Fiction of a Festivals

»And it rained. It rained in her soul and into that of sleeping Adam The sleeping fragments of paradise. And from now on my country will be cinema« Jonas Mekas

The 36th Hamburg Short Film Festival would have taken place from 2 June to 8 June 2020. For well-known reasons, it did not take place. And with that, the question what could take place and how this taking place could happen has been on the top of our screens since last spring. The quarrel about how to present film has been there since its birth. From the fairs and bars of the beginning to the platforms of the future. The pressure to innovate increased, and the question of how to reach the audience has become more pressing than ever, along with the questions regarding the interaction with the films and the film makers as well as our relation to the festival’s essence, the encounters and the analogue exchange of ideas. Things remain exciting – they have only just started. We will once again dive into the analogue world of cinema and the mutual viewing of films this year. On three consecutive days, we will present and award all competitions of the Hamburg Short Film Festival at the Metropolis cinema: The international, German and the Three-Minute-Quickie competition. The 3rd Hamburg Film-In!

This year, more than 6,000 film makers submitted their films. A new record. The high number points to the importance of the festival work, the belief in the unbroken efficacy of the moving pictures and the lust to capture the moment, to shape, communicate and participate.

The selection of the international and the German competition is shaped by social, political and aesthetic questions and conditions. The environment isn’t irrelevant and the political situation not far away. For this year, the Three Minute Quickie had chosen »Unknown Territories« as its subject. The selected films all guarantee a weird, wild and disturbing trip. A trip well worth it. The film makers actively participate in the world and cast their questions back into the cinema hall, transforming them into an echo room through their conversation with the audience.

In 1967, the first Film-In was hosted in Hamburg. Back then, it was a promotion for the newly founded production office by the cinema operator Werner Grassmann (Abaton cinema). To promulgate the event, three students drove to the Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble to bring the Olympic Fire to Hamburg. And that’s what they did: They drove the car to Grenoble, went up the steep stairs to the fire, ignored the police guard, lit a cigarette with the fire, escaped the police, chain smoked in the car all the way to Hamburg and then carried a torch, which they held out of their car, to the Brüderstraße, where the f iery light was replaced by the flicker of the projector.

This was the founding moment of the »Filmmacher Cooperative«. The Hamburgians followed the example of New York’s »Film-Makers’ Cooperative« regarding distribution and production. Jonas Mekas was one of their founding members: »And from now on, my country will be cinema.«

For others, the cinema wasn’t the country of the possible – they were more interested in radically changing the existing conditions. Holger Meins wrote from Berlin to his friend and colleague Hellmuth Costard in Hamburg,

»it is clear that we are not wishing you a lot of success, because we believe you took the wrong, the capitalist path it is also clear that you will be successful with your film-in, since your enterprise is product and reproduction of the existing society it is also clear that this situation must be changed«

Holger Meins studied film in Hamburg at the HFBK when the first film class was established in 1966. In 1967, the German Film and Television Academy (dffb) was founded in Berlin, and Meins moved there. Later he joined the first generation of the German left-wing terrorist organization RAF and he died in 1974 in prison after a hunger strike.

For the 36th Hamburg Short Film Festival, the Viennese musician and film maker Billy Roisz transformed the physical experience in the cinema and with film itself into a trailer: »quarantine carousel«. The paralysis felt by Roisz as the lockdown changed social life all over the world induced her to take a journey to the beginning of creation with a catchy tune on her lips and the camera as the centre of circular motions. Roisz’ works are always an intense bodily experience. They pull in the viewers through the tight linking of analogue and digital images. Their cluster in sound and image remind us of the abstract patterns of the great weavers of Bauhaus, Gunta Stölzl, Anni Albers. Bauhaus for new seeing. After escaping from Europe, Jonas Mekas was looking for a new home in New York and found one in cinema. Out of the cinema, he changed the view of the world. His invitation to see more intensely is now more relevant than ever.

We are looking forward to not leaving the cinema with you at the 3rd Hamburg Film-In, to marking the red seats as our homes and to getting together for the future.

Yours, Maike Mia Höhne & Sven Schwarz