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From the Point Of View of the Curator

Curators Choice Programme at Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

notes by Vanessa Nica Mueller, Alejo Franzetti, Maike Mia Höhne, Anna Feistel, Marian Freistühler, Theresa George, Sebastian Markt

From the Point Of View of the Curator

Films leave marks, reverberate, and pop up again and again. The members of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg's International Competition’s selection committee were asked about the reverberations in their heads and their thoughts. What remains of the selection in 2021? Beyond the spirit of competition, the artists’ and film makers’ works in these two programmes range from economic encroachments in the Peruvian Andes over the lives of a group of drag queens in 1980s Argentina to an extremely unconventional insight into the Middle East conflict. Questions of revolution and uprising entangle themselves with the private life of the individual. At the end, there’s an animated lullaby by the Swedish director Niki Lindroth von Bahr. A dream.


'Aggregate States of Matters' by Rosa Barba

A journey to the Peruvian Andes – the 35 mm shots seem to capture some of the last images of a disappearing ecosystem and an endangered culture on film. The beauty of the footage contrasts with the tragedy of the ongoing melting of the glaciers, the most important water resource for the population, especially the mountain dwellers. In the echo of visible climate change, the film interweaves local myths and revelatory changes and portrays those closest to the glacier but not responsible for its disappearance. A documentary artistic essay, a farewell song.

Vanessa Nica Mueller
Filmmaker, lecturer & member of the selection committee of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

'Écume' by Omar Elhamy

“We will go in circles until Hakim tires out”, says Abdel to his co-workers, who are also his friends. 'Écume' is a sensitive portrait of those circles, in which the menacing tension never turns to violence; any possibility of conflict is neutralized by care and attention – and time. It is a patient film full of understanding, that intelligently escapes from prejudices and pre-established images. The visible inner conflict of Hakim's character is not exploited with dramatic opportunism – Omar Elhamy wisely disarticulates it with cinematic form.

Alejo Franzetti
Filmmaker and member of the selection committee for Berlinale Shorts (Berlin International Film Festival) & Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

'letter to a friend' by Emily Jacir

It is the private letters and thoughts that – sometimes many years later, sometimes directly and immediately – allow us to immerse ourselves in the big political picture. When history becomes tangible: 'letter to a friend'. The road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. In an ominous earlier time, the way to Jerusalem was unobstructed, today – through a multitude of shifts, meanings, houses, people – the way is no longer clear. Those who write, stay. Emily narrates. In her garden she finds the ammunition of the occupying forces. The dog hides behind the door, curled up. It is these gestures and images that convey and leave a different impression of history.

Maike Mia Höhne
Filmmaker, professor, curator & Artistic Director of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg


'Bella' by Thelyia Petraki

Turmoil. Inside and outside. While Anthi tries to keep the connection with Christos in Moscow, the end of the Cold War is in sight. It is a love at a distance, because she is in Greece. With the two children, the mother, the friends, the fears and worries and the everyday madness. "I try not to think about you, because my heart becomes soft & tight & sweet." Longing as well as painful letters from her to him are illustrated with VHS Home Video images and historical newsfeed of the time, transporting us to a bygone era where, along with cigarette smoke, the potential of change was in the air.

Anna Feistel
Programme Coordinator and member of the selection committee of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

'Destiny Deluxe' by Diogo Baldaia

A centre of gravity weakens, gets lost and the young characters drift around like lost heavenly bodies. In an environment rich in promises but poor in possibilities, all that remains is to stumble forward, seemingly light-footed. So that the empty space becomes a clearing. 'Destiny Deluxe' masters the photogenic surface and knows about its underlying fragility. It is not afraid of the grand gesture and yet maintains a warm distance, letting the protagonists tell their stories. It is a sensual, melancholic film, a fado about the sadness of loss that cannot be avoided when everyone has to look where they want to stay. And when biographies that were once friends drift into different orbits.

Marian Freistühler
Filmmaker, producer & member of the selection committee of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

'Playback. Ensayo de una Despedida' by Augustina Comedi

We take the VHS tapes out of the box and rewind: Argentina in the 1980s. The spotlight comes on, the show begins. The drag queens enter the stage and sing playback. The small, tightly packed basement venue is their sparkling cave, a refuge without daylight. Here, they award themselves the prizes, because who else would they get them from? These are short glamorous years, because soon, after the performances, the donation bag goes through the rows. They collect for the ever increasing number of people infected with HIV, most of whom will not survive the disease. Today, almost 30 years later, the young director Augustina Comedi gives us what the archive cannot: a handful of happy endings on which we can rehearse the farewell as often as necessary.

Theresa George
Anthropologist & member of the selection committee of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

'Något att minnas' by Niki Lindroth von Bahr

"The devil sees you, whatever you do / scratches your back while you sleep." A pigeon boy stands with his father in a zoo that no longer has any animals, a nudibranch sings of contagious sadness while taking his blood pressure, a mouse smokes at the petrol station and in the research reactor a few beetles quickly send a shouted prayer to heaven. Lindroth von Bahr's inimitable wit and the supposed cuteness of a puppet world lovingly designed down to the smallest detail put a finger in the wound of horror. A lullaby from a damaged life, memories of what may remain after the catastrophe that may have long since arrived.

Sebastian Markt
Head of Programming at Berlinale Generation, film critic, projectionist & member of the selection committee of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg

Check the full programme of this year's Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg here.

© Images

1 'Aggregate States of Matters' (Rosa Barba)
2 'Écume' (Omar Elhamy)
3 'Något att minnas' (Niki Lindroth von Bahr)