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Established 1995 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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Hamburg 13th closes with cash prizes and "Electric Shadows"


The thirteenth installment of the Hamburg Film Festival came to a close on September 29 with an invitational screening of the Chinese film "Electric Shadows" (Dyan-Ying), which is simply a direct translation of the Chinese word for "movies". The film is basically a declaration of love for the medium itself, and female director Xiao Jiang picked up a nice little purse of 10,000 Euros, the Otto Sprenger Prize for best debut film. Sprenger is the Hamburg based owner of Spiegel Magazine, which is the Germany's leading news weekly, the equivalent of TIME and Newsweek put together.

The Hamburg fest does not go in for gold and silver statuettes, but prefers to put its money where its mouth is, dispensing cash prizes to the filmmakers deemed worthy -- and needy of geld to make more films. Other cash prizes went to the German entry, "The Night of the Great Flood", by Raymond Ley -- the TV Producers prize, a whopping 30,000 Euros -- while "Adam's Apples", a black comedy from Denmark by Anders Thomas Jensen took the TV Movies Audience Prize, pocketing another 5,000 Euros. A fourth non-monetary prestige award, the Hamburg Critics Prize, went to "Iron Island" from Iran, directed by Mohammed Rasoulof. The latter film tells the story of poor people stranded on a ship anchored in the Persian Gulf under less than pleasant conditions. The big winner, "Night of the Great Flood", is a 90 minute docu-drama about the 1962 Hamburg flood which caught the city by surprise claiming 300 lives and leaving 20,000 homeless. Director Ley bended historical footage with eye-witness interviews to mount this strong historical docu-drama.

The until now smallish Hamburg festival took a sizeable step forward this year screening 113 carefully culled films and entertained 269 official guests, among them directors, actors and producers. While there were no super-stars in sight a few highly regarded film personalities such as
England's Terence Stamp ("These Foolish Things", co-starring Angelica Huston) made brief appearances to introduce their films. One of the higher profile pictures with an all-star international cast was "A Good Woman", a hilarious comedy from England with top liners Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Wilkinson, based on Oscar Wilde's late Victorian classic, "Lady Windermere's Fan". Director Mike Barker updates the tale to the 1930s and relocates it from England to the sunny Amalfi Coast of southern Italy, but none of the sharp Wildean wit or social satire are lost in the transposition. Johansson, as the titular Lady Windermere, suspects that her husband is having an affair with man-eating older femme fatale, Mrs. Erlynne, who specializes in the seduction of married men -- a yummy Helen Hunt. Scarlett J. meanwhile continues to make all the right moves, picking roles that not only accentuate her breathtaking beauty but also show that she has acting ability to burn and the versatility of a true thespian.
Unless the world ends tomorrow it's beginning to look like the sky's the limit for this brilliant young lady. As far as the Hamburg festival itself
is concerned, it seems to be headed for a strong upgrade in the not too distant future, with the potential to grow to whatever size it happens to

Alex Deleon, Hamburg.

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