Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hof Film Festival, Germany

The 43rd HOF Film Festival is in a tiny town in Franken, Bavaria. It's the hometown of festival founder Heinz Badewitz who entered the film world in the 60s side by side with Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders and other new wave German filmmakers. The traditional soccer game between the filmmakers and the townies in the beautiful fall setting is one of the high points of the festival. Other notable reasons for coming to this festival is that every German film industryite including bankers and other festival progammers, distributors, sales agents and the press is here schmoozing, drinking beer, eating the best sausages in the world and watching films up the youngest up-and-comingest German filmmakers in a totally relaxed atmosphere.

Opening night film was Parkour, the debut drama by Marc Rensing about a young man and his group of friends in an unnamed industrial town in Germany. Sundance's Sin Nombre produce by Mexico's Canana Films will have its German premiere here, hosted by its distributor Prokino Filmverleih who is also premiering Keep Surfing by producer Tobias N. Siebert who was nominated for an Oscar for The Story of the Weeping Camel.

Heinz felt the docs were especially good this year and a large number have been programmed. The one I have been waiting to see since this summer when I was speaking to the producer Uwe Dierks (Rhythm IsIt!) about its US potential is Porgy & Me by Susanna Boehm. The African American singers of the New York Harlem Theatre have been touring Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for decades all over the world. I would guess this is on the road to Sundance. On another African diaspora subject is the doc Gunter Wallraff: Schwarz Auf Weiss in which a black immigrant travels through Germany testing the friendlines of the locals who never know that he is Gunther Wallraff, the famous under cover journalist.

This film, like many others this year, is directed by a woman, Susanne Jaeger. More on that subject in the coming days.

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