Press Releases

Press Release 11 November 2021: exground filmfest 34 Celebrates Opening

International Cinema Rendezvous Taking Place in Wiesbaden with Comprehensive Pandemic Safety Measures

This Friday evening, exground filmfest 34 is set to kick off at Caligari FilmBühne, with the opening film QUEEN OF GLORY by Nana Mensah, featuring an appearance by special guest camerawoman Cybel Martin. From 12 to 21 November, the festival is presenting over 150 independently produced feature-length and short films from 47 countries on the big screen, including 13 world premieres, five international premieres, two European premieres, 26 first-time screenings in Germany and numerous firsts for the Rhine-Main region. In addition to the film programme, guests can look forward to an exciting accompany programme, featuring panel discussions, exhibitions, a film quiz and a reading. Numerous film guests from Germany and abroad are expected to attend the festival in Wiesbaden, where they will share insight about their films with the local audience.


Multiple filmmakers featured in the programme for this year’s Country Focus on the USA will be in attendance, including directors Paul Felten (SLOW MACHINE) and James Finn (THE ANNOTATED FIELD GUILD OF ULYSSES S. GRANT), as well as camerawoman Cybel Martin (QUEEN OF GLORY) and short film auteur Timothy Rainbow (ENJOYING A NICE LIFE). For the panel discussion on the topic US CINEMA? WHAT IS THAT? IN SEARCH OF A NATIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY, film critic Beatrice Loayza and filmmaker Noel Lawrence will also be appearing.


Many film guests from Germany will also be attending the festival in person. For instance, for the screening of THE SHADOW HOUR on 18 November at 17:00 at Caligari FilmBühne, both director Benjamin Martins and cast members Christoph Kaiser, Beate Krist, Klaus Rodewald and Boris Becker will be on hand for a conversation. Director Ronny Trocker will be on hand for the screening of his film HUMAN FACTORS on 15 November at 19:30, and the screening of QUIET FREEDOM on 20 November at 17:30 will be accompanied by a talk with director Wendla Nölle. Guests representing other roles within the film world will also be in attendance. For instance, producer and screenwriter Marisa Meier (YOUTH TOPIA) and producer Christoph Holthof, together with actress Anna Blomeier (THE SEED), will also be in Wiesbaden to speak with the local audience.

Short Film Guests from Around the World

A particularly high number of short film creators will be heading for the Hessian state capital this year. For instance, director Philip Besamusca (LIONESS) and director Lara Aerts (GIRLSBOYSMIX) will be among the guests from Holland, while filmmakers Ceres Machado (AMATEURS) and Iker Esteibarlanda (BEFORE I DIE) will be coming from Spain. In addition, guests will also be coming from Great Britain (Jeb Hardwick for METEOR), France (Alexandre Manzanares for TREASURE), Serbia (Bojana Babić for FERAL), Singapore (Mun Chee Yong for 21 DAYS) and Israel (Sharon Israeli for TOURISTS) to present their films personally to the Wiesbaden audience.

International Jury for the International Short Film Competition

Appropriately enough, this year’s jury for the International Short Film Competition (endowed with a cash prize of 2,000 euros for the best international short film) is composed of three members from three different countries. Film producer Brendan Conway will be travelling to Wiesbaden from the USA, while Spanish-Luxemburgish cult film director and Oscar winner Alexander Espigares will be coming from the Rheingau, his adopted home. The jury will be rounded out by native Wiesbadener Karin Hoffinger, director of the Berlinale’s international relations department.

Covid-19 Related Restrictions for International Gathering

This year, in order to guarantee a smooth and safe festival experience, some pandemic-related restrictions still apply for all national and international guests as well as audiences on site. All events are taking place under “2-G” standards (meaning access is available for individuals who are vaccinated or have recovered from a Covid-19 infection). Face masks are required in all cinemas and festival venues until guests have occupied their assigned seats, which will be laid out in a staggered, checkerboard pattern to promote proper distancing. All further social distancing guidelines are to be observed, as usual.

For interview requests and a complete list of guests, please contact


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Press Release 03 November 2021: Tickets and On Demand Offer

Cinema Tickets on Sale Now // On-Demand Platform Online Soon

The 34th edition of exground filmfest is set to take place from 12 to 21 November, with a hybrid approach featuring a return to the big screen in Wiesbaden and a wide range of online programming. While the local audience and guests from beyond the Rhine-Main region will be able to enjoy the complete programme in person, comprising more than 150 films, unfortunately not all of the individual films can be made available for screening online. Still, a very generous selection has been cleared for viewing on-demand, enabling those fans unable to attend personally to partake of the festival flair. In addition, a number of events, including the opening and award ceremonies, will be streamed live and archived online for those following along from home.

Ten-Pack and Cultural Tickets // Free Admission

Advance tickets for cinema screenings and “exground xtra” events in Wiesbaden are now available both at the box office and online. They can be purchased in person in Wiesbaden at the tourist information counter at Marktplatz and the cinema box office at Caligari FilmBühne. Online ticket purchases can be made via the exground filmfest website.

Tickets can be purchased for individual screenings and events as well as in special packs of ten at the Caligari FilmBühne box office. The ten-pack tickets are valid for all events, with the exception of the German Short Film Competition. Individual tickets are also available at a discount for those who qualify.

All admission tickets for exground filmfest 34 featuring the “Kulturticket/Kombi­ticket” stamp entitle the bearer to free use of public transportation to and from the festival venue within the entire region served by the Rhine-Main Public Transportation Association (RMV). This offer is valid starting 5 hours before the beginning of the event until the end of the RMV service day.

But not all of the festival events require a ticket! Many of the events in the accompanying “xtra” programme are free of charge, including the film quiz, the exground Gong Show, the reading of US-American literature and the panel discussion on US cinema.

You can find a full list of the free events as well as all relevant information on prices and pre-sales here.

exground filmfest On Demand


all of the feature film and short film programmes can be viewed via the exground On-Demand Platform. Individual films or programmes are available for streaming for a 72-hour period following their initial cinema screenings during the festival. After purchasing and starting playback on the platform, viewers have a total of 24 hours to watch the film or programme in question.

You can find more information about system requirements as well as account and login details for the platform here.


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Press Release 21 October 2021 – Programme revealed

Over 150 Films from 47 Countries // World and European Cinema // Socially Critical Themes and Unusual Insights into Other Cultures // Cash and Non-Cash Prizes Valued at Over 18,000 Euros

The programme for the 34th edition of exground filmfest is now available online. From 12 to 21 November, the festival is presenting over 150 films from 47 countries in its traditional Wiesbaden venues. In assembling the programme, the curatorial team viewed over 1,600 films from 93 countries. As in the previous year, the festival will also feature an on-demand programme. The exground filmfest YouTube channel will also once again serve as a platform for various live and archived event streams, including the festival opening and awards ceremony, as well as industry events and film talks. The festival boasts no less than seven competition sections, featuring cash and non-cash prizes valued at over 18,000 euros.

“We are very happy that we were able to view so many exciting new films this year, in spite of the aggravated production conditions,” explained festival organiser Andrea Wink at today’s press conference: “It is enormously important for us to be able to return to the big screen again with the selected programme, since we would like to maintain the cinema as a space for encounters.”

Country Statistics, Accompanying Programme and Venues

The 2021 selection includes a host of firsts: namely, 13 world premieres, five international premieres, two European premieres and 26 German premieres. In addition, 59 films will be celebrating their first screenings in the Rhine-Main region. As in 2020, Germany leads the pack in the country statistics, with 49 films, while the Focus Country, the USA, takes second place, with 26 films, followed closely by France, with 19. However, lesser-known cinema nations are also represented within the programme, like Montenegro, Qatar, the Dominican Republic and Singapore.

Alongside the film selection, guests can look forward to a rich accompanying programme in the scope of exground-Xtras, which features industry events, art exhibitions and cult happening like the beloved exground Gong Show and the festival’s Film Quiz. In his LES ANNÉES SCOPITONES programme in the Marktkirche crypt, Bernd Brehmer will present the forerunners of the modern music video format, clips that were played back in the 1960s in a jukebox-like device featuring a monitor. His selection of Scopitones treasures on original 16mm reels ranges from Sylvie Vartan and Petula Clark all the way to Debbie Reynolds or Alice and Ellen Kessler.

Aside from the established venues in Wiesbaden, Caligari FilmBühne, Murnau-Filmtheater, the Marktkirche church crypt and Nassauischer Kunstverein, selected films from the Country Focus will also be shown again in Darmstadt (programmkino rex) and Frankfurt am Main (Pupille – Kino in der Uni).

Film Programme: Germany, Europe and the World

In addition to the extensive programme in the Country Focus USA, the feature film selection is primarily structured according to geographic criteria. Joining the perennial favourite Made in Germany section this year are the European Cinema and World Cinema series. In accordance with exground filmfest’s transnational credo, one can find films from every continent here, which provide comprehensive insight into manifold cinematic schools and languages.

Among other films in the German selection, Ronny Trocker’s HUMAN FACTORS (Germany/Italy/Denmark, 2021) is captivating cinema. Featuring a star-studded cast, the film tells of conflict and distrust in a modern, affluent family. In staging the story, the award-winning director placed great importance on weaving the audience as tightly as possibly into the familial entanglements here, through deft camerawork.

The drama LEAVE NO TRACES (Poland, 2021), the Polish candidate for this year’s Academy Awards, may also soon be a prize-winner. Director Jan P. Matuszyński’s political film about the aftermath of a police murder treats repression, militarisation and the importance of civil rights.

Ana Katz’ absurd black-and-white film THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET (Argentina, 2021) uses short episodes to relate the life of graphic designer Sebastián, as he attempts to find his way in life, caught between deep love for his dog and an approaching disaster.

The short film programme also mirrors the international diversity of exground filmfest: in addition to a selection of Iranian films, there will also be a Short Film Reel World Journey, in which four short documentary films bear witness to everyday realities around the world.

Social (In)Justice and Critique

A large number of the works in the feature film programme are not afraid to formulate courageous critiques of society. Social injustice, lived reality for migrants, repression of women, queer life and the right to a future – the voices for a better and fairer world are loud in the exground filmfest programme.

For instance, the film BANTU MAMA by Ivan Herrera (Dominican Republic, 2021) deals with the fate of Emma, a French woman with African roots fleeing the police, who decides to hide in Santo Domingo. In the midst of a Black diaspora, she finds a home here in a community of three orphaned children.

In the documentary film LUCHADORAS (Germany/Mexico, 2021), Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasmin paint a portrait of three female Mexican wrestlers. Raised in Juárez, a city shaken to the core by the drug war, they fight self-assuredly against received gender roles and for justice.

YOUTH TOPIA (Germany/Switzerland, 2021) by Dennis Stormer and Marisa Meier depicts a dystopian society, in which every individual’s life is determined by algorithms. When the latter assigns none other than Peter-Pan-esque protagonist Wanja a position as a privileged architect, she has to decide whether or not she intends to grow up.

Competitions at exground filmfest

In a total of seven competition sections, exground filmfest awards cash and non-cash prizes valued at over 18,000 euros. The jury for the 19th International Short Film Competition consists of Brendon Conway, New York film producer, Alexander Espigares, animated film director from Luxemburg, and Karin Hoffinger, director of international relations at the Berlinale.

Tickets for the programme of exground filmfest 34 will be available starting 29 October via


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Press Release 18 October 2021 – 18th exground youth days: 13 feature-length and short films from around the world

The 18th edition of exground youth days, the youth film section of exground filmfest, will take place from 13 to 17 November 2021. A total of seven feature-length and six short films will be vying for combined prize money of 4,000 euros in the International Youth Film Competition. Four of the seven productions featured in this year’s multifaceted feature-film selection were directed by women, while the full competition encompasses films from no less than eleven countries.

International Youth Film Competition: Young Protagonists, Serious Subjects

The competition will open at 17:30 on 13 November with the film ANY DAY NOW (Finland, 2020) by Hamy Ramezan. This migration drama depicts the Mehdipour family’s loving home life in a Finnish refugee centre, with a particular focus on 13-year-old Ramin. Between the constant fear of a rejected asylum request and the joys and uncertainties of coming of age, the film paints a deeply moving portrait of a community where hope is writ large.

Cristiane Oliveira’s THE FIRST DEATH OF JOANA (LA PRIMEIRA MORTE DE JOANA, Brazil/France, 2021) follows 13-year-old Joana as she explores the enigma of her great aunt Rosa, who died at the age of 70 without ever having gone out with a man. Joana wants to understand why. Alas, while pursuing clues about Rosa’s life, Joana also begins to learn a lot about herself.

In the community portrayed in Dina Duma’s SISTERHOOD (SESTRI, North Macedonia/Kosovo/ Montenegro, 2021), everything revolves around likes, followers and digital reach on social media. Totally alienated from the real world and genuine interpersonal relationships, the two friends Jana and Maya have to face the consequences of their manipulative behaviour and learn to take responsibility for their actions.
Short Films at exground youth days

In the International Youth Film Competition, six international short films, each to be screened before a feature film, take a look at the living situations of adolescent protagonists. For the third time, the youth jury will be presenting an award for the best short film, endowed with a 500-euro prize sponsored by Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V..

In her short documentary GIRLSBOYSMIX (MEISJESJONGENSMIX, Netherlands, 2020), director Lara Aerts shares a portrait of intersexual child Wen Long. Without mincing words, the bright youngster calls out prejudices, while also opening up about personal insecurities.

Gender identity beyond binary conceptions is also treated in the animation ALL THOSE SENSATIONS IN MY BELLY (SVE TE SENZACIJE U MOM TRBUHU, Croatia/Portugal, 2020). With a dynamic and colourful illustration style, director Marko Dješka tells the story of transwoman Matia, who longs more than anything to have a loving relationship.

LIONESS (LEEUWIN, Netherlands, 2020) by Philip Besamusca is celebrating its German premiere in the scope of exground youth days. With great empathy, the film approaches the dilemma of pregnant underage protagonist Sylvie, who lives in a youth facility and must make a decision about the future of her unborn child.

In the Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition, local filmmaking talents between the ages of 12 and 18 have the opportunity to present their works on the big screen for the first time. The competition, which features cash and non-cash prizes valued at 650 euros, will open this year’s exground youth days at 15:00 on 13 November, after an unfortunate cancellation last year due to the pandemic.

All information are available on the youth days flyer.

The full programme of exground youth days will be revealed on 21 October in the scope of the exground filmfest press conference.

exground filmfest would like to thank all of its funders and sponsors.
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Press Release – Save the Date: exground filmfest 34 to take place from 12 to 21 November

Back on the Big Screen // Country Focus USA // Video Art

From 12 to 21 November 2021, exground filmfest will finally be returning to cinemas for its 34th edition. After last year’s festival edition was forced to forego its original hybrid concept for an exclusively online version on short notice, the film programme, featuring myriad gems of international indie cinema, can finally take place live and in-person in Hessen’s state capitol of Wiesbaden and the surrounding area. With a public health approach suitable for the ongoing pandemic situation, festival events will be spread out over various venues, with Caligari FilmBühne, Murnau-Filmtheater and the Marktkirche crypt once again hosting the heart of the action for this popular festival that has taken place annually since its inception in 1990. However, exground filmfest 34 will also feature online programming: a large number of the festival films will be available on-demand, while film talks and panel discussions, as well as the festival opening and award ceremonies, will be streamed live on exground’s own YouTube channel.

Opening Film QUEEN OF GLORY by Nana Mensah

With the USA, this year exground filmfest has chosen to focus on a country to which the festival has devoted attention in its established “American Independents” section for years. The opening film will kick off the festival and mark the start of this deep look at a diverse nation: QUEEN OF GLORY represents a sort of triple crown performance for Nana Mensah, who wrote, directed and stars in the insightful comedy. With copious humour, the film tells the story of brilliant PhD candidate Sarah Obeng, who attempts to find her way between the decision to be with her partner in Ohio and the unexpected death of her Ghanaian mother. Mensah already won the Best Director Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for this empathetic look at migrant identity among the different everyday realities present in the USA.

In addition, Lance Oppenheim’s documentary film SOME KIND OF HEAVEN provides a glimpse behind the curtains of the retired life in a gated community in Florida known as “The Villages”, where over 100,000 pensioners have lived for several decades in a seemingly Utopian paradise.

However, exground filmfest also promises exciting work beyond the Country Focus programme: Leos Carax’s fantastic musical ANNETTE (FRA, 2021), about the relationship between a stand-up comedian and an opera singer, already managed to delight audiences as the opening film in Cannes, while Sebastian Meise’s GREAT FREEDOM (AUT, 2021) which tells the story of Hans Hoffmann, a gay man in post-war Germany persecuted for his sexuality, was awarded the Jury Prize at the French festival.

Video Art at Nassauischer Kunstverein

Starting on 23 September 2021, the Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden will be showing the eight-part video art series 2 LIZARDS by Orian Barki and Meriem Bennani, in co-operation with exground filmfest. In the European premiere of this programme, the two artists employ computer-animated animals to explore questions of sociality in a world dominated by a pandemic. In the roughly three-minute-long videos, Barki and Bennani adopt a mockumentary style to tell stories inspired by their own experiences, in an absurd commentary on the everyday reality of an entire generation. The video series came to MoMa’s attention in New York City, after the two artists gained huge popularity on social media practically overnight.

The full programme for exground filmfest 34 will be announced following the festival press conference (21 October, 11:00 am CET, Caligari FilmBühne).

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Press contact:
Wiesbadener Kinofestival e.V.
exground filmfest
Sophie Brakemeier
Phone: +49 1633412883