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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Forever Young in Mannheim

"April is the cruelest month" wrote T.S.Eliot when having to choose between invitations to fests in Istanbul, Nyon and elsewhere- then for FIPRESCI members it became September when the Fall season started to invigorate itself with Venice, Toronto, San Sebastian, Hamburg vying with each other for films and attention, and more recently October became the new September with London and Roma and Sitges and Gent clashing wildly and who gives a damn about Chicago...?Now November is definitely the new October with a growing number of festivals in disparate cinephile corners of the world fondly hoping to tempt the sizzled cineaste and critical correspondent....how could a restyled, postponed Mar del Plata hope to challenge the lure of Leeds, or sunny Sevilla with its new director seduce the fipresciati away from the AFI? Even Germany- such a formidable fest and film-making federation- now divides itself between Mannheim and Cottbus, while unlucky Lubeck can barely get a look in.
Well at least Mannheim-Heidelberg and Cottbus only overlap this year, so höffentlich maybe I shall report on the cinematic splendours of the Spreewald next week, if the coy Cottbussers will find for me a schlafsack in the forest somewhere.....

But then Cottbus will only come of age, so zu sagen, as it celebrates its 18th edition as a festival this year, and it is a miracle how they manage to organize a film festival at all in a city which does not house a single actual cinema.

Mannheim-Heidelberg already twinned itself 15 years ago and the procedure has been painless, indeed very successful, bringing increased audiences (probably also some institutional cash) to what is in any case the second oldest festival in Germany and, under the dynamic direction of Dr Michael Kötz and his efficient team of selectors and staff, seemingly the second most significant German film festival today.

A browse through the archives of the films premiered and prized in past Mannheims is a proud roll-call of independent film-makers, pioneers,and many talents that were first noted in this extraordinary city midway between Frankfurt and Baden-Baden, a city of pleasant dimensions laid out on a grid system maybe even before Manhattan was.(First-timers must not be confused -as I was some time ago-to find their hotel address is something as poetic as F4,4-11!).After a brief absence last year caused by rebuilding, the Festival Centre is back in the imposing, modern Stadthaus in the very centre of Mannheim, with 2 improved auditoria, lounge, professional facilities and a host of moderately-priced eateries and drinkeries inside the complex and within short walking distance throughout the attractive, commercial part of the city.

However, in keeping with the dual nature of the event, the official opening of the 57th event was in fact in Heidelberg, in a well-designed and heated large tent, the Unizelt, in that lovely historic university city. (So beloved of Cole Parter and filled with antique wunderbars)
Guests were ferried in a comfortable Pullman for the half-hour journey between the cities and after a string of charming official speeches the festival presented the International Premiere of a capable Canadian comedy, The Baby Formula, with debuting director Alison Reid and producer Paul Zimic introducing the film and participating in a lively Q and A in another part of the tent subsequently. Meanwhile the fipresciati and other international filmerati quaffed sekt and smoked-salmon-sausage-rolls (surprisingly taste and, so far, safe!) until it was time to get back on the bus. Decisions, decisions, but everyone seems to be glad to have opted for Mannheim (and Heidelberg) this week, at least.

Phillip Bergson's blog
http://www.fest21.com/en/blog/phillip_bergson



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Chatelin Bruno
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