The 3rd Hamburg Film-In

5th - 8th November 2020

I. FILM-IN, TEACH-IN, LOVE-IN, DANCE-IN, TALK-IN, GO-IN, SIT-IN. In the 1960s, the APO (Außerparlamentarische Opposition, German for extra-parliamentary opposition, a political protest movement of the era mainly consisting of young and disillusioned people) developed the -IN as a format to get in contact the others through association, to create more in society and to campaign for a different society. The »Ins« changed the world.

In Hamburg, the first Film-In created a foundation for independent film making. We are hosting the third Hamburg Film-In in awareness of and reference to the past, because we acknowledge that that era, in which film had such an unusual innovative strength, is an inspiration for us to this day. It was precisely the connection to fine arts, performance and the escape from conventions that made film interesting. Despite this, and exactly because of this, turf wars were inevitable. Independent film. Underground film. Experimental film. Film. Narrative film. Which is the right one now? Everything is right and important, and the front lines were different ones.

II. The Film-In leads to the foundation of the Hamburger Filmmacher Cooperative, which hosts the first Hamburg film show in 1968. Hellmuth Costard invites his friend Holger Meins to Hamburg. Both friends are film makers at the time.  »We won’t come to Hamburg, and the reason is twofold,« Holger Meins writes to his friend. The Berliners aren’t coming because they are debating the role film could take in a future society. In his short letter, Meins writes to Costard, »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 […] since your enterprise is product and reproduction of the existing society. it is also clear that this situation must be changed«

Holger Meins decides to join the armed resistance and becomes a member of the leftwing terrorist organization RAF. His film »How to Build a Molotov Cocktail« has been lost ever since.

The Hamburgians stage their first Film-In, subsequently found the Hamburger Filmmacher Cooperative and host the film-show to give another kind of film and cinema a home. »The cooperative will run into the problem that soon after its foundation, the management will be passed on from the film makers and producers to salaried employees,« Birgit Hein describes the problem and states, »cooperatives are intended to guarantee its film makers the greatest possible profit from the distribution of the films. Thus, the organization’s prerequisite is to devour as little money as possible. […] The moment a normal administrative apparatus is created, it will start devouring all this money. Additionally, the Cooperative is supposed to take care of precisely those artists with the least chance to be commercially successful. […] A coop that is merely run by salaried employees distributes the films that are in demand, i.e. films that are easy to sell and which already have the highest commercial appeal, anyway.«

The oracle has spoken. A few years later, the Hamburgians fail because of the structure. Which is alright, because failure is intrinsic to the existing conditions and foundations within these conditions are automatically prone to fail. The continued existence of a cooperative does not mean that the existing conditions were overcome, but rather the opposite, that compromises into the other direction were made. As early as in 1969, B. Hein had already said about the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York that they are consistently open for the avant-garde but not for new currents. That too is not enough for change.

Thinking about the possibilities of failure means to continue in the face of certainty. After all, there is no chance for change without making in itself. 

And that is why, in the knowledge of the lust that had existed in the city back then, in the knowledge of the free spirit Hellmuth Costard who never stopped in his thinking of film, in the knowledge of failure and one man’s famous slap in the face of another man, we decided that it’s important to continue to give space to this lust. All lust wants eternity.

III. We celebrate the short film again and again Because the short film carries all memories within itself, All the lust for making in itself.

And the film makers did make and together we selected eight competition programmes that give emphatic insights into the world that surrounds us as well as those subjects that are farer away and hidden from sight and yet surround us in spite of that anyway. Fortunately, the turf wars of the past have been over for a long time. Today the decision whether to film on video, film or digitally is made based on the subject matter, not the political outlook. This releases a cornucopia of possibilities and the world spreads out in front of us.

It is particularly remarkable that people who decide to leave their homes are not out of sight but rather in the centre of attention with their stories and questions, with their mourning and their love.

Arnold Schwarzenegger enchantingly explains why body building is a type of sculptural work to an interviewer, casting a spell on him in the process. The filmic miniature as possibility for condensation and poetry on the one side, the contemporary narrative as a wild road movie from the US on the other – »And She Hisses«. »letter to a friend« by Emily Jacir, who had been a member of last year’s jury for the German Competition, shows us what a journey to Jerusalem can mean and how cultural drifts can bar the way in a tangible manner. The American film critic and film maker Ricky D’Ambrose arranges a group of friends in front of New York’s skyline and the view on the famous towers gains a new layer. Causes of death. The South African film maker Jyoti Mystri thinks uncompromisingly within the system’s contradictions. Her film isn’t easy to digest, it lodges itself within the body and makes it palpable. This is art’s most urgent task: to feel us, and that is exactly what the films of the International and the German competition are doing: They experience us. The Three Minute Quickie was searching for this newness. The subject matter was »Unknown Territories«, and this is where the journey will go. A night full of f ilms no longer than three minutes which will make us laugh. You are the jury. The winner will be determined the same night. Our juries for the international and national competitions were willing to try out another form of viewing, another form of talking with each other: online and not in the same room, but no less intense.

IV. The Internet is closed. In the spring 2020, the festival Du Réel announces on its web page that several screenings are sold out. »How great,« I think, “sold out on the Internet.” A scenario I had never imagined before. The cinema is sold out, the theatre closed, one’s home is full of people, sings Deichkind, the internet is infinitely large … Quite the opposite: the more clicks, the more ads, the more money. The Internet is sold out, the Internet is thinking ahead. Elysium has finally reached us. The lockdown evoked by the virus carries within itself the possibly of further contemplation of solidarity. Solidarity isn’t merely a dream. With the lockdown, digitality found its way into the bedrooms, the last place of the analogue. This move means that participation will be possible in a different way in the future. We no longer have to decide between digital and analogue, we can decide for inclusion on a much larger scale than previously thought. As festival makers, we will be able to pick up our viewers where it is the most suitable – into analogue projection or the digital cinema auditorium. This way, those who normally wouldn’t be able to come can come, and those, who would simply like to enjoy the short film night at home in bed, will be able to stay at home. We can declare the digital even to be »sold out« and thus delate the question of limitations and encores. Cheers to us all and a future that will be colourful and wild and differently and definitely long.

Maike Mia Höhne