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Let's Get the Party Started
by Marinell Haegelin

The 32nd International Kurz(Short)FilmFestival (IKFF) kicked off in the Zeise Kino foyer on a sultry, but dry, Tuesday  evening. A small team was kept busy pouring complimentary begrüßen (welcome) drinks, bubbly Sekt (wine) and mineral water. People mingled, meeting and  greeting. Filmfest Hamburg’s (FF HH) Albert Wiederspiel and Kathrin Kohlstedde  were spotted. Sven Schwarz, co-director of IKFF—ranked globally among the top  ten shorts festivals—paused to say hello to Film Group members attending: Becky  T., Shelly S., Marinell H., Nancy T., and Doris E., a FF HH industry accredited  colleague. Approaching 19:30, the cinema doors opened, attendees streamed in,  and once the sound caught up with the festival trailer’s visual people settled  down.

The Austrian comedian, Ruth Rockenschaub, was  again the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies (MC). Her somber attire reflected  the message she pummeled the audience with: The Kulturbehörde (cultural authority) is tightening the screws on  available funding. Which is critical to IKFF, and many cultural venues in  Hamburg – duh, no surprise considering the indecently over-budget and -schedule  Elbe Philharmonic. Ms. Rockenschaub then unhurriedly introduced (yawn) each  competition category’s jury members: five categories, thirteen individuals.

Co-directors Sven Schwarz, then Birgit  Glombitza, spoke separately about the festival, with persistent interruptions  from the MC: she lost the audience early, droning on about IKFF’s tough  financial situation. Then KurzFilmAgentur (KFA) Executive Director Alexandra Gramatke expounded on the various divisions  under the agency’s umbrella. She and Rockenschaub seemed unaware that both the  festival program and website contain this, and more, information. In a stuffy  cinema, and with an audience whose patience was stretched by this point,  concise would have been better. Throughout, three short films were shown, plus  two from the Three-minute Quickie competition – a meager offering from a film  festival. More films and shorter talks would have gone a long way with the  audience.

Finally back in fresh air, many meandered the  approximately 200 meters to IKFF Festivalzentrum’s  (festival center) last hall standing of the 100plus-year-old manufacturing  complex. Industrious and creative, the festival team constructed containers to  accommodate and extend Kolbenhof’s Halle 5 for viewing purposes, and a studio for the Animation Hotline, IKFF’s  innovative and imaginative approach for a festival trailer. In honor of Québec,  2016’s focus country, tasty Steinpilzsuppe (mushroom soup) with a slice of baguette and marinated Lachs (salmon) were offered. Serving in the Innenhof (courtyard) with its picnic tables, standing barrels,  chairs, and areas to relax, a DJ warmed up in a neighboring room and people  lined up to watch films from the viewing platform, as the atmosphere warmed up  for the start of a weeklong (cinematic-plus) party.