The Lusatian city of Cottbus, located in the South-East of the German land of Brandenburg, about 120 km away from Berlin and only a stone's throw away from the Polish border, is the ideal host for a film festival with a focus on Middle and Eastern European cinema. The "Filmfestival Cottbus", "a must-attend global event" according to film industry magazine Variety, has established a strong international reputation among film professionals and lived up to its expectations for its 21rst edition by presenting a wide range of new productions from countries as varied as Russia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Georgia or Kazakhstan. This year, the "Feature Film Competition" consisted of ten films; among the other sections were, traditionally, the "Short Feature Competition", the "U 18 German-Polish Youth Film Competition" (submitted to a bi-national jury of pupils from Cottbus and the Polish city of Zielona Góra) or the section "National Hits" (presenting East European blockbusters hardly known outside their home countries). Also, in anticipation of the European Football Cup 2012, the "Eastern Europe by Regions" put a focus on the two host countries of the sports event, Poland and the Ukraine. Furthermore, the festival has also become a popular meeting place for the industry. Via its platform "Connecting Cottbus", filmmakers, producers and possible financiers come together in order to discuss future cinematic projects and collaborations.
This year's festival also saw the re-opening of a prestigious venue, the Weltspiegel cinema. Having been a regular festival venue since the beginning of the festival, the historic cinema built in 1911, underwent some costly renovations during the past year. They were truly worth the while, for now the Eastern Art Nouveau staircase can be admired again in all its splendour as well as the beautiful, gold plated coffered ceiling in the big screening hall. It has a capacity of 500 seats and combines excellent acoustics with the latest 3D digital projection and satellite technology. Other venues included the beautiful Art Nouveau Stadtheater Cottbus, where the opening ceremony took place, as well as the huge Stadthalle, also serving as festival communication centre and more intimate cinemas like the Kammerbühne and the Obenkino.
The Cottbus public also responds with constant and growing interest. In the last years, admissions have constantly increased and this year's attendance boasted a new record of over 19.000 viewers that is to say nearly every fifth inhabitant of the city. (Kira Taszman)
Cottbus Festival of East European Cinema: www.filmfestivalcottbus.de