58th Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival
Germany, November 5 - November 15 2009
Although the festival’s division between two cities some thrity minutes apart makes scheduling a bit more difficult, theoretically, the visitors of the 58th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg had the option of taking in the entire festival programme during its eleven days. Granted, it would mean watching four or five films a day for eleven days straight. But even if not every film shown is a winner, the festival’s strict selection (showing forty-seven films in all from a rumored 700+ entries) made delving right in a rewarding experience.
The festival’s two main sections are its International Competition and the International Discoveries, both focusing on works from emerging filmmakers (ie first or second films). The Competition comprised of 17 films from 16 countries (Spain being the only country to provide two competition films: Return to Hansala (Retorna a Hansala) and The Two Lives of Andr’es Rabad’an (Las due vidas d’Andr’es Rabad’an).
The Competition also included the only documentary shown in the official festival programme: the Turkish film The Last Season: Shawaks (Demsala dawi: Sewaxan). The International Jury awarded the Fassbinder Prize for narrative experiment to the Swedish Miss Kicki; the festival’s Main Prize went to Letters to Father Jacob (Postia pappi Jaakobille) from Finland. The Competition was accompanied by the Discoveries Section (eight films from seven countries, with a foreground role for South American films), as well as Festival Highlights. This new section for the festival collected seven films that were previously awarded at other festivals, ranging from the festival’s Flemish opening film The Over the Hill Band (Meisjes) to Tender Parasites (Zarte parasiten), the festival’s only German entry, which won the audience prize at the Venice film festival.
Alongside this official programme there were two retrospective sections. One was a retrospective of five films from Atom Egoyan, the Canadian auteur who received a Master of Cinema Award at the festival. The retrospective included Egoyan’s debut feature Next of Kin (1984), which won him his first international award in Mannheim exactly twenty-five years ago. The director also brought some highly exciting 8mm films he shot on his first trip to Europe to the festival.
A second retrospective entitled ‘Love Stories from a Vanished Country’ celebrated the twenty-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall with a programme of six films from the former East German Republic. Topping off the festival programme were screenings of new prints of two early films by German maestro Edgar Reitz as well as special screenings of the Mannheim-made film Home Game (Heimspiel). , (Joost Broeren)
58th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg (Germany, November 5-15, 2009). Animal Heart (Coeur animal) by Séverine Cornamusaz (Switzerland, 2009). Jury: Alexander Grozev, Bulgaria (“Kino”, “Trud”, “netinfo:bg”), Télesphore MBA BIZO, Cameroun (“Cameroon Radio Television”, “www.africine.org“, “www.artsinafrica.org“), Vesna Peric-Momcilovic, Serbia (“Radio Belgrade 2”, “Politika”), Angelika Kettelhack, Germany (“Die Rheinpfalz”, “Neues Deutschland”, “Kameramann”), Joost Broeren, The Netherlands (“de Filmkrant”). Print source: Frenetic Films. The jury stated: “This film gives a humane portrait of brutish farmer Paul’s development: from instinct to emotion, from primitive to civilised. The film shows the other face of Switzerland – not the country of financial institutions and neutrality, nor that of cuckoo clocks and harmless Alpine meadows. Instead, the film’s visuals give a threatening edge to the mighty nature that surrounds Paul and his wife Rosine, and that has shaped so much of their existence. Paul’s gradual development away from his brusque and brutish ways is intimately portrayed by actor Olivier Rabourdin, and the audience’s shifting empathy from the set-upon Rosine to the gradually more emotional Paul is handled with great sensitivity by director Séverine Cornamusaz.” (Joost Broeren, edited by Tara Judah)
Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival: www.iffmh.de