Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hamburg International Short Film Festival 2010

The festival banner.

Earlier this week I returned from spending a fantastic few days in Germany, where I was lucky enough to attend the Hamburg International Short Film Festival with my short film Paintbrush: The Epitaph. After touching down at Hamburg airport in glorious sunshine, I was picked up by the festival chauffeur and taken directly to the apartment of my hosts Mathias and Isabel, who had kindly offered to put up a filmmaker during the festival (longstanding hosts for the festival, Mathias and Isabel went out of their way to make me feel at home and I am incredibly grateful for the generous hospitality that they showed me). The apartment was in the beautiful district of Altona, which was just a short walk from the festival centre. Home to the info-counter and its friendly workers, the festival centre also contained the infamous 35ml club, for which people from around the world bring along a bottle of their local drink. The final collection is then placed in the club for people to drink for free. Although, as a non-drinker, I perhaps wasn't able to appreciate the full benefits of this idea, it certainly seemed like everyone else was enjoying sampling the various tipples on offer (to say the least...).

The Rathaus in Altona.

The first screening of Paintbrush: The Epitaph took place just a few hours after I arrived, at the Lichtmess, a cinema with a lot of charm and the perfect venue for a late-night screening of NoBudget films. The film seemed to go down really well and my producer/co-writer Rahim and I were touched by the warm reception the film received.

My remaining time in Hamburg was spent in numerous screenings and partying into the early hours at the festival club (in general, it seems to me that Hamburg is something of a nocturnal festival, with fairly quiet days, packed evenings, and long nights). I also managed to sit in on an interesting panel discussion asking 'where is the parlour in virtual space?', and to explore some of the beautiful city. The quality of the shorts that I saw was extremely high, and this is especially true of the documentary work. While there were far too many standout films to go into detail here, a few of my favourites included The Zone, The Six Dollar Fifty Man, Kokon, Derby, L'Ultima Anguriera, Doris – In a Conflict Without Dialogue and Alitas, amongst many, many others.

Outside B-Moive before my second screening.

As well as a number of interesting cinemas with genuine character, such as the B-Movie, screenings also took place in the open air, on the top floor of a multi-storey car park overlooking the heart of the city. Complete with its own makeshift bar and BBQ, the Open Air screenings were definitey amongst the highlights and I hope that other festivals will follow suit in exploring alternative screening spaces.

The Open Air Screening. Photo by Stephen Fingleton.

The final award ceremony came complete with its own Eurovision style voiceover which had Rahim and me in stitches ('I'd love to know what Arsy-Versy means in English!'), and many well deserving films took home prizes. This is especially true of the superb documentary Holding Still, which scooped the Jury Award for best German film, and concluded the final screening before the closing party. The film's perfection was perhaps the most fitting end to an excellent festival I can think of.

Bookmark and Share