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A Passion for Film - International Short Film Festival 2007 - Hamburg, Germany
by Karen Pecota

My friend Mary recently asked me to tell her what I enjoyed doing in Hamburg, excluding visiting the local cinema to attend a film press screening. OOOHHH! That was a pretty hard question to answer because the city of Hamburg offers incredible entertainment with venues that I thoroughly enjoy. Admittedly, my adoration for Hamburg events often takes precedent to sitting in a dark cinema mesmerized by a compelling narrative on the silver screen. However, my work as a film journalist is my passion and my hobby. I can’t get enough of the world of film and what it has to offer!  Together with most of my film journalist colleagues, our passion for film grows the more we understand the industry and its key players. As we critique, the joy we experience by cultivating our individual writing styles is enhanced with a deeper knowledge of the business of film. This opportunity has provided open doors to be accredited press at renowned film festivals world wide. The film press screenings are interesting but it is the film festival that allows one to experience more of what ticks inside the world of the motion picture and the people who make it function.

The yearning to attend film festivals is a part of my livelihood, which, I have also made into a hobby. Many films chosen for festivals are often not the most enjoyable to view; even though, the festival guide says they are the cream of the crop. In fact, one of my film director friends says that for every good film to see at a festival, you sit through eight terrible ones. I tend to agree except for the films that I saw at the Sundance Film Festival 2007, which, to my amazement, I found redeeming qualities in them all --over thirty films. Most film festivals offer a variety of events catering to the filmmaker, the general public, the press, or the people in marketing. I like to attend the panel discussions or the press conferences. I want to hear what the director has to say about why he/she made the film, why the producer put up the money or why the actors agreed to join the project. Every film has a special message from the filmmaker with a unique passion that intrigues the listening audience and it is never boring.  

The most recent film festival I attended was located right in our back yard. Yes! In Hamburg! It was our city’s 23rd International Short Film Festival 2007, June 6 -11. It is one of the oldest festivals world wide offering only short films: 32 minutes in length or less. I have attended this festival for years and I thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere because it draws from a very young generation of filmmakers. The enthusiasm, by the festival organizers, to promote innovative works of art, to be cast on the big screen, keeps this festival alive. It fosters the cutting edge thinkers! The short film venue can be just as effective in presenting a powerful message and since the shorts are a category all their own they are not to be compared to the full length feature. Together, Astrid Kühl, festival managing director, and festival organizer, Jürgen Kittel, declared at the opening ceremony that the week would present 400 films selected from 100 countries. They were delighted to announce that a new category was added to the program called “Music in Shorts” sponsored by Rock City e.V.  They would be giving two, 2000 EUR awards for the best sound design in a national film and an international film.

This festival is one to attend with friends because there is so much fuel for conversation. I attended this year with my friend, Becky and my daughter’s boyfriend, John. One of our favorite shorts was called We Will Win by Lebanese director, Mahmoud Hojeij. He invited three friends which were of different nationalities (one Arab and two Israelis), to play leap frog. He filmed them all day and not one time did they correctly accomplish the simple task to jump over the other. It was amazing! We had a chance to listen to the director in a special Q and A to talk about his experience and to negate the impression that his message had a political agenda. This type of interaction and encounter is why I like my job and it keeps me motivated to treat my passion for film more like a hobby.