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Honorary Golden Dove for Fred Gehler

The International Festival for Documentary and Animated Films has awarded an Honorary Golden Dove to Fred Gehler for his life work.

Fred Gehler, the festival’s artistic director since 1994, has ensured that the festival gained great international reputation and reached new records as regards the number of visitors. Moreover, in his capacity as a film journalist and cinema director as well as through his own cineastic work, he has had considerable influence on the genre’s further development.

In his farewell speech Leipzig’s Cultural Councillor Dr. Georg Girardet thanked Fred Gehler, who retired at the end of 2003, for his commitment to the festival and his work as its director. "We owe it to Fred Gehler and his team that the festival has defined itself no longer through ideology, but through its artistically demanding programme. For years now we have seen that the festival cinemas have attracted again the crowds in a magical way and that our Festival for Documentary and Animated Films has once again become an event to be reckoned with and spoken about in the national and international film scene. […] He is a committed cineaste. During his time as the director he has oriented the Leipzig Festival above all towards the artistic documentary film, thus giving the festival its own character. He resisted fashionable trends without being old-fashioned and could not be deceived by a wrong sense of topicality. He objected to fast-moving TV documentations and the zeitgeist, the spirit of the time that is evoked everywhere. Nothing matters more to him than a high artistic standard and quality."

The City of Leipzig also pins great hopes on Claas Danielsen, his successor: "The 2004 documentary film week is the first festival Claas Danielsen has designed and directed. He has thus been following in Fred Gehler’s footsteps and does so with great respect for the achievements of his predecessor. […] I am convinced that Claas Danielsen is a worthy successor to Fred Gehler and that we can hand over the festival which is very much at our hearts to Claas Danielsen with an easy conscience."

After the farewell ceremony festival director Claas Danielsen presented an Honorary Golden Dove to Fred Gehler, who admitted in his farewell speech "to have been a bit surprised, indeed". In his farewell speech, he took a closer look at "the myth" of the Leipzig Festival which, as he put it, is based on the great and important documentary films that have been screened, discovered and awarded with prizes here and that have made film history.

Some 700 viewers celebrated the opening of the 47th International Festival for Documentary and Animated Films together with the filmmakers, jury members and experts who had all come to the sold-out CineStar. Class Danielsen, the festival director, presented the programme himself and invited the audience in his opening speech to discover films in the following five days "that make the heart beat faster". The cineastic highlight of the evening was "Touch the Sound" by Thomas Riedelsheimer, the film that had just been nominated for the "European Film Prize". The film accompanies Evelyn Glennie, the almost deaf percussionist, during her fascinating work.


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