presse release: youth days @ exground filmfest 31: Turbulent and Challenging
RAFIKI (©Ape&Bjørn)

Press Release
8 October 2018

youth days @ exground filmfest 31: Turbulent and Challenging

22 Films from 15 Countries // New Jury Award // Renewed Commitment to Supporting Young Refugees

From 17 to 22 November, in the scope of exground filmfest (16-25 November, 2018) the 15th edition of exground youth days will present an exciting programme featuring extraordinary productions from 15 countries. Fourteen short and eight feature-length films provide insight into the turbulent and often challenging everyday lives of children and adolescents. New this year is a youth jury award for best short film, with a cash prize of 500 euros sponsored by Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V., the organisation behind the annual festival. This brings the value of the cash and non-cash prizes up for grabs in the Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition and International Youth Film Competition to a grand total of 4,650 euros. In addition, exground filmfest is continuing its commitment to supporting young refugees by offering a series of film workshops and an opportunity to participate in the youth jury.



International Youth Film Competition: Transgender Challenges, Dealing with Homophobia & the Search for Identity

With this year’s programme for the exground youth days, we are offering even more unique glimpses into the lived realities of young people around the world, for instance in Palestine and Kenya,” explained curator Gerald Pucher. “The films treat political topics that are highly relevant for the present moment, such as homophobia, the status of women in societies outside of Europe, as well as aspects of sexual and gender identity.”


In Lukas Dhont’s calm debut film GIRL, 15-year-old Lara (played by Victor Polster) is devotedly pursuing her big dream of becoming a ballerina. Aside from following the tough regimen at the ballet academy, Lara is also trying to prepare for upcoming gender-reassignment surgery in order to finally be able to feel like she is in the right body for her. GIRL received multiple awards in Cannes (including the FIPRESCI Award, the Queer Palm and best actor for Victor Polster). On 17 November at 5:30 pm, GIRL will open this year’s edition of exground youth days at Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne cinema.

Lisa Brühlmann’s multi-award-winning fiction feature debut BLUE MY MIND is also about transformation. In the film, 15-year-old Mia (Luna Wedler) attempts to be accepted into the fold by the cool kids at her new school, diving headfirst into wild teenage territory in the process. Then Mia’s body begins to change in a strange way – at first barely noticeably, though soon the change becomes massive, and unstoppable. With its mixture of coming-of-age and fantasy tropes, BLUE MY MIND has already won over audiences and critics at various film festivals and been honoured with a host of prizes, including three at the Swiss Film Awards (for best fiction feature, best screenplay and best female lead).

With Desiree Akhavan’s bitter-sweet drama THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, the youth days are presenting a further award-winning work (here the recipient of the Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival) within the programme of the International Youth Film Competition. The film is set in Montana in the early 1990s: after orphaned Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught having sex with her girlfriend Coley, her archconservative relatives send her to a re-education camp. Desiree Akhavan approaches this serious subject with touching humour and a libidinous sense of defiance.

The love between two women in conflict with society’s conventions is also at the centre of Wanuri Kahiu’s cheerily colourful film RAFIKI. Female friends Kena and Ziki rebel against the male-dominated rules of Kenyan society and dream of a self-determined future. When the two fall in love with one another, they are forced to choose between happiness and safety. This first-ever Kenyan production to be featured in Cannes was banned in its homeland due to the fact that homosexual acts are subject to penalty by law in Kenya. A temporary lifting of the ban enabled RAFIKI to qualify for the competition for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards.

Christy Garland’s also has an unconventional story in store for us in her documentary film WHAT WALAA WANTS. Born and raised in a refugee camp, young Palestinian Walaa only has one goal on her mind: instead of marrying young and having children, she wants to become a police officer for the Palestinian National Authority. Garland accompanies the rebellious young woman in the period from her 15th to 20th year, as she undauntedly pursues her dream.

Short Films at exground youth days

In the International Youth Film Competition, seven international short films, each to be shown before a feature-length film, take a deep dive into the lived realities of young protagonists. This year for the first time the youth jury will also be presenting an award for the best short film, including a cash prize of 500 euros sponsored by Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V.

Among other works, the competition features the Dutch production SOMETHING ABOUT ALEX (ANDERS) by Reinout Hellenthal, in which outsider Alex is caught up in a search for self in the constricting environment of a tiny village. The Spanish production PIGGY (CERDITA) by Carlota Pereda shows the consequences an involuntary appearance in a bikini has for overweight Sara. In Laura Moss’ coming-of-age tale FRY DAY from the USA, young Lauryn attempts to earn a little spending money with Polaroids of curious onlookers who gathered in front of the prison on the night of Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989.

In the Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition, the local directorial talents behind seven short films in total have the chance to present their work on the big screen for the first time.

Active Film Work with Young Refugees: Film Workshop, Youth Jury & exground Youth Film of the Month

As in the previous years, exground filmfest is offering young refugees opportunities to engage actively with the medium of film. In a film workshop to take place during exground filmfest, participants will create a stop motion film that will then be screened in the scope of exground youth days.

In addition, the festival was once again able to convince young refugees to serve as members of the youth jury for the International Youth Film Competition. Together with young natives of Wiesbaden, they will view all of the entries to the competition and finally present the award for best feature film, endowed with prize money in the amount of 2,500 euros by the State Capital of Wiesbaden, as well as a new cash prize of 500 euros for the best short film entry.

Outside of the festival period itself, exground filmfest has been presenting the exground youth film of the month throughout the entire year, going all the way back to 2005. The international productions shown here invite the young audience, including young refugees, to take part in discussions and active work with film under the guidance of a trained media educator.

The program for exground youth days can be seen in full here: PDF Download

The full programme for exground filmfest 31 will be available online at from mid-October 2018.

exground filmfest would like to thank all of its supporters and sponsors.