The Filmfest Dresden is an anual international short and animation film festival. It’s not compareable to the huge festivals, but it has it’s very own charm, since it focus very much on film makers and special programmes from all over the world. The selections for the national and international competitions are always fine, the special programmes are very important and very interessting.
Short films are no big market in general, and cinemas unfortunately don’t show short films as openers for their blockbusters. Short films have the great advantage over featured films that they don’t have to deal with long introductions on story, persons, setups etc. and can tell their idea straight. It seems much easier to tell subversive and subtle stories and come to the point. There are still so many little masterpieces not really known to the public. I’m for example a big big fan of Jan Švankmajer, Matt Hulse (whom I got to know at the festival a couple of years ago) or the great puppet animations from Nukufilm, Latvia (just to have a little name dropping at the beginning).
Day 0 (2)
After a week of joy in Berlin I arrived quite late at the festival. I got my accreditation and went to Dagmar, the festival club, without having the chance to see a movie. Spencer did nice sound at the club, but it was quite empty. I met Lutz Dammbeck, who told me I’ll not get the job at HfBK Dresden although he sounded he would like to have me as his assistant. The commitee decided against me. But we talk about doing something together in the future anyway, so maybe I’ll do some lectures there, who knows. I met my friend Piet Fuchs from Cologne, who was committed to moderate the national competition during the festival (which he did very good actually).
Day 1 (3)
After a stressful day I arrived at about 6 o’clock at the festival area. Unfortunatelly I was a bit late for the Hungarian programme, so I only got to see two other programmes: One was about sexual education short films from the former GDR and there was a nice and funny introduction with Prof. Dr. Kurt Starke, who was the director of the centre for sexual research in Leipzig before 1989. The other programme I saw was French 1 about love stories, which was very entertaining. Afterwards the Institut français de Dresde sponsored wine and brezels (where I got heavily drunken). I was still very upset that I didn’t manage to arrive ealier. Mr. Snikken invited me to go to the Vision bar, where most of the movies are available at least to view on video during the festival (I didn’t took that offer at that situation, but later I watched Ryan there). At night I went to L’Houp by the filmfest VIP service :-)
Day 2 (4)
I didn’t managed again to see the Hungarian programme, since I arrvied at the festival around 7. Stupid me! I watched the National Competion 4 and 5, which was much better than expected. There were two movies I really liked: The first called Little spoon with Otto Sander, who played an old lonely man. I liked that one, because it was those kind of silent, unspectacular movies about one of the main problems being a human. The other called On a Wednesday night in Tokyo, which was mainly one scene shot at Tokyo underground watching people finding a place. Afterwards I watched British Focus 2. This programme was a feature of the last years onedotzero festival in London and a presentation of some nice music videos. My favorites were: Jonas Odell - Take me out (Franz Ferndinand), Lynn Fox - tour visuals: unravel (Björk), Daniel Levi - Freak (LFO), Bourdoiseau, Genzerli and Blanquet - Electronic Performers (Air), Alexander Rutherford - Go to sleep (Radiohead) and Trunk - Look for me [in any room] (Boom Bip). Afterwards I went with Piet and a guy from Berlin (I forgot his name) to Golfclub, a nice little venue in Neustadt where Krause Duo spun a wonderful house set.
Day 3 (5)
I did it. I watched the Hungarian programme, which was one of my personal highlights this year in advance. It was a retrospective from 50 years of Pannónia Film Studios. I recognized again, that the most significant animation movies are mainly from East film makers and studios. They are telling deep, touching but also funny and illuminative stories and not that high tech clean “we are so cool but we also have feelings”-bullcrap. My favorites from Pannónia are and will ever be Sisyphos from Marcel Jankovics and Abo ovo from Ferenc Cakó (a stunning animation with sand), but in fact every film in that programme was a little diamond. The programme Europe in Shorts IX - Fantastic was as good as expected. It contained such lovely movies like the animation Nosferatu Tango from Zoltan Horvath (a story about a mosquito falling in love with a vampire), Paradisiaque from Igor Pejic (an alien comes to earth and got to know plants, cows and … men) and the German bloody parody Staplerfahrer Klaus, which even made it to file sharing networks. Afterwards I got to see Japan 2, which was the short film part of the Japanese programmes. I remember mainly two movies: One called P.O.W. from Daisuke Shibata, which was about two American soldiers try to get informations from an Iraqi about Saddam (The Iraqi made totally fun of the Americans and pretended Saddam was only a comedian) and a Yakuza story called Every boy loves airplanes from Daihachi Yoshida. Then I got somewhat very confused (I am still - but I wont go into details here). The next thing was the microsscope session (live music with visuals), which was pretty okay but no rocket science. I wanted to go either to the Filmball or to the Scheune to see DJ Flight, a new resident of Metallheadz, but the night went completly different than expected. I stopped by at our office and surprisingly met Astro, Sven and toidinamai sitting there. But I ended up at Blue Note having a very nice talk and a few drinks with a lovely and very interessting person.
Day 4 (6)
Since I had no sleep I went back to the festival at around 10 and had the change to see Together, which was quite nice. It was meant to be a youth programme (unfortunatelly this year there was no Kids programme). Then I’ve seen a programme with 3 documentaries from Iran and Pakistan. This one was a big big surprise for me. The first movie called Keshtiye Noah and was about the consequences of sea war at the southern coastland, the second called Tabdeeli which was an illustrated daydream with wonderful Urdu poetry. The third called Mast Qalandar. This last one portrays an annual celebration, where about a million followers come together in Sehwan Sharif to forget their conscious selves and undergo a process of individual and collective ecstasy. This is actually an interesting part of Islamic history as I got to know. The name of the movie refers to a Sufic saint in the early 13th century who settled in Sehwan Sharif, in the south of Pakistan, to preach his message of love, tolerance and ecstasy. He became one of the most legendary mystic Islamist holy men in the whole orient. Afterwards I got to see part two of DEFA education films. This part contained animated films on the subjects of occupational safety, fire and health protection, saving electricity and contraception. Some of the movies contain the well-known comic character Theo. Just another highlight of the festival I urgently wanted to see was Japan 1, an animation film programme. The main part was about the winner of the 15th Filmfest Dresden international competition in animation, Koji Yamamura. He won with his masterpiece Atama Yama, a modern interpretation of a Japanese Rakugo story set in contemporary Tokyo. Yamamuras movies combining aesthetic prettiness and the latest technologies with traditional drawings in a very nice way. The programme was rounded off with 3 older animations from Kihachiro Kawamoto (Oni - The demon), Renzo Kinoshita (Made in Japan) and Tadanari Okamotos Chikarabashi as well as a wonderful abstract animation of the jury member Maya Yonesho called Üks Uks (its Estonian for The doors). The last programme I saw was the experimental programme. Afterwards I was very exhausted and tired, so unfortunatelly I had no power left to see the Indonesian programme.
First of all I want to say thanks to all the organizers and the whole team of the 17. Filmfest Dresden. You are hosting a very warm and professional festival. I know about some of the problems you had in advance, and I am glad that you are still putting all of your heart and soul into this event. You were friendly all the time, you solved all problems without turning a hair and you really took care for everything. I personally had quite alot of nice talks with interessting people and got again the possibility to see so much wonderful movies. I’m looking forward to next years filmfest. Thanks to you guys for broaden my knowledge and for getting a deep understanding of some important differences, not only this year but the last 15. Keep up your good and important work.
I also got a couple of very good ideas for a couple of events related to short films. I won’t tell any details for now, because I need to talk to some people in advance to see if it’s possible.