The 23rd annual Filmfest Hamburg played October 1-10, 2015, under the motto “You never know the next time film history will be made.” English-speakers were happy to find 109 films either in English or with English sub-titles. There were 13 categories or “sections.” Tickets were available on line; there were ongoing reports on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
New this year was the category Transatlantik with eight films from the U.S. and one from Canada. (Naturally, there were more films from those two countries, just not listed in this category.) We could see the last film with Robin Williams before he died: Boulevard. There was the teenager film about a girl suffering from cancer and young friendships called Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. In Jackson Heights was a long (190 minutes) but never boring documentary about one neighborhood in Queens, New York City, NY. Mistress America is the new film by Noah Baumbach, and there was a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim, a successful supporter of international contemporary art, especially 1920-1970. Remember touches on both Alzheimer and Jewish suffering during WWII.
Especially popular were the political films which set off long discussions, even after the film was over. Officially there were 12 political films, although almost all films had some political basis, simply because they are about human nature. Eleven Chinese films, which were banned from local Chinese cinemas, showed in the category Asia Express. The retrospective (older films) category this year was represented by Israel with films dating 1971-2012. All films were premieres in some way whether world, European, or German premieres.
This year directors, actors, etc., who appeared for Q & A after their films, did not have to worry about disposing of the usual gift of flowers of appreciation. This year, each received a certificate which stated that the flower money had been donated to Hand in Hand für Norddeutschland, an organization that supports refugees – a much better idea!
Considering the many, many events in the Festzelt (white tent) next to Abaton and other sites around Hamburg, it would have been possible to participate actively without attending a single film. There were discussions about digitalization, casting, film making, sales, censorship, literary sources and authorization. TIDE radio/TV station broadcasted live. There were discussions with directors, producers. There was a grand tour through Hamburg to acquaint people with possible sites for future films. And every evening at 20:00 there was an after-show music festival, each one emphasizing a certain country. Who had time to go to a film?
This was an excellent Filmfest Hamburg. Check it out in 2016: September 29-October 8.