Press Releases

Press Release – 27 October 2022  exground filmfest 35: Full Program Revealed

Over 150 Films from 45 Countries // exground Specials with Supporting Events // Cash and Prize Packages Totalling Roughly 15,000€
The program for the 35th edition of exground filmfest is now available online at From 11 to 20 November, the festival will present over 150 films in its Wiesbaden partner venues, as well in cinemas in Darmstadt and Frankfurt am Main. From some 2,000 submissions, the curatorial team has selected the most compelling films from 45 countries. Following the in-person festival, select festival programming will be available for streaming from 21 to 24 November. In addition, exground filmfest’s YouTube channel will once again feature special content during the festival. In a total of six competitions, exground filmfest will award monetary prizes and prize packages valued at approximately 15,000 euros. 

Countries Represented, Supporting Program and Festival Venues
The selected films include 16 world premieres, seven international premieres, four European premieres and 30 German premieres. Additionally, 83 films are being screened for the first time in the Rhine-Main region. Germany is the most represented country, with 46 films, while Portugal, this year’s Focus country, is represented with 25 films. France comes in third place, with 23 French films and co-productions in the program. However, the program also features cinema nations that are often underrepresented in Germany, such as Myanmar, Chile, Kazakhstan, Cyprus and Qatar, for instance. There is also a short film series devoted to works from Iran.

The exground Specials promise a range of events, featuring film industry guests, art exhibitions and even the beloved exground Gong Showkaraoke and the annual film quiz held in the Marktkirche crypt. In addition, the audience can look forward to a silent film concert with guests Vortex and Nam-Khar at Murnau-Filmtheater. Electronically processing acoustic sound sources, voice and percussion in the scope of a special live ritual, the dark ambient group will lend Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 film HÄXAN a totally new effect. In the Marktkirche crypt, Bernd Brehmer’s VIEWER’S DIGEST program presents condensed highlights from film history in Super-8 format. Here, the audience is even encouraged to join in choosing which reels from the rich collection should be included in the evening’s viewing session.

In addition to the festival venues in Wiesbaden – Caligari FilmBühne, Murnau-Filmtheater, the Marktkirche crypt, Nassauischer Kunstverein and Literaturhaus Villa Clementine – select films from the Country Focus will also be shown again in Darmstadt (at programmkino rex) and Frankfurt am Main (at Pupille, the university campus cinema, and at Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum).

Film Program: Germany, Europe, USA and the World
The selection at exground filmfest is divided into the sections Made in Germany, American Independents, European Cinema, World Cinema and the youth days. As in the previous two years, for the 35th festival edition the audience will choose the winning film in the Made in Germany section, after the inmate jury from JVA Wiesbaden was again unable to resume its work due to Covid-19. The association Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V. is organising the competition and sponsoring “DAS BRETT”, the award for the best German film, from a selection comprised of four fiction features and two documentary films. In LIEBE ANGST (2022), we get to know Kim, who struggles every day with her fears, wishing to break the cycle of silence and finally speak about her childhood, about the past of her mother, who was still a child herself as her own mother was sent to Auschwitz, and about her mother’s brother, who committed suicide. Now, Kim finally attempts to get to the bottom of her family’s speechlessness. THE ORDINARIES (2022) also stands out as a particularly original work within the German selection – here the director undertakes an attempt to grapple with the word of cinema itself, as she relates the everyday lives and challenges of a film’s characters. Alongside Paula, a minor character no longer satisfied with her role, we enter a cinema world marked by supporting and leading roles, individuals with film defects, vapid dialogue in the background and equally vacuous talk used to drive the plot. THE ORDINARIES has already been honoured with four awards this year, including Best Debut Film at Munich International Film Festival. 

The European Cinema section assembles twelve highlights from major festivals. In this selection, true crime fans should definitely make sure to catch the Belgian documentary film FOR A FISTFUL OF FRIES (2021). In a highly entertaining manner, the film rolls out 20-year-old documentary material concerning a real case in classic black-and-white, featuring a healthy dose of character comedy as it evolves into a quirky, gripping thriller revolving around Inspector Lemoine and his team. MY EMPTINESS AND I (ES 2022) accompanies the French woman Raphi in her identity crisis: caught between her frustrating job in a Barcelona call centre, unpleasant dates and a gender transition that is proceeding rather haltingly, she dreams of nothing other than finding her Prince Charming and starting a traditional family. Alas, it appears that reality just won’t let that happen so easily. With great sensitivity, this character study depicts a transwoman’s path through a heteronormative world, one characterised by unusual decisions.

The American Independents section brings together three fiction features and three documentaries. The documentary film MUSIC PICTURES: NEW ORLEANS (2022) sets off on a journey into the USA’s music history, to a city that sees itself more than any other as the birthplace of US-American music. The film celebrates the city, with its blues, soul and jazz bands, as well as the significance of live concerts as an element that builds community in our society. BONNIE (2022) pays tribute to legendary casting director Bonnie Timmermann and provides deep insight into her unique casting process. Featuring never-before-seen audition material from major contemporary stars, BONNIE depicts a pioneer who changed cinema by giving minorities a chance and offering young generations new faces to look up to.

The World Cinema section presents current highlights from this year’s festival season, from Brazil, Chile, Morocco, Mexico, Myanmar, Palestine, Iran und the Philippines. exground filmfest is showing eleven documentaries and fiction features, including four national entries for Best International Film at the 2023 Academy Awards. UNTIL TOMORROW from Iran/France (2022) tells the story of Fereshteh, who simultaneously studies, works in a printing shop in Teheran and cares for her child on her own – a child unbeknownst to her parents. When her mother and father spontaneously announce plans to visit, Fereshteh has to find another temporary home for her child, aided by her best friend Atefeh. What follows is an odyssey through nocturnal Teheran that demonstrates how limited women’s options are in the theocratic state. In LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE (PHI 2022), protagonist Leonor Reyes, once an important player in the film world, flees from her reality, which is no longer shaped by success. When she doesn’t know how she’s going to pay her bills any more, she enters a screenplay competition, and begins playing around with an uncompleted script. Alas, one day she finds herself inside her own film, chasing the perfect ending to her story.

Competitions at exground filmfest
In a total of six competitions, exground filmfest is awarding monetary prizes and non-cash prize packages worth approximately 15,000 euros, including in the German Short Film Competition and the International Short Film Competition (IC), as well as in the Wiesbaden Short Film Competition. The jury for the 21st IC is composed of Portuguese filmmaker Isabel Aboim Ingez, Börries Müller-Büsching, professor at Rhein-Main University of Applied Sciences, and Swiss filmmaker Jonas Ulrich. 

In the scope of exground youth days, the best films for a young audience are competing for awards in the International Youth Film Competition and the Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition. The “exground Golden Cucumber” will also be awarded once again to the trashiest film from the Gong Show program. 

Tickets for the exground filmfest 35 program will be available from 27 October through, as well as via the exground filmfest app.

exground filmfest would like to thank all of its supporters and co-operation partners!

For press accreditation at exground filmfest 35, please feel free to contact us – we would be happy to send you our registration form.

Press Release 17 October 2022 – Country Focus: Connecting the Dots Between Portugal’s Cinema Legacy and the Contemporary Filmmaking of a New Generation

In addition to exploring various periods in Portuguese society and politics, the Country Focus Portugal at exground filmfest 35 also provides a representative look at the small country’s geographic diversity. The Country Focus connects the dots between Portugal’s recent history and the present moment, while examining what the coming years have in store for the world of Portuguese filmmaking. The ten fiction-features and documentaries included here, accompanied by a further 14 short films, tackle a range of topics, including social inequality, emigration, unemployment, (queer) friendship and love and the challenging of rules and norms.

The Country Focus is made possible once again with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain. This year, there will also once again be additional post-festival screenings at venues around the Rhine-Main region, hosted by REX in Darmstadt, Pupille-Kino on the University of Frankfurt campus and Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum.

With ALMA VIVA (2022), the exground filmfest program not only features director Cristèle Alves Meira’s feature-film debut – it is also proud to present Portugal’s entry for Best International Film at the upcoming Academy Awards. Set in Portugal’s mountainous northern region, the film depicts the special connection between young Salomé and her grandmother, who instructs her granddaughter step-by-step, every summer, in the techniques of spiritual conjuring. Alas, at some point the presence of the old woman’s ghostly legacy proves to be divisive within the family. WOLF AND DOG (2022) is set on the Azores, in São Miguel: here Ana and Luis learn to live out their queer identities and the complexity of their desire in the confines of an island community shaped by Christianity. With a vital, semi-documentary touch, the film moves within the local community and demonstrates that cultures and traditions, far from being monolithic, are instead quite hybrid and fluid. JACK’S RIDE (2021) tells a tale of emigration and return to today’s Portugal after decades abroad: on the verge of retirement, Joaquim is obliged by the employment office to make the rounds looking for jobs, to prove that no one wants to hire him anymore. On his strolls through sun-drenched Lisbon, the humorous man possessed with an inner calm reminisces about his days as a taxi and limousine driver in New York City. Revelling in experimentation, the documentary film SUPER NATURAL (2022) is remarkable for its continually evolving form and atmosphere. In collaboration with an inclusive dance troupe and Madeira’s Teatro Praga, filmmaker Jorge Jácome has created a vibrant, colourful spectacle revolving around the search for the supernatural.

Retrospective: Teresa Villaverde
With four fiction features and a short film, our homage to renowned filmmaker Teresa Villaverde offers insight into a creative career spanning three decades. With her debut ALEX (A IDADE MAIOR, 1991), featuring cinematography by DoP Elfi Mikesch, Villaverde tells the story of a boy whose father remains emotionally absent following his return from a colonial war. THE MUTANTS (OS MUTANTES, 1998) (1998) also deals with adolescents growing up in dysfunctional family situations. This drama, remarkable among other things for its dynamic camerawork and extraordinary formal language, features intensive scenes of rebellious youths on the streets of Lisbon, as they move aimlessly between freedom, desperation and vulnerability. 

Short Films in the Focus Program: Absent Parents and Experimental Forms from Female Filmmakers
As a fitting accompaniment to Villaverde’s debut film, in the ABSENT PARENTS series exground filmfest is presenting five short films that deal with mentally or physically absent parents and children coping with their lack of presence. A second short film program features experimental works by female filmmakers searching for new forms of expression and approaches to narrative, leading them among other places to a marvellous world of amalgamation, where animation, sound collages and colourful fragments collide.

Supporting Program for Focus Portugal
In addition to the exciting film selection, the Country Focus at exground filmfest 35 is accompanied by a rich supporting program. In the scope of a panel on Portuguese cinema, filmmakers and festival organisers will be discussing current trends and developments in the country’s film scene and the potential to be discovered in interdisciplinary approaches.

A reading from the German translation of Alfonso Reis Cabral’s novel “Pão de Açúcar” (“Aber Wir Lieben Dich”) will take place at Wiesbaden’s Literaturhaus Villa Clementine. The young author relates the true story of unhoused transwoman Gisberta, who is forced to the margins of society after an initial taste of success and now seeks shelter at an abandoned construction site in Porto.

In the supporting program, exground filmfest also grapples with Portugal’s colonial past. Partnering with Amnesty International, there will be a lecture treating the current political situation in Angola, following the elections of August 2022. In addition, one of the two exhibitions included in the Country Focus program also deals with this former Portuguese colony: Mónica de Miranda’s video exhibition PATH TO THE STARS at Nassauischer Kunstverein examines the stories of invisible “stars” – particularly women – who fought for Angolan independence and today struggle to gain recognition. The photo exhibition A TALE OF TWO CITIES, presented at Murnau-Filmtheater, explores socio-political issues of central importance in today’s Portugal. With a selection of images from his two series New Lisbon and How Portugal Won the War on Drugs, documentary photographer Gonçalo Fonseca illuminates Portuguese realities in connection with gentrification, the housing crisis and progressive drug policies.

The complete festival program will be revealed following the press conference (27 October, 11 a.m., Caligari FilmBühne) and will be available at

You can download a flyer featuring extensive program details for the Country Focus Portugal here.

exground filmfest would like to thank all its supporters and co-operation partners!

For press accreditation at exground filmfest 35, please feel free to contact us – we will be happy to send you our accreditation form!

End of press release

Press contact:
Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V.
exground filmfest
Marina Andrée

Press Release 11 October 2022  20 Short & Feature-Length Films Presented at 19th exground youth days 

This year, in the scope of the 19th edition of youth days, exground filmfest is showing 20 international short and feature-length films for a young film audience, focussing on the lived realities of young individuals. From12 to 16 November, young people from the ages of 12 and 16 can look forward to seven current film productions, each to be presented at Caligari FilmBühne and accompanied by a supporting film.

A GIRL RETURNED [L’ARMINUTA] (IT/CH 2021) by Giuseppe Bonito opens the youth film festival. Based on a novel, it tells the story of an adopted 13-year-old girl who is sent back to her unfamiliar birth family against her will. Not only does she have to come to terms with the mixed feelings that the new surroundings and ostensible reunion trigger in her – the social differences between her adoptive and original families also stand in the way of settling into her new everyday life.

Aysulu Onaran’s BALABAN (KAZ 2021) also portrays divergent circumstances: the Kazakh film revolves around two teenage girls (one from a wealthy family, the other growing up in an orphanage) who meet and fall in love. Both are living with a positive HIV diagnosis. Together, they soon hatch a plan to escape a life determined by the routine consumption of medications. 
PERFORMER (D 2022) focusses on Tim, who is about to graduate from high school and spends his last school days like a normal teenager, or at least so it seems from the outside. But at night, he’s busy shooting videos of himself, in which he performs masculinity, allows his misogyny to run free, speaks about his violent plans and yearns for revenge. Alas, the closer his self-declared judgement day comes, the harder it becomes for him to measure up to his archetypical image of masculinity.
The documentary film GIRL GANG (CH 2022)* shows the precipitous rise of young influencer Leonie. At the ripe age of 14, she is already a global star, delighting millions of followers every day, among other things by promoting products from large companies through her channels. When her parents recognise their daughter’s immense financial potential and begin to manage her, everyone is forced to realise the high toll that this business can take. 

International Youth Film Competition
Once again, this year the films in the competition will be vying for the title of best feature film at exground youth days. A youth jury will decide which director will get to take home prize money in the amount of 2,500 euros, sponsored by the State Capital of Wiesbaden. In addition, an audience award will be presented, endowed with a 1,000-euro prize by the State Capital of Wiesbaden.

Short Films at exground youth days 
A total of six short films, from Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Tunisia and New Zealand, will be shown before the program’s feature films: XSMALL (ES 2022) tells of the consequences of beauty norms, and how young girls cope with them. Full of anticipation, Tania tries on a new pair of pants at home that she wants to wear for the first time to an upcoming party, where she’d like to make a splash. Horrified, she is forced to concede that they don’t fit her – alas, wearing something else is not an option for Tania.

In SPOTLESS [VLEKKELOOS] (NL 2021), 15-year-old Ruby finds herself faced with her family’s poor financial situation when she gets her period. Since she doesn’t want to bother her mom, who works a ton and solo parents Ruby and her little sister, by asking her for money for tampons or sanitary pads, she resolves to solve the problem on her own. The animated film EDICIUS (TUN 2021) treats bullying and exclusion, showing the multi-facetted events that ultimately lead teenaged Omar to take his own life. The above-mentioned youth jury will also be selecting the best short film in the scope of exground youth days – the accompanying award is endowed with 500 euros in prize money, sponsored by Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V..

Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition
Wiesbaden-based directorial talents between the ages of 12 and 18 have the opportunity to present their own works on the big screen for the first time. The competition for the best Wiesbaden youth film, featuring seven productions, will open exground youth days this year at 3 p.m. on 12 November at Caligari FilmBühne. The competition is endowed with cash and non-cash prize packages valued at 650 euros. The event will be followed by a screening of Giuseppe Bonito’s A GIRL RETURNED [L’ARMINUTA].

The full festival program will be announced following the press conference (27 October, 11 a.m., Caligari FilmBühne) and will be available at

exground filmfest would like to thank all its supporters and co-operation partners!

* The screening of GIRL GANG on 16 November 2022 at 10:30 a.m. is exclusively intended for schools and students. If you are interested in more details, please contact Medienzentrum Wiesbaden e. V..


End of press release

Press contact:
Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V.
exground filmfest
Marina Andrée

Press Release 26 September 2022 
Save the Date: exground filmfest 35 Will Take Place from 11 to 20 November in Wiesbaden

Country Focus Portugal
From 11 to 20 November 2022, the 35th edition of exground filmfest will once again be presenting an extensive film and supporting program in Wiesbaden, Germany, featuring both short and feature-length works in the categories of fiction film, documentary, animation and experimental film. The diverse selection of German and international film productions will be accompanied by numerous discussions, exhibitions, readings, concerts as well as a new edition of exground youth days. 

This year, exground filmfest will be taking a closer look at Portugal: encompassing ten fiction features and documentary films as well as 14 short films, the Focus section places a host of young filmmakers centre stage, while also connecting the dots between past and present. Thematically, the Country Focus on Portugal explores how the will to create emancipatory art and lived democracy, amidst challenging social ruptures and the heavy legacy of more than 35 years of dictatorship, is reflected in particular in the cinematic work of a new generation. The young Portuguese film scene is especially remarkable for its courage in transcending established boundaries, such as that between documentation and fiction. Aside from the presentation of current short and feature-length productions, exground filmfest is devoting a retrospective to the work of filmmaker Teresa Villaverde, an internationally renowned director whose films are still relatively unknown in Germany. 

Opening Film WILL-O’-THE-WISP by João Pedro Rodrigues
exground filmfest 35 will open with WILL-O’-THE-WISP by João Pedro Rodrigues, a passionate musical in which two firefighters kindle a relationship. Alfredo, white and of noble blood, and Alfonso, black and from a working-class background, fall in love in a firehouse, where wild dancing and kissing occurs and the naked colleagues re-enact the works of famous painters in tantalising poses. Alas, for all its tongue-in-cheek satire, the film also manages to sketch out the social prerequisites for a successful fight against climate catastrophe: namely, sowing a new crop in the scorched terrain of gender, race and class.

Alongside numerous works of Portuguese cinematic art, exground filmfest will also be screening films both from the remaining states of Europe and beyond the continent’s borders. With the ensemble drama MARS ONE (BRA 2022), the Wiesbaden-based film festival features another work in Portuguese, this time a production from Brazil revolving around a family in flux – equally poetic and painful, the film follows the inner and outer struggles of the individual family members. Selected to represent Brazil at the 2023 edition of the Oscars, MARS ONE is characterised by queer love, parental expectations and political instability. The documentary A TASTE OF WHALE (FRA 2022) provides a rare glimpse into the practice of whaling on the Faroe Islands. In haunting images, the film reflects on an important global topic by focussing on the hunt for pilot whales. Sharing the perspectives of both whaling practitioners and anti-whaling activists, the film invites the viewer to examine and question the bloody tradition of “the grind”. BONNIE (USA 2022) pays tribute to the underappreciated and often misunderstood role of casting directors in the film industry by placing Bonnie Timmerman and her unique contribution to the filmmaking process in the spotlight. The documentary film illustrates how the renowned casting director’s work and devotion to authentic auditions have shaped today’s film and television landscape.

Photo Exhibition at Murnau-Filmtheater 
As part of the supporting program, from 12 to 19 November the exhibition TALE OF TWO CITIES featuring the work of Portuguese documentary photographer Gonçalo Fonseca will be on display in the foyer of Murnau Filmtheater. A combination of the series New Lisbon and How Portugal Won the War on Drugs, the exhibition sheds light on two key social topics. On one hand, the artist accompanies individuals affected by Lisbon’s housing crisis, camera in hand – unfortunately, as the Portuguese capital’s popularity has grown with guests from abroad, Lisbon’s families have increasingly suffered from the Airbnb industry, the exploding prices in the housing market and low wages. In addition, in his work Fonseca also explores the consequences of the decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal, documenting in the scope of a project realised between 2017 and 2021 the work of mobile assistance teams and monitored consumption spaces for addicts, who are now no longer approached as criminals, but instead primarily as individuals in need of help.

Streaming Option Following Live Festival 
As in the previous year, in light of the continued risks of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisational team is planning a two-track program, by conceiving the upcoming festival as a hybrid event. On one hand, the film and supporting programs are scheduled to take place in front of a live audience at Caligari FilmBühne, Murnau-Filmtheater and inside the Marktkirche crypt, in accordance with the public health and safety regulations in force for November, of course. Thanks to the further development of an on-demand model, the films and short-film programs will be exclusively available for streaming online within Germany for a limited period following the festival, using geo-blocking technology (21-24 November).

The complete program for exground filmfest 35 will be revealed at the festival press conference (on 27 October, 11 am, at Caligari FilmBühne), after which it will be available at

exground filmfest would like to thank all its supporters and co-operation partners!

End of press release

Press contact:
Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V.
exground filmfest
Marina Andrée