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Oldenburg Film Festival: 31st Anniversary

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Oldenburg Film Festival: 31st Anniversary
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By the point most festivals enter their third decade, they’ve settled into a well-known groove the place youthful insurrection has given approach to respectability and the occasion provides few actual surprises.

The Oldenburg Movie Pageant, which turns 31 this yr, remains to be ready for that respectability label. However Germany’s main indie cine fest has the insurrection half down pat, persevering with to have fun the rebels and rogues, the forgotten masters, and the up-and-coming underdogs of impartial moviemaking.

Forward of this yr’s occasion, THR presents an inventory of the (no less than) 31 issues any Oldenburg beginner ought to know. 

1. The Dates The thirty first Oldenburg Pageant runs Sept. 11-15, 2024.

2. The situation The small metropolis (inhabitants 170,000) of Oldenburg, Germany, a medieval city based in 1108.

3. The inspiration Oldenburg was launched in 1994 as Germany’s reply to Sundance. It got here within the midst of the ’90s indie movie increase — Pulp Fiction had simply received the Palme d’Or in Cannes and Oldenburg’s inaugural lineup included Spike Lee’s Crooklyn and Peter Medak’s Romeo Is Bleeding, starring Gary Oldman.

4. The founder Torsten Neumann based and has run Oldenburg from the beginning, staying true to his impartial roots by programming films that proceed to problem conference and mainstream cinema, whether or not artwork home or business.

5. get there Oldenburg is about half an hour from Bremen. Fly in (or take a practice from Hamburg or Berlin) and it’s a fast hop from there.

6. The price Oldenburg costs $54 (50 euros) for characteristic movie submissions and $27 (25 euros) for shorts submitted by the Could 24 deadline. (It prices $48 if you will get them in by March 29, $75 for late submissions from Could 25 to June 14).

7. The State Theatre Oldenburg’s imposing 18th-century opera home is the epic location the place the pageant holds its centerpiece premieres, as effectively the opening and shutting ceremonies.

8. The events Oldenburg’s bashes are legendary. Yearly, the pageant holds a secret blowout in an undisclosed location, normally a retrofitted constructing someplace within the metropolis. Prime spots have included an outdated fort, an underground parking storage, an deserted police station (“which felt like John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13,” says Neumann,) and the gymnasium of the city’s native elementary.

9. Indie celebration Oldenburg audiences love their indie cinema, wherever it hails from. Final yr’s “Spirit of Cinema” award winner was Petrus Cariry’s Brazilian drama Heavier Is the Sky. John Connors’ The Black Guelph, against the law thriller set within the Irish Travellers neighborhood, took one of the best movie honor in 2022 (and secured a U.S. launch through Slated.com two years later). And Pet Love, a darkish romance story from Canadian director Michael Maxxis starring Paz de la Huerta (Boardwalk EmpireEnter the Void) and Hopper (son of Sean) Penn, took the highest prize in 2020.

10. Deborah Kara Unger The Canadian actress (The Sport13Silent Hill) first attended Oldenburg in 2010. Because of an in a single day romance turned 14-year-long relationship with pageant director Neumann, she’s by no means left and is now an inseparable a part of the Oldenburg workforce.

11. German breakouts Neumann has a confirmed observe report for recognizing German impartial movies. Jan-Ole Gerster’s 2012 debut, A Espresso in Berlin, swept Oldenburg’s high prizes, taking the German Independence award, viewers award, and one of the best actor prize for star Tom Schilling, earlier than occurring to triumph at Germany’s equal to the Oscars, the German Movie Awards, or Lolas, the next yr. The 2023 finest movie winner, Ayşe Polat’s Within the Blind Spot, a twisty documentary-style conspiracy thriller set in modern-day Turkey, adopted its finest movie win in Oldenburg with Lolas for finest director and finest screenplay.

Courtesy of the Oldenburg Movie Pageant

12. Cult heroes For its retrospectives and lifelong achievement awards, Oldenburg prefers the deep cuts, honoring the shamefully forgotten or ignored. Amongst them are the likes of administrators Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I), Michael Wadleigh (WoodstockWolfen), and Ted Kotcheff (Weekend at Bernie’s, First Blood).

13. The Audacity Award In all probability the best of Oldenburg’s honors, this prize is giving to probably the most “authentic, daring and audacious movie” within the official choice that pushes the boundaries between style cinema and the avant-garde. Latest winners embrace Dominik Krawiecki and Patrycja Planik’s black-and-white, experimental satire Faggots, about gay males who’re the final survivors of a mysterious plague; and Jérôme Vandewattyne’s The Belgian Wave, a Nineties-set psychedelic drama impressed by a real-life outbreak of UFO sightings in Belgium.

14. Trailer spoofs Instead of self-important promotion, Oldenburg yearly releases a pageant trailer spoofing a serious blockbuster or cult film. Earlier targets embrace the Matrix and Quick & Livid franchises, in addition to Apocalypse Now, which featured the follicly challenged Neumann as Marlon Brando, tongue firmly in cheek.

15. DIY Movies Again in 2001, annoyed by the shortage of German indie movie custom, Oldenburg determined to create its personal, backing 99EuroFilms, a short-film omnibus mission of 12 five-minute films — every shot on a mini-DV digital camera on a 99 euro ($106) finances. Oldenburg repeated the experiment in 2003. This yr, the pageant is teaming up with Vandewattyne to provide 10 brief films directed by 10 Oldenburg alumni, impressed by Vandewattyne’s new digital music album.

16. Producers get respect Oldenburg likes to shine a light-weight on the individuals behind the scenes that make indie movie occur. Former Stanley Kubrick producer James B. Harris (The Killing, LolitaPaths of Glory) was honored in 1996; the pageant’s 2017 retrospective was devoted to maverick producer Edward R. Pressman (American Psycho, Unhealthy LieutenantThe Crow); and Jen Gatien (For EllenMidnight Solar) was feted final yr.

17. Jail screenings The pageant holds an annual screening and gala on the metropolis’s high-security jail, the JVA. This Knastkino (Jail Cinema), deliberate as a one-off in 2006, is now an Oldenburg custom, the place invited friends sit facet by facet with hardened (however well-behaved) prisoners.

18.The Platform Oldenburg has its personal VOD service, satirically named The Platform, which celebrates one of the best of the pageant’s first three many years. “It’s a sanctuary for real feelings, unfiltered voices, and untamed narratives that problem typical norms,” says Neumann.

19. The season’s coolest films Alongside its world premieres, Oldenburg’s choice options one of the best, or no less than the weirdest, films from the pageant circuit. Latest highlights embrace Julia Ducournau’s gender-and-genre-bending Palme d’Or winner Titane, and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden from Cannes; Michael Sarnoski’s Nicolas Cage starrer Pig from Edinburgh, and, from Locarno, the animated characteristic Mad God from Oscar-winning particular results grasp Phil Tippett, all of which had their German premieres at Oldenburg.

20. The discoveries Oldenburg is the place you possibly can spot the celebrities earlier than they bought huge. An 18-year-old Keira Knightley got here to Oldenburg for the German premiere of her 2001 characteristic The Gap, a yr earlier than her Bend It Like Beckham breakout. Noémie Merlant received finest actress in Oldenburg in 2016 for Twisting Destiny, years earlier than the remainder of world found her in Céline Sciamma’s 2019 Cannes Pageant hit Portrait of a Girl on Hearth

21. Stay gigs Whether or not it’s Butch Walker giving his finest Johnny Money in a jail live performance, German pop star Jan Plewka performing within the vault of an area financial institution, Asia Argento taking the stage for a jam session or Belgian trio The Experimental Tropical Blues Band rocking native pub Marvins, Oldenburg’s stay gigs are the stuff of legend.

22. Gitternet Roughly translated as “iron cage TV,” that is an in-house TV channel at Oldenburg’s high-security jail, run by the inmates. Through the pageant, Gitternet interviews administrators and expertise, giving these inside a style of indie cinema tradition.

23. Lappan Tower The historic bell tower, in-built 1467, is considered one of Oldenburg’s oldest landmarks, and among the many few buildings to have survived a fireplace in 1676 that razed town.

24. Directorial debuts Star Trek and Roots star LeVar Burton introduced his directorial debut, Attain for Me, in Oldenburg in 2008. Final yr, indie producer and energy agent Cassian Elwes (Dallas Patrons MembershipLee Daniels’ The Butler) introduced the world premiere of Passenger C, his first flip behind the digital camera. If what you actually need to do is direct, Oldenburg is for you. 

‘Passenger C’

Andrew Parke

25. Casablanca Kino Oldenburg’s first artwork home cinema, positioned on Johannisstrasse, embodies the pageant’s indie spirit, programming auteur and outside-the-mainstream films year-round.

26. Somtow Sucharitkul The world of classical music is aware of Sucharitkul as a groundbreaking Thai conductor and composer, however for pageant followers, Sucharitkul is the author and star of The Maestro, a B-movie schlock horror story that received Oldenburg’s spirit of cinema award in 2021. Since then, Sucharitkul has been a pageant common, usually attending with members of his Siam Sinfonietta youth orchestra. 

27. Activism Oldenburg prefers to place its films earlier than its politics, however has been identified to step up when required. In 2013, the pageant shone a highlight on exiled Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari (From Tehran to London), who fled her nation after a crackdown on regime-critical filmmakers. In 2021, it held the world premiere of Myanmar characteristic What Occurred to the Wolf? whereas the movie’s star, Eaindra Kyaw Zin, was nonetheless in jail for anti-government exercise and its director, Na Gyi, was in hiding (the place he stays to today).

28. Front room premieres In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down public occasions worldwide, Oldenburg discovered a approach to maintain premieres in an online-only world by getting native pageant followers to host mini-galas in their very own properties (German COVID laws allowed for small teams to assemble in personal residences). The administrators and stars of the invited movies walked personal crimson carpets (full with socially distanced paparazzi) to look at their premiere collectively on the sofa and reply questions in intimate Q&As. Oldenburg streamed the entire thing stay.

29. Saturday tapas at Caldero In what’s turn into an annual pageant custom, attendees collect on Saturday afternoon, post-hangover, pre-screenings, for a tapas (or paella) top-up on the metropolis’s legendary Spanish restaurant, positioned proper subsequent to Metropolis Corridor.

30. Seymour Cassel The late, nice actor, whose profession in indie cinema stretched from Seventies John Cassavetes options to Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, grew to become Oldenburg’s largest booster after being honored with a pageant retrospective in 2008. Oldenburg repaid him by renaming its appearing prize the Seymour Cassel Award in his honor.

31. Nicolas Cage! Oscar winner Nicolas Cage might be the most important star to stroll Oldenburg’s cobbled streets, attending the pageant to obtain its 2016 lifetime achievement honor. The Face/Off and Wild at Coronary heart actor went off-piste, testing an Oldenburg dive bar and consuming into the evening with an area bowling membership. 

Nicolas Cage on the 2016 Oldenburg Movie Pageant.

Tim Bruening

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