by the MICHEL jury of children and young people on 6 October. Other films in the competition are Sharp Wounds from Mexico, Scrapper from the United Kingdom, Big Dreams from the Czech Republic, the animated film Chicken for Linda! from France, Totem from the Netherlands, Mimi from Slovakia and Mother Land from Korea. The German final film Thabo – Das Nashorn Abenteuer, based on the popular children’s book series “Thabo, Detective and Gentleman” by Kirsten Boie, is also nominated for the MICHEL Film Award MAJA.
Most of the films will be shown in the original version and dubbed into German live in the cinema. Out of competition, two new episodes of Pfefferkörner and the “series for minis”, an educationally guided short film programme for children from the age of four, will be presented again this year. In cooperation with the Mo&Friese Young Short Film Festival, this year’s Friese Award winner The Pebble Hill will be shown in the MICHEL programme.
Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival
For the second time, the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival will present its national competition of Ukrainian feature films at FILMFEST HAMBURG. The selected films mainly deal with the 1990s: Either the plot is set in that time or the present is derived from the past. It is a glimpse into the not so long history of Ukraine as an independent state – and the attempt of Ukrainians to rediscover or (re)construct their identity after hundreds of years of Soviet and Russian oppression. The festival will open on 29 September with the film Forever-Forever (directed by Anna Buryachkova). Other feature-length films competing for the $3,500 Scythian Deer Award are Do You Love Me/Directed by Tonia Noyabrova, How Is Katia/Directed by Christina Tynkevych, La Palisiada/Directed by Philip Sotnychenko, Lucky Girl/Directed by Marrysia Nikitiukt, Luxembourg, Luxembourg/Directed by Antonio Lukich and Rock.Paper.Grenade/Directed by Iryna Tsilyk. The festival will close with the documentary Ukrainian Independence. As It Is., which will be screened out of competition.
Awards, Juries & Partners
One award winner has already been chosen: Sandra Hüller will receive the Douglas Sirk Award on 30 September. The award ceremony will take place on the occasion of the German premiere of this year’s Golden Palm winning film Anatomy of a Fall by Justine Triet at the CinemaxX Dammtor. Sandra Hüller is the second German actress after Nina Hoss to be awarded the Douglas Sirk Award. This year, FILMFEST HAMBURG will grant a total of 115,000 euros in prize money, including the Hamburg Producer Award for German Cinema Productions, endowed with 25,000 euros each, and the Hamburg Producer Award for International Cinema Co-Productions, donated by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Further prizes are the Hamburg Producers’ Award for German Television Productions, endowed with 25,000 euros and sponsored by the Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten (VFF), as well as the Special Award for Serial Formats, also sponsored by the VFF, worth 10,000 euros. 000 euros, the Political Film Award of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation worth 5,000 euros, the NDR Young Talent Award (5,000 euros), the Art Cinema Award (5,000 euros), the non-endowed Film Critics’ Prize and the FILMFEST HAMBURG PUBLIC AWARD donated by the Hapag-Lloyd Foundation (5,000 euros). For the first time, the new MICHEL Film Award MAJA will be awarded in the amount of 10,000 euros, donated by the cinema operator Hans-Peter Jansen. The Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival will present the Scythian Deer Award, endowed with 3,500 dollars, for the best feature film of their festival. The jury is made up of the actress Alina Levshin, the director Other jury members who will decide on the winners of the festival include directors Hans-Christian Schmid, Arne Feldhusen, Nele Wohlatz and Carolin Genreith, actors Thelma Buabeng and Alexander Simon, the chairwoman of the DGB in Hamburg, Tanja Chawla, and university professor and journalist Christian Stöcker.
FILMFEST HAMBURG INDUSTRY DAYS
The FILMFEST HAMBURG INDUSTRY DAYS will start on 2 October with an extensive supporting programme for accredited trade visitors. At the beginning, director Dominik Graf will introduce the first main topic with a “jerk speech” for young German filmmakers. Until 6 October, keynotes, panels, workshops and closed formats will discuss topics including: Promotion of young filmmakers, depiction of violence on FLINTA*, demand for a contemporary image of women in film and television, promotion of film material for female protagonists 60+, diversity & intersectionality, green producing as well as the topic of rights retention, which is important for independent producers. The full-day EXPLORER CONFERENCE with national and international speakers will focus on current industry topics. Accreditation centre and meeting point for professionals and festival visitors is the MOIN FILMFEST CAFÉ at CinemaxX Dammtor in cooperation with MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein. The FILMFEST HAMBURG INDUSTRY DAYS are supported by the Studio Hamburg Group and Chaussee SoundVision GmbH.
With FILMFEST HAMBURG #ATELIER23 the festival offers for the second time a creative working and dialogue space for film students from Germany with international debut filmmakers whose films are screened at FILMFEST HAMBURG. FILMFEST HAMBURG #ATELIER 23 is supported by Studio Funk, Insitut Français, The Post Republic/Electric Sheep and this year also by MOIN Filmförde-rung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein.
The FILMFEST HAMBURG INDUSTRY DAYS will close on 6 October with the EXPLORER CONFERENCE, which will address various topics related to producing for cinema and TV in different formats. In more than twelve programme slots, German and international speakers will provide insights into their work and strategies and impart future-oriented knowledge. With “Highlight Sweden”, a European guest country will be the focus of the programme for the first time. Speakers from Sweden will travel to Hamburg with case studies, trend analyses and contributions to the debate. A delegation of Swedish conference participants is also expected. The Swedish Film Institute is the partner of this format. The EXPLORER CONFERENCE will take place on 6 October on two stages at the Katholische Akademie Hamburg in cooperation with the Producers’ Association and with the support of MOIN Filmförderung. Participation in the EXPLORER CONFERENCE is only possible with prior ticket booking. POISON is responsible for the production of the conference. Further partners are Letterbox Filmproduktion, UFA, EAVE, Future of Film and MTH Conference.
Sponsors & Supporters
FILMFEST HAMBURG is sponsored and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg as well as by the loyal main partners Deutsche Fernsehlotterie, Hapag-Lloyd Stiftung, Studio Hamburg Gruppe, Grand Elysee Hotel and the mobility partner MOIA. Further sponsors are the Karin and Walter Blüchert Memorial Foundation, ARTE, the main media partner NDR and 60 other partners, sponsors and supporters. For the implementation of the national competition of the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival, FILMFEST HAMBURG receives support from the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg as well as from the Senate Chancellery within the framework of the Pact for Solidarity and Future Kyiv Hamburg. The civilsociety-initiated “ART CONNECTS – Aid Fund for Projects with Cultural Workers in Need of Protection” and Hamburg Marketing GmbH also provide significant support for the festival.
Farewell & New Beginning
The 31st Filmfest Hamburg is Albert Wiederspiel’s last festival edition, with which he bids farewell after 21 years, two cultural senators and three women cultural senators in his tenure and more than 4,000 selected films. The reality at the beginning of his task as festival director was different than now, 20 years later. The immense cultural offer, the “eventisation” of culture, the emergence of streaming platforms, concerns about the climate – all these factors determine the present and future festival work, to which FILMFEST HAMBURG has already reacted and will have to react in the coming years. Albert Wiederspiel has always been able to rely on the Department of Culture and Media, “which has never interfered with the programme and has always had our backs”. Albert Wiederspiel wishes his successor Malika Rabahallah “lots of Carsten Brosda”.
FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 28 September to 7 October 2023. Over 120 productions from all over the world will be shown as world, European, German or Hamburg premieres. Festival cinemas are the Abaton, Alabama Kino, CinemaxX Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage and the Studio Kino. Advance booking starts on 14 September.