exground youth days – a brief project description
November 14–19, 2020, Wiesbaden/Germany, Caligari FilmBühne
Since 2004, the “youth days” project has been presenting a six-day programme every November in the scope of exground filmfest (one of Hesse’s largest film festivals) featuring international film productions specifically intended for a young audience between the ages of 12 and 18. The project was further expanded in 2005 with an open call for an award for best international youth film (endowed with EUR 2,500 in prize money), and then in 2011 with an award for the best short film in the exground youth days programme, which has since been endowed with a prize of EUR 500. Moreover, 2013 saw the introduction of an audience award (endowed with EUR 1,000) for the best film in the scope of the “youth days – International Youth Film Competition”. In 2006, the “youth days – Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition” was introduced, which extends the range of feature films screening at the festival; in 2007 it added a monetary prize of EUR 500, endowed by the Hessian State Centre for Civic Education until 2019, when the Hessian State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts took over patronage of the prize. In addition, since 2014 the Mainz-based certified Apple dealer ergo sum has sponsored a non-cash prize package valued at EUR 150 for the second prize winner in the Wiesbaden Youth Film Competition.
The youth days provide a forum for introducing young people to the medium of film. They present current and international productions as Wiesbaden premieres, thus covering a thematic area previously neglected in Hesse. The selected productions give nuanced insight into other cultures and subcultures – far beyond the limits of the usual uniform mainstream fare presented on television and in cinemas. With an eye to the various aspects of film and media education, the project aims to expose young individuals to a new, vital form of interaction with the medium of film. Featuring thematically related accompanying events, the multifaceted programme is designed to draw young people to the cinema. Connections to local and personal contexts serve to make the programme even more accessible. This approach sets the project significantly apart from others of its kind in the field.
In this regard, the exground youth days make an important contribution – especially in an era where there is a lot of animated discussion in Germany about the integration of families with migration backgrounds and refugees from all over the world. Since 2016, the team from exground youth days has made an effort to integrate young refugees and young individuals from socially disadvantaged families in the Wiesbaden Youth Jury, which selects the winners of the main award in the International Youth Film Competition every year. In addition, young refugees have had frequent opportunities to work with the film medium themselves in the scope of workshops and to present the results on the big screen within the exground youth days’ programme.
On top of all that, we have connected the offerings at youth days with a regularly occurring film series at Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne, in order to expose young people to internationally renowned youth films throughout the entire year: the “exground youth film of the month” was initiated in September 2005 and made possible by seed funding from the City of Wiesbaden (within the “Geld für Ideen” programme). The team responsible for the series is composed entirely of volunteers, supported by staff of the City of Wiesbaden’s “Kultur vor Ort” initiative. Starting in September 2006 these efforts were also supported by the city’s cultural department, and for several years a youth group assembled expressly for the purpose was also involved in the film selection and marketing. Thus, the team from youth days has evolved into a substantial partner for youth film work in Wiesbaden within a very short time, flanked by other institutions that take advantage of the networking opportunities offered by the programme (for example, the city media centre with the event series “Kino macht Schule” as well as the aforementioned “Kultur vor Ort”) in order to expand their own activities with this cinema component. In this way, the original idea of expanding exground filmfest to include a youth film programme has grown into a networked project with many participants, thus showing the way for efficient collaboration in the cultural field – an advantage that one shouldn’t underestimate in times of shrinking budgets for cultural funding.