The 22nd Filmfest Hamburg geared up even before the official opening on September 25. For four days prior, the festival committee showed beloved German films, open-air, right on the Alster for everyone to enjoy for free. They also had a welcome-to-the-festival mystery preview at Abaton and the cinema was full of curious people willing to buy a ticket no matter what the film – which turned out to be a good choice: Mommy by Xavier Dolan. The opening film, Pride, was well received and then we all settled down to see 143 films from 49 countries in the remaining nine days. In the end, more than 40,000 tickets were sold, topping last year’s record.
Besides the official schedule open to the public, many of the films were shown as “industry films” for accredited journalists and film people. These started at 10 a.m. so that in the end, we could easily watch five films a day. How do journalists turn in daily articles after sitting in cinema all day and partying all night? Naturally, we had to make time, also, for special panel discussions such as “packaging your film for sale” or the “Making of” a film, for example Get, Der Prozess der Viviane Amsalem” or join whole classes of French high-school kids who watched a film in French and then celebrated with the director in the festival party tent.
I saw not even one really bad film. Perhaps I could have skipped the two segments of the fifth season of the TV series Boardwalk Empire (no clue how that could go on for the fifth season), but even that was worthwhile just to see – live - actor Vincent Piazza who is in the series. He also played Tommy DiVito in the film Jersey Boys which opened in Hamburg the end of July. We could see prospective Oscar winners, representing Croatia, Israel, Canada, Mauretania, Sweden, Hungary, Turkey, or Poland. We could see films which had won in Cannes and Venice and Berlin and Sundance. We could see films which will eventually open later in Hamburg cinemas.
Enjoy the reports from your 10 accredited journalists, writing in English on the following pages. We saw 85 films in 191 ”sittings.” Come along with us next year for the 23rd festival: October 1-10, 2015.