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The award winners of the 12th LICHTER Filmfest

01.04.2019 | 16:54 Clock | Culture
The award winners of the 12th LICHTER Filmfest

With a festive awards ceremony and the closing film Too Late To Die Young, the 12th LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International ended on Sunday evening. From March 26 to March 31, the festival had occupied the Theater Willy Praml (Naxoshalle), the Mal Seh'n Kino, the Harmonie Kinos, the DFF - Deutsches Filmmuseum & Filminstitut, the Pupille as well as the festival center TOR Art Space with over 100 films, subsequent discussion rounds and accompanying events. A record in twelve years of LICHTER: never before have so many cinema tickets been sold and so many screenings been sold out as this year. Compared to last year, however, fewer events took place, which is why the festival recorded a total of 10,000 visitors.

The 12th edition of LICHTER focused on the annual theme of NATURE. "As in previous years, we struck a chord with our focus. Film as a medium for experiencing nature is perfect for highlighting the fact that we finally have to take more responsibility and change our behaviour towards our environment," says LICHTER festival director Gregor Maria Schubert.

Future German Film

Already in the past two years, LICHTER has not only presented international film highlights and shown the best feature-length and short films from Hesse and Rhine-Main in its film programme, but also brought together a selection of the best current films from Germany. Groundbreaking first works, celebrated festival favourites and new directorial hopes for German film have since become an integral part of the festival in the "Future German Film" section.

In the accompanying Future German Film programme, representatives* from the film industry and politics discussed the continuation of the Frankfurt positions that emerged last year at the 11th LICHTER Filmfest. "This year we have again advocated a cinema of artistic freedom. In the future, we want to bundle more film-political initiatives under the term ‚Future German Film' and negotiate the strategic question ‚Reform or Revolution'," says Johanna Süß, deputy festival director.

The Regional LIGHTER Competition

Out of nine entries in the Dr. Marschner Foundation's Regional Long Film Competition, Khrustal (Crystal Swan) by director Darya Zhuk was honored with the White Bembel and prize money of 3,000 euros. In the film, a DJane in Belarus dreams of traveling to Chicago and making it big in the birthplace of house music. But the road to that goal is rocky in the post-Soviet republic in the early 1990s. "Darya Zhuk envelops her viewers in a colourful pop imagery, only to surprise them with a sudden burst of violence. At the same time, the film succeeds in going beyond touching social drama to present profundity instead of simulating it. Funny and humorous, yet neither voyeuristic nor slapdash, it poses the question "Stay or go?" in such a way that the audience has room to develop a real feeling for the ambivalence of a social situation," said the jury's statement, which consisted of actress Jenny Schily, producer Birgit Gamke and director Susanne Heinrich. Producer Birgit Gernböck, who grew up in Frankfurt, accepted the award at the ceremony.

An honorable mention went to Barstow, California by Rainer Komers. The documentary portrait of a small town on Route 66 won over the jury with its evocative shots of the Mojave Desert, which weave together to create a tenderly restrained swan song to a forgotten region whose glorious past only flashes in its sometimes utopian memories.

The award for best regional short went to the documentary We Will Survive, in which Nele Dehnenkamp visited the residents* of Julie Rogers House who are spending their twilight years there. "The film shows a particular strength in portraying everyday life there in such a way that the quality of life can be experienced emotionally by the viewers, despite the difficulties of old age," reads the jury's statement. Ralph Förg (managing director of Filmhaus Frankfurt), Isabel Gasthof (director) and Jonatan Schwenk (filmmaker and animator) praised the director's humorous and sensitive approach. We will survive is a documentary that takes away the fear of getting older. Dehnenkamp can look forward to 1,000 euros in prize money. She was represented at the award ceremony by her cinematographer Bo-Christian Riedel-Petzold.

The Binding Audience Award

The Binding Audience Award gives visitors* to the LICHTER Film Festival the opportunity to choose their personal favourite. The prize is endowed with 2,000 euros and this year goes to The Watson's Hotel. In the documentary, directors Peter Rippl, Ragunath Vasudevan and Nathaniel Knop trace the history of a 19th-century hotel in the Indian capital Mumbai, where cinema and colonial history meet.

Virtual Reality Storytelling Competition

This year, the LICHTER VR Storytelling Award went to The Real Thing by Benoit Felici. For the second time, the festival presented 360-degree films specially developed for VR glasses in the international competition. The five finalists were selected by a jury consisting of VR director Ricarda Saleh, Kai Beck (ZDF digital) and Philip Weiss (metricminds) from over 90 submissions. The VR screenings were held in collaboration with Pico Interactive and VRCM and were once again completely sold out.

The LICHTER Art Award

For WEIGHT, artist and filmmaker Andrew de Freitas has already been awarded the LICHTER Art Award on Tuesday evening. The competition for contemporary video art comes with a prize money of 1,000 euros. Over 120 works were submitted for the eighth edition of the Art Award. In the form of an interview film, the director talks to his girlfriend Lees Brenson, a trans musician and performer. Brenson, who came to Canada from Ukraine, talks about her childhood, low-paying odd jobs, her own music and her performances. Together they reflect on the relationship between one's body weight, music and sense of comfort.

The jurors* Tamara Grcic (professor at Kunsthalle Mainz), Christina Lehnert (curator of Kunsthalle Portikus) and Saul Judd (curator of the LICHTER Art Award) praised in their laudation the extremely open visual documentation, which can be interpreted as a prologue to the life stories of many other people.

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