26.9. - 5.10.2019

Moving worlds

This year, FILMFEST HAMBURG will be screening 138 films from 57 countries – some of which were award-winners at Sundance, Cannes, Locarno and Venice. The festival will open with Benedikt Erlingsson’s Woman at War, an arty, quick-witted Icelandic comedy about a courageous woman locked in a battle with the local aluminium lobby. The closing film will be Loro, Paolo Sorrentino’s colourful biopic on former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The recipient of the Douglas Sirk Award will be Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who was sentenced to a 20-year work and travel ban in 2010. Prior to the German premiere of Panahi’s newest film, Three Faces, his daughter Solmaz Panahi and the film’s star Behnaz Jafari will accept the award in Hamburg on his behalf.

Iranian cinema has been a staple at FILMFEST HAMBURG since 2001. The festival has screened works by Abbas Kiarostami, Abofazl Jalili, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjui, Ashgar Farhadi and Mohammad Rasoulof (who has developed a close relationship with Hamburg in the intervening years), to name just a few. From festival director Albert Wiederspiel: “In 2009, we Hamburg residents vocally supported the Green Movement in Iran and its flagbearer, Jafar Parahi. In 2013, he curated the Iran Deluxe series for our festival, which included his personal milestones in Iranian cinema; FILMFEST HAMBURG also screened his films The Circle, This Is Not A Film, The Accordionand Closed Curtain. We are therefore long overdue in honouring the artistic achievements of this fearless director and in times such as these, when more and more dissident artists and journalists all over the world are being detained, imprisoned and prevented from working, it is utterly imperative for us to do so.”

Panahi is not the only director with a close relationship to FILMFEST HAMBURG. Over a quarter of this year’s programme comprises films from directors whose first, second and third films have been screened in Hamburg in years past and, according to Wiederspiel, “whose artistic evolution is very near and dear to us. Because this is another of the festival’s responsibilities: Discovering, supporting and encouraging talented filmmakers.”

Familiar faces, up-and-coming talents & award-winning films

In addition to Jafar Panahi’s Three Faces, FILMFEST HAMBURG will be screening works by “FILMFEST veterans” Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite, Great Britain, Ireland, USA), Philippe Lesage (Genesis, Canada), Federico Veiroj (Belmonte,Uruguay, Mexico, Spain), Wang Bing (Dead Souls, France, Switzerland), Christoffer Boe (The Purity of Vengeance, Denmark, Germany), Frederick Wiseman (Monrovia, Indiana, USA), Yolande Zauberman (M, France), Damien Chazelle (First Man, USA), Marcel Gisler (Mario, Switzerland), Félix Dufour-Laperrière (Ville Neuve, Canada) and Lola Randl (The Bees and the Birds, Germany). A total of 29 début films are also in the programme, including We are the Others by Jean-François Asselin (Canada), The Harvesters by Etienne Kallos (South Africa, France, Greece, Poland), In Love and War by Kasper Torsting (Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic), Firecrackers by Jasmin Mozaffari (Canada), Ella and Nell by Aline Chukwuedo (Germany), Domestique by Adam Sedlák (Czech Republic, Slovenia) and A Land Imagined by Siew Hua Yeo (Singapore, France, Netherlands), which won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Festival. Other award-winning films are, just recently, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (Golden Lion winner at the Venice International Film Festival), which was only confirmed after our programme had already gone into print and which will be screened on 30 September 2018 at 10:30 PM in Screen 1 at CinemaxX Dammtor, The Favourite by Yorgos Lanthimos (winner of the Grand Jury Prize in Venice), Butterflies by Tolga Koraçelik (winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Drama in the World Cinema section, Sundance Film Festival) and Matteo Garrone’s Dogman (which won a Silver Palm for Best Actor for Marcello Fonte at the Cannes Film Festival).

Focus I: Visualising history

In every section, many of this year’s films grapple with contemporary history – probing it, questioning it, revealing it and rewriting it. Some reflect on a colonial past (To the Ends of the World, directed by Guillaume Nicloux, France; The Raven and the Seagull, directed by Lasse Lau, Denmark), while others question how much truth can be found in images (Erased__, Ascent of the Invisible, directed by Ghassan Halwani, Lebanon; The Image You Missed, directed by Donal Foreman, France, Ireland, USA) and still others deal with responding to and processing historical events (Another Day of Life, directed by Raùl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany; Dead Souls, directed by Wang Bing, France, Switzerland; Who Will Write Our History?, directed by Roberta Grossman, USA).

Veto! & Asia Express

“The twelve films in the Veto! section, dedicated to political cinema, bear witness to the current situation in the world and of the people who live here. This year’s films are compelling not only for the urgency of their respective topics and the persuasive power of their protagonists, but also for their particularly high level of discipline in terms of form and visual design, which does justice to the complexity of the issues they cover,” comments Veto! curator Jens Geiger. They address the culture of remembrance (“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians”, directed by Radu Jude, Romania, Czech Republic, France, Bulgaria, Germany), daily life in crisis situations (In the Desert – A Documentary Diptych, directed by Avner Faingulernt, Israel, Canada) and rootlessness and life in exile (A Family Tour, directed by Ying Liang, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia). In the section Asia Express, a powerful theme which runs through this year’s roster is movement, in the form of overstepping boundaries and crossing borders, especially in numerous films from Southeast Asia. “Half of the films being screened come from this region, whose storytelling tradition (both on camera and in life) is hallmarked by a certain permeability between the physical and the metaphysical world,” notes curator Jens Geiger. This describes both the winning film at the Locarno Festival (A Land Imagined, directed by Siew Hua Yeo, Singapore, France, Netherlands) and Edmund Yeo’s We, the Dead (Malaysia). The programme also features works by some of Asia’s most important auteurs such as Hong Sang-soo (Hotel by the River, South Korea), Wang Bing (Dead Souls, France, Switzerland), Rithy Panh (Graves Without a Name, Cambodia, France) and Mamoru Hosoda’s animated film Mirai (Japan).

Focus II: Biographies

Some films at this year’s festival depict historical or contemporary figures such as Queen Anne (The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Great Britain, Ireland, USA), Neil Armstrong (First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle) and Silvio Berlusconi (Loro, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Italy). Director of programming Kathrin Kohlstedde notes, “Direct confrontation with the past and present creates an emotional verisimilitude that gives authenticity to history and to stories.Audiences can experience the latter two films especially in a unique way, because the viewer has a personal connection to or opinion of the people involved or the event itself.” Even with very private stories, directors play with the concepts of fiction and reality and blur the boundaries between autobiography and fabrication, as in Little Tickles (France) by Andréa Bescond and Eric Métayer orYuli (Spain, Cuba, Great Britain, Germany) by Icía Bollaín.

Perspectives on Europe

The opening and closing films of the festival aren’t the only ones from Europe. More than half of this year’s films are European productions or co-productions, most of them found in the Freihafen section, which is being presented for the first time by European culture broadcaster ARTE, as well as in the Eurovisuell, Voilà! and Kaleidoscope series. The topics covered include materialism (Put Grandma in the Freezer, directed by Giuseppe G. Stasi, Giancarlo Fontana, Italy; Three Million Euros, directed by Tadas Vidmantas, Lithuania), family relationships, ways of life and ways of loving (Butterflies, directed by Tolga Karacelik, Turkey; Fugue, directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńka, Poland; Mario, directed by Marcel Gisler, Switzerland), abuses of power and tyranny (One Step Behind the Seraphim, directed by Daniel Sandu, Romania; Dogman, directed by Matteo Garrone, Italy; M, directed by Yolande Zauberman, France), and alienation and personal failures (A Balkan Noir, directed by Draźen Kuljanin, Sweden; The Way to Mandalay, directed by Ole Bornedal, Denmark). Two literary adaptations take us back to 20th-century Vienna (The Tobacconist, directed by Nikolaus Leytner, Austria, Germany) and 19th-century Copenhagen (A Fortunate Man, directed by Bille August, Denmark).

French-language films

This year, the films in the Voilà! section come from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada (Quebec). They depict the abysmal depths of Paris high society (Place Publique, directed by Agnès Jaoui), hone in on worlds of work and existential fears (Those who work, directed by Antoine Russbach; Our Struggles, directed by Guillaume Senez) and tell perceptive, stirring and difficult stories about love in the banlieues of Marseille (Shéhérazade, directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin). “We are very pleased that the director and cast will be attending the festival in Hamburg. A film from and about Marseille is perfect to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the partnership between the cities of Hamburg and Marseille. All in all, our French-language programme is our contribution to what the city of Hamburg has named ‘the year of the French language and Francophone culture’,” festival director Albert Wiederspiel comments.

Grosse Freiheit & the strength of the North

For the first time ever, FILMFEST HAMBURG will be featuring Grosse Freiheit, a new section for current German first-run films. Producers are competing for the €25,000 Hamburg Producers Award for German Film Productions, funded by the Hamburg Ministry of Culture. Audiences will be able to watch new films from Sandra Nettelbeck (What Doesn’t Kill Us), Sven Taddicken (The Most Beautiful Couple) and Marcus H. Rosenmüller (Trautmann).

FILMFEST HAMBURG will also screen numerous films that shine a spotlight on Hamburg and Northern Germany and/or come from Hamburg-based filmmakers and creative minds. The sections Hamburger Filmschau, Freihafen, Kaleidoscope and Televisions feature the following films, among others: Another Day of Life by Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow; Danish-German co-production In Love und War by Kasper Torsting; international co-production (with Hamburg involvement) Sibel by Caģla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti; Christoffer Boe’s adaptation The Purity of Vengeance; documentaries All Creatures Welcome by Sandra Trostel, Sankt Pauli’s Strong Ladies by Rasmus Gerlach and Land of My Children by Darío Aguirre; TV movies Aufbruch in die Freiheit [Making A Break For Freedom] by Isabel Kleefeld, produced by Hamburg-based production company Relevant Film; Tödliches Comeback [Deadly Comeback] by Hermine Huntgeburth, the new episode of Nachtschicht [Night Shift] “Long Live Death” by Lars Becker,TATORT: Borowski und das Glück der anderen [Tatort: Borowski and the Fortune of Others] by Sven Bohse; and two new episodes of the popular children’s series Die Pfefferkörner [The Peppercorns].


In this newly renamed section, eleven films have been entered into the competition for this year’s Hamburg Producers Award for German TV Productions, sponsored by the VFF, Verwertungsgesellschaft für Film- und Fernsehproduzenten mbH.These are the newest films from Hermine Huntgeburth (Tödliches Comeback [Deadly Comeback], produced by Hermine Huntgeburth, Volker Einrauch, Lothar Kurzawa, Josefine Filmproduktion), Sherry Hormann (Vermisst in Berlin [Missing in Berlin],produced by Gabriela Sperl, Quirin Berg, Max Wiedemann, Wiedemann & Berg Television), Thomas Berger (The Beginning of Something, produced by Jutta Lieck-Klenke, Network Movie), Thorsten M. Schmidt (Divorce For Beginners, produced by Christiane Ruff, Imre von der Heydt, Frederik Hunschede, ITV Studios Germany), Marcus O. Rosenmüller (Die Affäre Borgward [The Borgward Affair],produced by Dagmar Rosenbauer, Cinecentrum) and Ingo Rapser (Oh Gloria, produced by Jens C. Susa, Provobis Gesellschaft für Film und Fernsehen). Besides those competing, FILMFEST HAMBURG is also screening the following episodes: three new instalments of cult favourite Der Tatortreiniger [Crime Scene Cleaner] by Arne Feldhusen, the finale of Matthias Glasner’s thriller Blochin, and Sebastian Stojetz’s webseries Technically Single. In FILMFEST HAMBURG’s inaugural screening outside of a cinema, documentary dramas Kaisersturz [The Fall of the Kaiser] andVictory Of Women will be shown in the ballroom of the company headquarters of Hapag-Lloyd, located at Ballindamm in the centre of Hamburg. “Our new name for this section reflects a vision of television as a capable form of expressing a reality that has grown more complex, as well as evolving viewing habits. This openness and diversity is something we want to put on display – with television series and online formats, as well as a wide range of settings, topics and genres,” the section’s director Friedemann Beyer comments.

MICHEL Children’s and Youth Film Festival

Anna Dahlman’s Finnish film Hayflower, Quiltshoe and the Rubens Brothers will open the 16th MICHEL Children’s and Youth Film Festival on 28 September 2018. Other films being shown include The Witch Hunters by Rasko Miljkovic (Serbia, Macedonia), the animated film Gordon & Paddy by Linda Hambäck (Sweden) and White Fang by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexandre Espigares (France, Luxembourg, USA). Festival directors Samuel Feuerstein and Johanna von Fehrn-Stender have this to say: “The MICHEL festival offers a varied programme of films, workshops and events. All of this makes the festival a place where extraordinary things happen – both on and off the screen. We’re particularly excited to be the first film festival in the world to screen the adaptation of bestselling Danish children’s book Wildwitch; the film’s director and two leading ladies will be guests at the screening.”For the very first time, the MICHEL festival will feature more female directors than male ones. In terms of their narrative content, as well, several films are focused on strong girls – a fact which will be given special recognition at the Girl Power event in the Festival Tent. Screenings of non-competing films will include the moving French documentary In the Mighty Jungle, directed by Caroline Capelle and Ombline Ley, two new episodes of Die Pfefferkörner [The Peppercorns], and Reihe für Minis [Short Films for Pipsqueaks]. The closing film will be Dorothée van den Berghe’s Rosie & Moussa (Belgium).

Supporting programme & special screenings

In addition to the well-established series of daily events Klappe auf! [Open Up!] (Bundesverband Schauspiel, the German film and TV actors’ association), discussion series Unzensiert [Uncensored], and an industry meet-and-greet hosted by the Hamburg Loves Film initiative, FILMFEST HAMBURG will also be hosting a variety of events with its cooperative partners. Deutsche Filmakademie [the German Film Academy] and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein [an organisation that provides funding and support for filmmakers in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein] will explore the possibilities for evaluating film through SVOD platforms (28 September 2018, 3:30 PM), DGB and ver.di will discuss working conditions at festivals (1 October 2018, 3:30 PM), European Film Promotion will reflect on increasing diversity in casting (30 September 2018, 8 PM) and women’s industry network WIFT will dive deep into the depiction of gender in film and television (2 October 2018, 4 PM). The NDR workshop will take a look at the aftermath of Contract 18, and Creative Europe Desk Hamburg invites festivalgoers to an expert discussion with series expert Walter Iuzollino (1 October 2018, 5 PM). In cooperation with DER SPIEGEL magazine, director Yolande Zaubermann will discuss her new film M with SPIEGEL ONLINE editor Hannah Pilarczyk (29 September 2018, 6 PM). Germany-wide film-industry network Crew United is hosting a Crew Call event, the first of its kind to take place in Hamburg (6 October 2018, 8 PM). The HEIMATFILME film club will present a special programme, “Heimatfilme” [“Homeland Films”], for the second time running. Refugees and native speakers of German have worked together to provide German subtitles for selected films from their countries of origin. This event will take place in the community centre of the church St. Markus-Hoheluft.

Awards & honours

In 2018, FILMFEST HAMBURG will be awarding 125,000 euros in prize money. One new addition is the €25,000 Hamburg Producers Award for German Film Productions, funded by the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media. Other awards are the Douglas Sirk Award (no cash prize), the Hamburg Producers Award for European Co-Productions, sponsored by the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media (prize: €25,000/€15,000 worth of colour grading/Optical Art), the Hamburg Producers Award for German Television Productions, sponsored by the VFF Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten mbH (€25,000), the Commerzbank Audience Award (€5,000), the Sichtwechsel Film Award, sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office (€10,000), the Political Film of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (€5,000), the MICHEL Award, sponsored by the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung [Hamburg Foundation for Culture] and the Ian and Barbara Karan Stiftung (€5,000), the Art Cinema Award (€5,000), the NDR Young Talent Award (€5,000) and the Critics’ Choice Award (no cash prize),which will be presented for the first time in collaboration with the Verband der deutschen Filmkritik [Association of German Film Critics].

Partners & sponsors

FILMFEST HAMBURG’s main sponsor is the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media. Other partners we have worked with for many years include the Deutsche Fernsehlotterie [the German TV Lottery], ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland, Hapag-Lloyd AG, the Grand Elysée Hotel, Studio Hamburg and the radio and television broadcaster NDR. A new partner has joined the FILMFEST HAMBURG team this year: ARTE. The European cultural broadcaster will be presenting the Freihafen section for European co-productions.

FILMFEST HAMBURG will take place from 27 September to 6 October 2018. As of today, the programme and all events are listed online. Tickets can be purchased at participating theatres and in the Levantehaus as of 13 September 2018. The box office in the Levantehaus will be open early for “Golden Hour” from 6 to 8 PM on 12 September 2018.


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