A student festival in Germany’s centre of film
The Sehsüchte flame burns brightly again in Potsdam-Babelsberg from April 23 to 28, 2013. For the 42nd time, the Konrad Wolf University for Film and Television is organising the biggest student film festival in Europe. Students of the master’s programme in media studies, assisted by others from varied degree programmes, are showing films from the best young filmmakers at the university as well as on the grounds of Babelsberg Studios.
Not only does the festival represent exciting and innovative works of young filmmakers from all over the world, it provides a unique atmosphere in the middle of Germany’s film centre—making Sehsüchte a significant festival in the cultural landscape.
Looking back on a successful 2012
Potsdam was a cultural attraction for more than 6500 festival guests last spring. Cinephiles, film experts and journalists eagerly anticipated the diverse films, topics and discussions put forward by international up-and-coming filmmakers. Sehsüchte offered a programme of 130 films from 30 different countries, which were chosen from 1300 submissions. On top of their success at Sehsüchte, competition films “The Swing of the Coffin-maker” and “For Elsie” won Student Oscars in May 2012, proving once again the caliber of the festival programme.
Diversity in Competition: The Film Programme
For Sehsüchte 2013, programme officials have once again screened hundreds of entries from around the world, in order to include the best ones in a diverse film programme reflective of the latest developments of young international film. Short and full length features, short and long documentaries, films for children and young adults, music video, entries about the focal theme of 2013, as well as films with special production achievements were sought after. Authors and project developers are to be honoured in the categories of Screenplay and Pitch. Selected works will be nominated for the Flame Trophy, along with the corresponding cash prize.
Mobility, Exchange and Know-how: The Social Programme
Apart from the films screenings, which represent the core of the festival, the organisers also have the aim of using Sehsüchte as an artistic form and intercultural platform to promote exchange between young filmmakers amongst each other, as well as with the high professionals from the film and media industry.
The concept established in the past years, namely of complementing the film programme with workshops and podium discussions, is to be further expanded in 2013.
A “theme day” in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is to revolve around the mobility of student film creators, with highly esteemed guests practicing international co-production in attendance. Different networking opportunities should also promote the exchange and future cooperation between the Sehsüchte guests. Financial restructuring in 2013 allows financial support in terms of travel and accommodation costs not only for competition contestants, but for all filmmakers whose works are to be part of the Sehsüchte programme. In order to establish the festival even more strongly as a convergence point of film students, Sehsüchte’s existing excursion program is to be expanded to include national and international film universities.
And naturally, Sehsüchte guests, cinema viewers, journalists and sponsors should celebrate together: the big Sehsüchte closing party, as well as numerous other events in the programme provide a relaxed, comfortable, and consistently personal Sehsüchte atmosphere.
Reinvention as an organisational principle
An important contributing factor to the pleasant festival mood is Sehsüchte’s special organisational structure. HFF students continue to be exclusively responsible for the selection of films, as well as for the organisation of the whole festival. The festival, which took off in 1972 from the FDJ Student Film Days of the University for Film and Television, took a break of some years after the fall of the wall, to be reborn in 1995 as “Sehsüchte”. While the festival’s history illustrates a moving past, reinvention and innovation is in Sehsüchte’s genes.
Innovation as a guiding theme: Retro/Futuro
The pursuit of innovation is to play a thematically significant role in 2013. Digitalisation and media convergence, new recording and distribution techniques and transmedial narration formats—speculation abounds as to how cinematic narration will look in the future. Sehsüchte approaches this debate in a way interesting for both lay persons and experts: new light is to be shed upon the established theme day “Retrospective” and complemented with the playful “Futurospective“. The focus this time around would not be on viewing the works of one particular artist, but illustrating how filmmakers developed and propelled forward innovative forms in the past and present. Possibly long-forgotten technical innovations and narrative forms are to be re-experienced, and current developments presented and discussed by experts.
A new venue: Sehsüchte Campus
The sunny spring makes room for new things, and exciting ideas turn into realities. In Medienstadt Babelsberg, Sehsüchte brings “Sehsüchte Campus“ to life. All film screenings and events will take place at two adjacent venues: in the HFF Konrad Wolf University building , and in the large cinema of Rotor Film Babelsberg on the studio grounds in Babelsberg. The infrastructure of the venues works very well with the diverse needs of the festival, and invites the audience to a week of discovery surrounding the next generation of film.
Thanks to the short distances, festival guests have the opportunity in between film showings to be inspired through photo exhibits and art installations in the HFF’s atrium, to explore the studio grounds and the Film Park in Babelsberg, or to come by for an end-of-the-day drink. Here, friends of the film festival from Potsdam and Berlin have the chance to interesting exchanges with local and international filmmakers.
The power of imagination: Schreibsüchte
In the meantime, Schreibsüchte has developed into a solid part of the Sehsüchte programme. A day dedicated to what happens before the shoot is to take place on the grounds of Rotorfim, within the immediate vicinity of the HFF. Here, the contest to determine the best screenplay and the best pitch is to be carried out. Well-known voice talents will breathe life into the screenplays. And as in the previous year, the pitch-contestants are to stand before a live audience and a jury of experts.
Current and controversial: Focus on Excess
After a successful cooperation in 2012 with the German Bundestag tackling “Sustainability” in the Focus section, this year will see the scrutiny of another current and controversial cinematic theme. Whether in the context of finance, or social togetherness: the expression “excess” is cause for fascination and alarm simultaneously, and is valued and expressed differently. In the cinematic sense, excess can play a role in terms of content or formal aesthetic. The focus this year will examine the ambiguity of the expression, as well as the diversity of its definitions, leading to an exciting, challenging and entertaining film selection.
Prizes, Prominence and the Public: the Sehsüchte Gala Brand
The winner of the competition will be honoured, and Sehsüchte trophies awarded during the big awards gala night on sunday. The overall value of the prizes to be given out amounts to over 50, 000 euros. The winners in the categories of feature film, documentary film, animated film, music video, producer’s prize and Focus are to be selected in advance by the corresponding expert jurors. To this end, Sehsüchte invites established artists, successful film school graduates, scientists and experts from the media industry to act as jurors. In 2012, actress Nora Tschirner recorded a video message for the winner of ”Best Feature Film”, singer Bosse championed his favorite music video, Robert Blalack, special effects specialist for the earlier Star Wars films, discussed with his colleagues as to which animated film was the best. Before the closing party in HFF begins, the audience prize will be awarded, voted on by all viewers throughout the whole week. Also the winners of the children and young adult films will be chosen by the young audience itself —especially significant for Sehsüchte as an audience festival.
We are looking forward to see you at Sehsüchte 2013!