press release: Full Program Online

200 films from 52 countries // 64 premieres // cash and non-cash prizes valued at over 20,000€ // new event location in church crypt

The full program for exground filmfest 32 is now available online and advance ticket sales are also now open. From 15 to 24 November, the Wiesbaden-based festival is set to present a total of 200 independently produced short and feature-length films from 52 countries, including 18 world premieres, four international premieres, six European premieres and 36 first-ever screenings in Germany. This year the team of curators reviewed over 2,500 submissions from 121 countries. Finally, a host of cash and non-cash prizes valued at over 20,000 euros will be awarded at the festival in the scope of seven distinct competitions.

In addition to the film program, guests can look forward to an exciting supporting program featuring panel discussions, exhibitions, parties and events including traditional audience favourites like the exground Gong Show and the annual film quiz with Rex Kramer. The latter will take place inside the Marktkirche crypt, a new festival location hosting select events from the program. Aside from the crypt, established festival venues Caligari FilmBühne, Murnau-Filmtheater and Kulturzentrum Schlachthof will also be opening their doors once again to festival attendees. Select films from the Country Focus on Brazil will also be screening outside of Wiesbaden as well, in Darmstadt (programmkino rex) and Frankfurt am Main (Pupille Kino, Orfeo’s Erben). 

Trailer POSTCARDS FROM BRAZIL exground filmfest 32 © Martin Gessner

Strong Women on Both Sides of the Camera

The proportion of female filmmakers present for the entire exground film program amounts to 60% this year. In the competition sections, the ratio between male and female directors is roughly equal. For instance, five of the eight productions in the International Youth Film Competition were directed by women (JAWLINE, THE ORPHANAGE, PAPICHA, FLESH OUT and YOUR TURN).

Many of the works in the program also feature a thematic focus on strong female figures. In Andreas Horvath’s LILLIAN (Austria, 2019), the eponymous heroine, a Russian émigré stranded in New York, wants to return to her homeland on foot. Horvath’s visually stunning road movie is based on a true story.

Costa Rica’s official Oscar submission HORMIGAS (Costa Rica/Spain, 2019) by Antonella Sudasassi Furniss deals with notions of womanhood in a traditional family. As a “good” mother, wife and daughter-in-law, Isabel looks after her family.  Increasing pressure to have another child, a coveted male heir to continue the family name, sends her imagination spinning off in another direction. Lead actress Daniella Valenciano will be making the trip to Wiesbaden for the festival.

In her female-centric western THE WIND (USA, 2018), which is celebrating its German premiere at exground filmfest, Emma Tammi traces the fate of the wives who followed their husbands out into the no man’s land of the US-American frontier to work the soil in the period around 1800. The experience drove many of them mad – such is the case for Lizzy, who finds herself stranded out in a wasteland with her beloved Isaac. Supported by a team featuring plenty of female power (including cinematography and editing), Tammi depicts the rough lot drawn by these women in magnificent landscape shots and haunting imagery of isolation.

Music Films

In his documentary MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE (Australia, 2019), Richard Lowenstein examines the tragic life of a pop-rock frontman. Employing previously unreleased materials, Lowenstein immerses himself in the mental world of INXS singer Michael Hutchence, who took his own life in 1997. Companions like Kylie Minogue and Paula Yates share their memories of the exceptional entertainer here.

The German production LEIF IN CONCERT (2019), directed by Christian Klandt, is a love letter to music and an homage to the sort of home-away-from-home that everyone knows. The film depicts a single turbulent day in a jazz and blues bar somewhere in Germany, where barmaid Lene has booked musician Leif (aka “Poorboy”) to play a show in the evening. Friends and acquaintances drop by, along with delivery personnel – and no pub would be complete without the regulars of course (here with cameos by Bela B and Tilo Prückner). Director Christian Klandt is expected to attend the festival.

Filmmaker Joel Zito Araújo is also planning to come to Wiesbaden to present his documentary MY FRIEND FELA (Brazil, 2019). The film sheds light on the complicated life of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti, going beyond the familiar narrative of the eccentric pop star who emerged from the ghetto. Araújo has managed to create a portrait of an entire pan-African generation in addition to paying tribute to a unique creative spirit.

Socially Critical Cinema

A number of productions in the exground filmfest program take a look at society from a critical angle. In the directorial debut FARMING (Great Britain, 2018), Nigerian-British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje draws on his own life story: as the son of Nigerian immigrants, Enitan must first adjust to life under the care of a white family in London, before trying to get his bearings in the unfamiliar homeland of his parents. Traumatised and back in London, Enitan must then endure trouble with skinheads, prompting him to take an unusual step.

In Ulaa Salim’s fiction feature SONS OF DENMARK (Denmark, 2019), a bombing attack fuels the further radicalisation of society. While an ultra-right nationalist makes a bid for the office of prime minister, on the other end of the spectrum 19-year-old Zakaria joins the Muslim-extremist underground. In his impressive debut, Salim shows how hate and violence can lead to the erosion of civil society.

Competitions at exground filmfest

In a total of seven competition sections, exground filmfest is awarding cash and non-cash prizes valued at over 20,000 euros (all prizes and prize sponsors). The international jury of the 18th International Short Film Competition consists of Burkhard Althoff, editor at ZDF’s workshop for emerging filmmakers “Das kleine Fernsehspiel” from Mainz, Christy Garland, documentary filmmaker (WHAT WALAA WANTS) from Toronto/Canada, and Brunna Laboissière, director (FABIANA) and producer from São Paulo/Brazil.

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


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