Josef Wutz's final outing as director of the Filmfest Hamburg (Sept 23-29) was kicked off in fine form on Monday (Sept 23) with the world premiere of local filmmaker Fatih Akin's Italian immigrant family drama Solino, plus a gala screening of Mike Leigh's All Or Nothing.
The real highlight of the festival so far, though, has been the German premiere of Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham - which has been re-christened Kick It Like Beckham by distributor Highlight Film for the German release on October 3.
The film had been hotly anticipated in Hamburg as part of the financing came from the local public fund FilmFoerderung Hamburg and some of the film was shot here last year. Applause broke out in the cinema the minute familiar Hamburg locations appeared on screen. Chadha declared after the film that she would have to revise her image of the Germans: 'In England we have the image of the Germans being quiet and serious, but your reaction to the film showed that this is far from the truth!'
Friday (Sept 27) will see the staging of the 2nd Irish-German Forum, organised by FilmFoerderung Hamburg and MEDIA Desk Ireland, for German producers and sales agents to meet their Irish counterparts to discuss potential coproductions. The 15-strong Irish delegation includes producers John Kelleher (Fastnet Films), Ralph Christians (Magma Films), Chris Wicking (Midnight Movies), the Irish Film Board's Brendan McCarthy and RTE's Jo Calam.
Moreover, Friday evening will see the presentation of three awards before the gala screening of The Man Without A Past: the Douglas Sirk Award - in recognition of a filmmaker's 'distinguished contribution to film culture, to cinematic art and cinematic creativity'- to Finland's Aki Kaurismaki; the newly created Hamburg Television Prize; and the Digi@ward open to films whose production and postproduction were largely completed using computer-aided technologies.
The Digi@ward's 1st Prize, worth Euro 30,000, will go to the Danish producer Michael Schonnemann for the film Old Men In New Cars, directed by Lasse Spang Olsen, with Swedish producer Joakim Hansson selected for the 2nd Prize, worth Euro 20,000, for his production of Simon Sandquist and Joel Bergvall's The Invisible.