33 Filmfest Dresden Announces Competition Films

Two New Awards & Prize money of €70,500 // Key Themes: Search for Identity, Empowerment, Gender Issues // New Cultural Partnership with public broadcaster MDR Kultur

A total of 63 (co-)productions – including 23 premieres – from 30 counties have been invited to the competition sections of the 33 Filmfest Dresden (13 to 18 July 2021). From more than 2,700 submissions, the selection committees chose 34 entries for the International Competition and 28 productions for the National Competition to vie for the "Golden Horseman" trophies and special prizes. With two new awards and prize money now increased to €70,500 (2020: €68,000), Filmfest Dresden continues to be counted among the highest endowed short film festivals in Europe. In addition to the films in the International and National Competitions, a work in the Regional Film Night competition is also traditionally awarded a prize. Further to the competition programmes, the festival week will also have an extensive range of special programmes with a wide array of thematic and country-based focal areas, as well as retrospectives, youth and children's films.

Statistics: Hybrid (Animation) Film Art & Female Directors in the Majority

Yet again in the 33 festival edition, the number of animated films competing in the National and International Competitions is as high as usual with 30 entries. The filmmakers have adapted their ideas using an extremely wide spectrum of animation techniques, ranging from classic cartoons, to object animation through to 3D computer animation and experimentation with various formats. In his multiple award-winning experimental animated film SERIAL PARALLELS, the director Max Hattler (National Competition) is portraying the horizontal high-rise street canyons of Hong Kong and animating them to become clattering film strips. Using a mixture of fiction and animation in MEX AND THE ANIMALS from the International Competition, Elisa Gleize has developed the idea of a world in which the animals can only be reconstructed virtually. Hybrid formats can also be found beyond the animated sections: For instance, Julia Roesler has combined the documentary and the fictional in FREDDA MEYER, which is celebrating its world premiere in the National Competition. As members of the female artists group werkgruppe2, Julia Roesler und Silke Merzhäuser were already invited to the 2019 Filmfest Dresden with MARINA.

When taken together, there is a clear majority of female (co-)directors competing in the two competition sections: While the number of directors in the National Competition is roughly balanced, the female directors have taken the lead over their male colleagues in the International Competition with 24 female directors or co-directors and 12 male directors. 

In the National Competition, the high number of independent productions (16) compared to the film school and university productions (12) are indicative of the highly impressive diversity and range in the indie production scene.

With 34 films from 27 countries competing in six programmes, the International Competition is providing numerous insights into the current short film production area. Among others, there are works from Columbia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. And of the 28 films in the National Competition, seven co-productions can be seen from Latvia, Lebanon and Serbia, among others. 


Themes: Search for Identity, Empowerment, Gender Issues 

On a thematic level, numerous films in the competition sections are focusing on the search for identity, a home and a place in society. A female choreographer of an advanced age in I'M TOO BUSY from Carmen Aumedes Mier (International Competition) realises that it is now time for a new dance in her life – the jitterbug! In his new work, the animadoc REVOLYKUS in the National Competition, Victor Orozco Ramirez avails of his dilapidated house as a metaphor for his personal story as a migrant. 

Questions about body images, ideals of beauty and gender equality are being pursued in a range of films from the competition sections: In MY FAT ARSE AND I in the International Competition, Yelyzaveta Pysmak has adapted the subject of anorexia into a surreal-comic animation. By turn, the story of the emancipation of the female protagonist in YALLAH HABIBI from Mahnas Sarwari (National Competition) is recounted using a new self-image. And self-confidence also radiates from the work SWINGUERRA (International Competition) by the artists Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca: Performed mainly by transgender and nonbinary people, a contemporary dance from Brazil becomes a symbol of liberation and social participation here. 

Socio-political developments and their impacts continue to be the focus of numerous stories, such as in A LACK OF CLARITY from Stefan Kruse Jørgensen, which reveals the mechanisms of the surveillance state. The director was already represented at the 2020 festival with THE MIGRATING IMAGE in the "Afterimages – Traces of Trauma" special programme. 


New Prizes

With two new awards in the International and National Competitions, this year the 33 Filmfest Dresden has a total of 16 prizes at a value of €70,500. The "Fully Political" Short Film Award of the Saxon Centre for Political Education is endowed with €3,000. A further new award consists of the Dresden Short Film Award of the German Film Critics Association (unendowed). An overview of all the awards is provided here: https://www.filmfest-dresden.de/en/festival/awards 


Regional Film Night: Regional Competition Guesting at the Film Nights on the Banks of the Elbe
The regional competition Filmfest Dresden presents in its Regional Film Night traditionally screens current films from central Germany, as well as works from filmmakers who have grown up in the region and study at German film schools. This year, nine works are revealing the complete creative range found in the regional productions, from animated, fictional and documentary films, through to hybrid formats. 

For the first time, the festival has been invited to screen its regional programme at the "Film Nights on the Banks of the Elbe" open-air event, through which is it strengthening is longstanding cooperation with the event organisers. On 15 July, the regional film selection will be shown on the huge silver screen against the world-famous backdrop of Dresden's historic old city. The Audience Award endowed with €2,000 is sponsored by the "Film Nights on the Banks of the Elbe" event.


New Cultural Partnership with public broadcaster MDR Kultur 

This year, Filmfest Dresden is for the first time the cultural partner of the public broadcaster MDR KULTUR. 

"I'm delighted to continue our very fruitful cooperative work with Filmfest Dresden," Managing Editor Reinhard Bärenz said emphatically. "With our partnerships, for several years now we have maintained a broad network with selected festivals, theatres, museums and education facilities in the Federal States of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. We intend to continue expanding these cooperations and play our part as a public broadcaster in contributing to the promotion of the cultural landscape in our region."

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