Foretaste of the 35 Filmfest Dresden: Special Programmes on Subject of Antiracism

2,800 Submissions // Focus Québec with Matthew Rankin // Retrospective of Artūras Barysas // Start of Accreditations // Press Conference on 28.03.23

For the 35th edition of Filmfest Dresden, Sylke Gottlebe and Anne Gaschütz together with their festival team warmly invite all film fans to Dresden from 18 to 23 April 2023 to experience and enjoy this wide-ranging programme of exciting short films from across the world on the silver screens in our festival cinemas and other venues. Right now, the selection committees are viewing more than 2,800 film submissions from 100 countries and compiling the screening programmes for the International, National and Central German Competition sections. This year, the prize money being awarded has increased yet again and amounts to a total of €72,000. The complete programme of the 35th Filmfest Dresden is due to be announced at the Press Conference on 28 March 2023 in the Schauburg Dresden festival cinema.

Thematic Focus on Antiracism

In addition to the competitions, the special programmes are currently being prepared and provide a foretaste of what to expect at the 35th festival edition. The focus this year is on antiracism, following the prior thematic spotlights on "Activism" (2021) and "Gender Equality and Justice" (2022), thus bringing the trilogy on the theme of diversity to a conclusion. This year, the artist Keiko Hoshino is again adapting the festival motif to the thematic focus:

 "This year’s festival motif consists of a very special chameleon whose natural array of colours are filled with various patterns found in the plant and animal kingdoms. In this way, it has become even more colourful and a unifying force for diversity and openness, something which we would like to reflect in our festival programme and antiracism focus this year," as festival directors Sylke Gottlebe and Anne Gaschütz explain. "We understand diversity especially to mean the fulfilment of human rights and that all groups represented by society are able to participate in it. Our aim with our programme here is to achieve an awareness for this critical subject."

A programme on the homeland theme, for instance, is exploring what homeland means in the new German Federal States, where so much fear of the foreign and the alien currently prevails, and how the audiences can become actively involved in the process of living together and integrating. This programme is being curated together with the Czech filmmaker Diana Cam Van Ngyuen, who also explores and confronts her Vietnamese origins in her work. Her film LOVE, DAD received the International Competition Audience Award at last year’s Filmfest Dresden.

Working together with various guest curators has long been a successful concept at Filmfest Dresden, which will be continued this year. One of the curators invited to Dresden this time around is Maryam Tafakory, who was born in Iran and lives in Great Britain. For years now, her filmic collages, often based on found footage, have explicitly resisted the marginalisation, discrimination and traditional gender roles of women in Iranian society – positions that also play a major part currently in the protest movements in her homeland. The programme curated by her is focusing on this subject, as well as on other thematic aspects of the festival.

The special programmes are also providing space on an artistic level for new narratives and aesthetics. The works by the Mexican collective "Los ingrávidos" ("The Weightless Ones") combine theoretical reflections with activist cinematic practice so as to split open traditional audio-visual grammar.

Discourse Europe: The Basque Country and Catalonia

In this year’s discourse series, the guest curators are revealing the diversity and abundance of Basque and Catalonian cinematography. Among others, they intend to explore questions about which traces have been left behind by the endeavours and aspirations of the separatists, as well as the harsh reactions from the central government in the region.

Filmfest Dresden was able to gain Yunuen Cuenca Vázquez and Mikel Gurrea as guest curators for the programme. Yunuen Cuenca Vázquez works together with various festivals, such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF) in Donostia. Mikel Gurrea was awarded the International Competition Golden Horseman for his film HELTZEAR at the 2022 Filmfest Dresden.

Focus Québec: Matthew Rankin

This year, Focus Québec is being curated by the Canadian director Matthew Rankin. With his selection of personal favourite short films from Québec, the audiences will experience daring and radical depictions of Québec, and that with a lot of humour, atmosphere and formal innovations. The director, screenwriter and film editor, who was born in 1980 in Winnipeg, Canada, studied at the Department of History and Classical Studies in McGill University, Montreal, as well as at the Université Laval, Québec. After making numerous short films, which were also screened at Filmfest Dresden (including THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT in 2018), with The Twentieth Century, the director has now made his first feature-length film, which was already screened at the Berlinale, among others.

Retrospective of Artūras Barysas

The Filmfest Dresden retrospective this year with the curator Dr. Claus Löser is being dedicated to Artūras Barysas, one of the most important representatives of the artistic underground scene in Lithuania, which was occupied by the Soviet Union until 1990. Under the title of "The Sweet Word Freedom – The Lithuanian Underground Filmmaker Artūras Barysas (1954-2005)", for the first time ever in Germany, Filmfest Dresden is presenting a selection of his films, which were recently rediscovered and restored in Lithuania. Characterised by a formal originality and contextual ambiguity, Barysas created testimonies countering the omnipresent power claims of the Soviet Union to his homeland. The film restorer Lijana Siuchina (Vilnius) together with the underground experts Dovydas Bluvšteinas (Vilnius) and David Ellis (London) are expected to attend the screenings. The retrospective is being supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Film Centre.

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