“We had wonderful days in Schwerin at the FILMKUNSTFEST with beautiful encounters and experiences”, said Ulrich Tukur, the winner of honorary award 2021, at the award ceremony of the 30th anniversary edition of the Schwerin Film Festival. After the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig, together with the artistic director of the festival, Volker Kufahl, presented him with the Golden Ox, Tukur proved that he is always good for surprises: as a thank you for the award, he picked up the accordion and then presented Prime Minister Schwesig, Volker Kufahl and his festival team a box of “Ulmer Gold Ochsen” beer.
David Clay Diaz, director of the Austrian tragicomedy about migration, “Me, We”, which was awarded the main prize “Flying Ox” of the feature film competition of the 30th FILMKUNSTFEST MV, as well as his colleague Florian Dietrich, who won both the NDR Director Award and the Audience Award “Toubab” for his moving friendship story, used the stage of the Filmpalast Capitol cinema to make appeals against discrimination and racism – themes that shape their films. Renowned Austrian director Hubert Sauper, who received an award for the best image design for his documentary film about the current situation in Cuba, “Epicentro”, announces that he will give the award to his two protagonists.
Especially Farba Dieng and Julius Nitschkoff, who received the newly donated Actor Award for their performance in “Toubab”, infected the gala audience with their exuberant joy.
Although only half of the capacity of the cinemas was due to the Corona restrictions, the mood of the more than 130 guests from the film and television industry – including Jörg Schüttauf, Inka Friedrich, Anja Kling, Catrin Striebeck, Jörg Gudzuhn, Victoria Trauttmansdorff and Hanno Koffler – was good and a tangible relief that a physical festival experience is possible again.
Volker Kufahl, Artistic Director of the FILMKUNSTFEST MV: “For far too long we have missed the unique festival feeling that comes from the personal encounter with the filmmakers, the shared cultural experience and the conversation about the films shown. What we missed last year! The decision not to stream the films in parallel was the right one. ”
Around 8,000 visitors attended the 30th FILMKUNSTFEST MV, which was allowed to offer only 50% of the capacity under pandemic conditions, significantly fewer than in previous years. Despite the restrictions, the festival was organised smoothly, which was particularly appreciated by the many international guests from Finland, Austria and Switzerland.
Parallel to the award ceremony, the sold-out premiere of the improvisational comedy “The Burial” by director Jan Georg Schütte took place in the inner courtyard of Schwerin Castle, where festival films were shown as open-air screenings for a whole week.
Current feature films, documentaries and short films from guest country 2021, Finland, will be presented during the festival from August 31st - September 5th, 2021.
The latest feature film by Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki, "Gracious Night", opened the 30th FILMKUNSTFEST Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania as the German premiere on the 31st of August in the state capital Schwerin and thus set the starting point for an extensive programme from guest country Finland.
Mika Kaurismäki presentes the feature film to the local audience at the festival cinema Filmpalast Capitol personally. Finland's Ambassador to Germany, Anne Sipiläinen, and the Minister President of Mecklenburg- Western Pommerania, Manuela Schwesig and German actor Ulrich Tukur ("Amen!") with his “Rhythmus Boys” were also guests at the opening.
While SYSTEM CRASHER wins the Fliegender Ochse (Flying Ox, with reference to the ox in the coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), main award of the feature-film competition, Actress Katharina Thalbach takes home the Goldener Ochse for Lifetime Achievement (Golden Ox, the honorary award of the Schwerin film festival; see picture).
Thanks to a festival programme that was characterised not only by many female filmmakers but also by a powerful range of films, the 29th FILMKUNSTFEST MV was eventually visited by 19,200 spectators having watched 120 films. Hence, this year's attendance clearly exceeded the previous record of approximately 18,000 visitors in 2017.
”The 29th year in the history of the FILMKUNSTFEST MV has surpassed all our expectations,” the festival’s Artistic Director Volker Kufahl said. “We are truly pleased that both the audience and the juries appreciated the programme we had thoughtfully put together and which comprised many films revolving around topics relevant to society. I am particularly glad that our Focus Ireland section attracted such an overwhelming interest”.
After a suspense-packed start with the German premiere of the psychological thriller film GRETA directed by Irish grandseigneur Neil Jordan (THE CRYING GAME, 1993), the number of cinemagoers remained on a constantly high level.
1,000 spectators alone attended the two film concerts along the screening of Charlie Chaplin’s silent-film classic THE GOLD RUSH from 1925. The Mecklenburg State Orchestra, conducted by Martin Schelhaas, played Chaplin’s score to the film.
Along with the honorary award for Katharina Thalbach, 11 other prices were conferred during the festival’s award ceremony at the Mecklenburg State Theatre. The German film SYSTEM CRASHER won the feature-film competition’s Best Film Award, the Fliegender Ochse, the FIPRESCI Critics’ Choice Award, the Best Music and Sound Design Award as well as the Advancement Award of the DEFA Foundation. The Austrian film THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET, partly filmed in the city of Rostock, won the NDR Best Director Award, actress Valerie Pachner received the Best Up-and-coming Actor Award.
The German entry LET THE BELL RING about an American boxer, directed by Christin Freitag, won the Best Documentary Feature Award. Daniel Samer took home the Best Cinematography in a Documentary Feature Award for his camera work in Stephan Hilpert’s CONGO CALLING. The Best Children’s and Youth Film Award LEO was won by the imaginative adventure film CLEO set in Berlin, directed by the German director and screenwriter Erik Schmitt. The Audience Award was won by Sherry Hormann’s A REGULAR WOMAN. On Sherry Hormann’s behalf, Christoph Ott of the film’s distribution company NFP marketing & distribution accepted the award. Just like many other festival visitors, Ott valued highly the selection of competition entries and added that the FILMKUNSTFEST MV “showcases excellence”.
The 13 guests from Ireland were particularly chuffed about the curiosity and open-mindedness of the Schwerin festival audience, with the German-Irish author Ralf Sotscheck, who contributed a reading session, the Irish photo journalist Derek Speirs, whose exhibition titled CHILDREN can be visited in Schwerin until the end of May, Don O’Mahony, the curator of the Cork Film Festival short-film programme, actress Hazel Doupe (FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY) and her fellow actor Dafhyd Flynn (MICHAEL INSIDE) leading the way.
Some of the 9 feature films and 15 short films from the Focus Ireland section of this year’s FILMKUNSTFEST MV programme made specific reference to the civil war in Northern Ireland, such as the documentary feature I, DOLOURS directed by Maurice Sweeney about the IRA leader Dolours Price that premiered in Germany at the festival. During the film’s Q&A talk, Sweeney expressed his concern that Northern Irish who have not come to terms with the traumas the conflict in Northern Ireland had caused, especially the generation between 16 and 20, may rekindle the violence in the course of the impending Brexit. In his opinion, the recent murder of journalist Lyra McKee was a tragic indication for his apprehension.
The Irish Film Institute, Culture Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland supported the Focus Ireland section.
Films about the history of the GDR and the 1990 change proved very popular among the Schwerin audience members. On the latter subject, Peter-Michael Diestel, the last Minister of the Interior of the German Democratic Republic, was a guest at the festival. Bernd Böhlich, the director of SEALED LIPS, and his film team were also pleased about a crowded cinema hall when their drama film about a young German communist who had been wrongfully convicted under Stalin in the USSR celebrated its German premiere as part of this year’s feature-film competition. Böhlich was accompanied by actresses Swetlana Schönfeld, Barbara Schnitzler, Carlotta von Falkenhayn as well as their fellow male actor Peer Jäger. A large audience moreover attended the screening of Evelyn Schmidt’s DEFA films THE BICYCLE (1982) and ESCAPADE (1980) in their recently digitised editions. The 29th FILMKUNSTFEST MV also commemorated Heinz Brinkmann, one of the festival’s co-founders, in a special In Memoriam screening of his documentary film FALLWURF BÖHME. Heinz Brinkmann passed away on April 4th, 2019.
The topic of this year’s Film Industry Conference, hosted by FILM COMMISSION MV on May 2nd and attended by some 100 spectators, was the current status of film and media promotion in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a topic Minister President Manuela Schwesig also addressed during her speech at the opening ceremony. Along the intended institutional restructuring for film promotion, the representative of the state also announced a newly established cinema award for outstanding and high-class film programmes in cinemas in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
FILMLAND MV General Manager Volker Kufahl emphasised the increasing attractivity of filming locations in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and pointed out that by more appealing financial and promotional instruments this attractivity might be boosted.