30.09. - 09.10.2021

First Films

Of extraordinary women, deadly substances and voodoo magic, Chinese mountains and Icelandic fog: FILMFEST HAMBURG shows films from Hamburg and almost every corner of the world, bringing together myths and history with the present. After stops in Cannes, Venice and Toronto among others, these films celebrate their German premieres in Hamburg.

The Hamburg director Katrin Gebbe, whose debut film Nothing Bad Can Happen was screened in Cannes in 2013, will present her new film Pelican Blood at FILMFEST HAMBURG as a German premiere after screenings in Venice and Toronto. Nina Hoss plays a horse trainer who adopts a little girl from Bulgaria. She quickly notices that the girl finds it difficult to form bonds and stick to rules. Tensions arise between the mother, the adopted daughter and her environment. The film has been nominated for the 25,000 Euro Hamburg Producers Award for German Cinema Productions and runs in the section Große Freiheit which was introduced in 2018.

In Darkroom - Tödliche Tropfen Rosa von Praunheim rolls up the true case of a serial killer and retells it in his own unique style. It is the story of two men who move to Berlin together. They are happy, but then one of them begins to experiment with dangerous substances. The film also runs in the section Große Freiheit.

Ken Loach is perhaps the most important cinematic chronicler of the working class in the last 50 years. The director will present his Cannes competition film Sorry We Missed You in Hamburg. It tells the story of a parcel carrier who becomes self-employed, but almost breaks down due to the structures of the modern working world and his own self-exploitation. At FILMFEST HAMBURG Sorry We Missed You is shown in the Kaleidoskop section, the series for films from all over the world.

The following three feature films can also be seen in the Kaleidoskop section:

A coming-of-age story in the Scottish techno scene of the nineties: Far from sinking into nostalgia, Beats paints a picture that oscillates between comedy and fear of the future in a society marked by class struggle and social inequality. The film, produced by Steven Soderbergh, also shows the possibilities of a better, freer world embodied through music. Director Brian Welsh has previously worked on the Netflix series Black Mirror.

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things assembles archive material and interviews with artists such as Tony Bennett and Jamie Cullum to trace the extraordinary life story of the US-American »First Lady of Song«. Director Leslie Woodhead shows the iconic moments of Fitzgerald's long career, but also lesser-known aspects such as her confrontation with everyday racism in America, with which the singer has struggled throughout her life.

On »white days«, when the snow-covered earth merges with the sky, the living meet the dead according to Icelandic myth. A White, White Day is a gripping drama about a man who heightens the mourning for his wife to obsession. At this year's Cannes Film Festival the film by director Hlynur Pálmason (Winter Brothers) was shown in the section »Semaine de la Critique«. A White, White Day is one of three Icelandic feature films to be shown in Hamburg this year.

Zombi Child arrives in Hamburg from the »Quinzaine des Réalisateurs« in Cannes. The new film by French director Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama, House of Tolerance) mixes French history with Haitian myth. Bonello tells the story of a prestigious girls' boarding school in contemporary Paris alongside the story of a man made a slave by voodoo magic in 1962. When the girls learn about this story, they want to use the black magic for their own purposes. The film will be shown in the section Voilà!

Bombay Rose will open the »Settimana Internazionale della Critica« in Venice. The animated film by Indian director Gitanjali Rao outlines three stories of impossible love: from a man and a woman who is promised to somebody else, between two women and the love of an entire city for its Bollywood stars. The elaborately hand-drawn animated film is shown in Hamburg in the Asia Express section.

Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains was this year's final film of the »Semaine de la Critique« and is the first part of a planned trilogy by young director Gu Xiaogang. The film also runs in the Asia Express section of FILMFEST HAMBURG and portrays the lives of three generations of a Chinese family through four eventful seasons.

The section Transatlantik presents the life story of Ruth Westheimer.
Ask Dr. Ruth accompanies the now 91-year-old sex therapist and Holocaust survivor, who began as a radio presenter, later moderated several television shows and published over 30 books. Westheimer remembers her childhood in Germany and her escape to Switzerland, growing up in Israel and her breakthrough with the radio show »Sexually Speaking«, with which she broke taboos and stirred up conservative America.

In Hamburg, people are dying in droves from a strange disease. The authorities are perplexed and set up quarantine zones. On the run, a small group of people (including Helmut Griem, Ulrich Wildgruber, Fernando Arrabal and Carline Seiser) tries to make its way south through a chaotic Germany. Peter Fleischmann's surreal science fiction film The Hamburg Syndrome, which premiered at the Hamburg »Filmfest der Filmemacher« in 1979, will be re-released in its restored version in the Hamburger Filmschau section on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

The entire film programme will be announced on September 10, 2019.

FILMFEST HAMBURG takes place from September 26 to October 5, 2019. 130 productions from all over the world will be shown as European, German or Hamburg premieres. Festival cinemas include Abaton, CinemaxX Dammtor, Metropolis, Passage and Studio Cinema.


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