121 Films from 45 Countries // Themes: Strong Female Figures and Family Bonds // Klaus Lemke Special Feature // DAS BRETT Adapted as Audience Award for 2020 // Cash and Non-Cash Prizes Valued at 17,500 Euros
The programme for the 33rd edition of exground filmfest is now available online. For this hybrid Covid-19 edition, the festival, which runs from 13 to 22 November, will present a total of 121 independently produced short and feature-length films from 45 countries in its various Wiesbaden venues. In co-operation with new partners Festivalscope and Shift72, exground is excited to be able to share large portions of the film programme via remote streaming in the scope of an on-demand offer. For the first time, the festival opening and awards ceremony will be broadcast live, and panels and film talks will be recorded for presentation on the festival’s YouTube channel. This year, the curatorial team reviewed over 2,000 submissions from 111 countries. A total of six competitions feature cash and non-cash prizes valued at 17,500 euros.
“We are very happy that we managed to master the many challenges this year has presented so far and have put together a high-quality festival programme in the scope we’ve grown accustomed to,” Andrea Wink from the festival team explained at today’s press conference. “We hope that guests will come out to our Wiesbaden venues and can only encourage everyone to take advantage of our on-demand offer as well.”
The film selection includes eight world premieres, one international premiere, three European premieres and no less than 30 German premieres. Germany leads the country-of-origin ranking with 41 productions, followed by country-in-focus Italy (20) and France (10). The programme also features films from Albania, Guatemala, Iraq, Columbia and Uruguay, to name but a few of the many regions represented this year.
Trailer for exground filmfest 33: TRANSGRESS BORDERS
This year’s festival trailer TRANSGRESS BORDERS (Germany, 2020) by Martin Gessner is an impressive demonstration of how the means of cinema can help to overcome boundaries, which seem to be materialising more and more these days, whether on a personal, social or political level.
Film Programme: Strong Female Presence and Family Bonds
The short and feature films of the competition programmes are characterised by a balanced gender ratio behind the camera: around half of the productions here are from female directors, as is the case for instance for seven of the 13 feature-length films in the “Made in Germany” and “International Youth Film Competition” sections.
From a thematic point of view, diverse films in the programme deal with strong female characters and family bonds. In the French-Canadian western homage SAVAGE STATE (2019) [L‘ÉTAT SAUVAGE] by David Perrault, for once women are not merely decorative objects, but instead have Colt 45s firmly in hand.
In Adam Carter Rehmeier’s DINNER IN AMERICA (USA, 2020), weirdo loner Patty (Emily Skeggs) dutifully ignores supposed beauty norms. Together with restless punk rocker Simon (Kyle Gallner), she heads out on a wild road trip through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest.
Strong family bonds figure heavily in Lena Knauss’ debut film TAGUNDNACHTGLEICHE (Germany, 2020). Alexander seems to have finally encountered the love of his life in the form of variety artist Paula. When he meets her family after Paula’s sudden accidental death, Alexander also feels attracted to her sister Marlene, as he increasingly loses himself, torn between the two women and deep connections.
No less than two documentary films offer a look at family histories: while in WALCHENSEE FOREVER (Germany, 2020) Janna Ji Wonders impressively relates the story of her family over the course of an entire century, in DISPLACED (Germany, 2020) Sharon Ryba-Kahn takes a deep dive into her father’s past. A descendant of Shoah survivors, Ryba-Kahn attempts to speak to her father about his own father’s life during the Holocaust, which proves difficult.
Criticism of reigning social and political conditions makes up a further thematic focus in this year’s exground programme. In THE EVENING HOUR (USA, 2020), director Braden King adapts Carter Sickels’ novella of the same name. Here, 30-year-old eldercare giver Cole Freeman earns a little money on the side as a drug dealer in a post-industrial Appalachian small town, in what is an indictment of the devastating consequences mining companies have wrought on society and nature.
Arun Karthick’s NASIR (India/Netherlands, 2020) delivers an exposé on the lives of second-class citizens in an intolerant society. In spite of gruelling labour and constricting circumstances, the film’s eponymous protagonist manages not to lose his positive mood and faith in goodness, though, as a Muslim in Southern India, he is vulnerable to increasingly brutal Hindu nationalism.
MASEL TOV COCKTAIL (Germany, 2020) by Arkadij Khaet and Mickey Paatzsch deals with the current status quo of German-Jewish identity. Dimitrij Liebermann (19), who is Jewish, is supposed to apologise to Tobi for hitting him in the face. On his way to Tobi’s place, Dimitrij is faced again and again with a struggle he must overcome, a struggle with his German-Jewish identity. The multi-award-winning 30-minute film is being shown at exground filmfest in the MiG 3-pack along with two other medium-length films.
Special Klaus Lemke Feature
In honour of Klaus Lemke, who just recently celebrated his 80th birthday, exground filmfest is screening two of his newest productions. The very definition of the independent filmmaker, Klaus Lemke shuns the German film funding system and shoots what really captivates him on shoestring budgets.
In A CALLGIRL FOR GHOSTS (Germany, 2020), a deadly blonde driving a white Ford Gran Torino disposes of her admirers in the canals of Venice. This black comedy, shot in carefree pre-Covid Munich in 2019, is the final instalment in Lemke’s MAXVORSTADT-BALLADEN trilogy.
Finally, with BAD BOY LEMKE, the German DIY master has created a platform for his unfinished projects. Even the works he has condemned to the rubbish bin over the years are radical and powerful!
Competitions at exground filmfest
In a total of six competitions, exground filmfest is awarding cash and non-cash prizes valued at 17,500 euros (overview of all awards). The jury of the 19th International Short Film Competition consists of Alexandra Gramatke, managing director of Kurzfilm Agentur Hamburg, Thomas Johnson, artist and filmmaker from Great Britain, and Marion Klomfass, festival director of Nippon Connection from Frankfurt am Main.
Unfortunately, the award DAS BRETT cannot be presented by the inmate jury this year due to Covid-19. For this reason, the non-profit association behind exground filmfest, Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V., has decided to sponsor the prize itself and let the cinema audience pick the winning film.