From 11 to 16 May 2017, the 63rd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen will be showing altogether 499 films from 58 countries. Of these, 148 works, selected from among almost 7,000 entries, will be vying for around 42,000 euros in prize money in the festival’s five competitions. In addition to the competitions, the Festival will feature numerous theme-based programmes and showcases dedicated to individual artists and filmmakers; there are altogether more than 100 film programmes to be seen over the six days of the festival.
A diversity of forms and subject matter is the dominant feature of all the competitions at Oberhausen. Films from all five continents have been chosen, and every genre, from documentary film to feature film, experimental film, music videos to children’s film and more, is represented. The shortest film in the competitions is one minute long (the Russian animation Aport by Denis Voronin in the Children’s and Youth Competition); the longest work, at 45 minutes, has the maximum running time allowed in the German Competition (Narration by Thomas Taube). Both thematically and aesthetically, the Festival reflects the enormous range of the short format, in which there is still greater freedom of expression than is the case with the often more strictly standardised genre of full-length films, and which continues to be an important source of renewal for the cinematic language.
For the International Competition, the largest and oldest competition at the Festival, 56 films from 33 countries were selected from among almost 5,500 entries, including one German production (the documentary film TITAN by Johannes Freese). There are also works by John Akomfrah, Louise Botkay, Susannah Gent, William E. Jones, Salomé Lamas and Mika Taanila to be seen, among others. “What struck is this year was that many works, especially non-European films, address the consequences of geopolitics and identity politics”, says Hilke Doering, head of the International Competition. The Festival is showing more than half of the works as world premières.
In the German Competition, Oberhausen is showing 22 works chosen out of 1,185 entries. They include works by Mariola Brillowska, Christoph Girardet, Miriam Gossing and Lina Sieckmann, and Lukas Marxt and Marcel Odenbach, as well as the world première of Moon Over Da Nang, the new film by Bjørn Melhus, to whom the Festival is also dedicating a Profile programme this year. “We saw a lot of interesting works coming from art universities and not from traditional film schools this year”, said Carsten Spicher, head of the German Competition. “One reason for this is certainly that Oberhausen is always looking for the unusual. While film schools tend to train their students with a view to the conventions of television and cinema, art schools place more importance on the freedom of form and expression that we are seeking in the films.”
For the NRW Competition, 13 works were selected from among 234 productions from North Rhine-Westphalia. One of them is Ayny by Ahmad Saleh, a film that brought him a Student Oscar in 2016. “In 2012, we showed Ahmad Saleh’s film House, and are now very delighted to be able to present him again as an Oscar winner,” said Carsten Spicher, who is responsible for the NRW Competition as well. An unusual inclusion is two poetry clips by very young filmmakers, Manche Probleme by Patrick Praschma and Vögel auf Stromleitungen by Dean Ruddock, who have both chosen this form to address issues of identity and their future situation in life. An Oberhausen filmmaker, Volker Köster, is also in the competition with Wo Feuer ist, ist auch Rauch.
For the MuVi Award for the best German music video, Oberhausen will be showing 12 music videos chosen out of a record number of 272 entries. As always, what counts at the MuVi Award is the visual rendering of a piece of music, which means that, among others, artists such as Phil Collins (with Crab Day for Cate Le Bon) and Christoph Girardet (with Second Chance Man for The Tindersticks) are seen here next to works by Friedrich Liechtenstein for Das wird gut and Mary Ocher for Arms, who have both also directed the videos for their own pieces.
Finally, the Children’s and Youth Film Competition, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, will be showing 48 films from 24 countries, two of which are also screening in the International Competition. In addition to the competition, Oberhausen will be showing two special anniversary programmes with films from the history of children’s cinema at the festival.
For the full programme visit the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen’s site here.