The International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg is one of the oldest film festivals in the world and the second oldest in Germany. It is also one of the most important festivals for newcomers with what it proclaims to be "high consciousness, a strong personal vision and serious ambition". In this year's jubilee edition, which stood under the motto 'Sensuality & Truth', two film programs — Journey through time and Mannheim Revisited — celebrated the rich tradition of the festival that helped discover or promote the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Lars von Trier, Atom Egoyan, Jim Jarmusch, Krzyszof Kieslowski and Thomas Vinterberg.
The official competition showcased 15 full-length features of directorial newcomers (first or second film) from all over the world; with three movies from Argentina — Industria Argentina, Chinese Take-Away (Un cuento chino), One Love (Un amor); two movies from Belgium — She's not Crying, She's Singing (Elle ne pleure pas, elle chant) and The Only Son (Fils unique); and two from Ireland — Sensation and Parked, the latter winning the main prize of the festival. The other competitors came from Romania, Iran, Iceland, Poland, Canada, Finland, China and Israel. To be eligible for entering the international competition in Mannheim, the films must not have been screened at Cannes (Competition, Semaine de la Critique, Un Certain Regard, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), Venice (Competition), Locarno (Competition), Berlin or any other festival in Germany. Despite the big variety of topics and aesthetics of this year's competition, there were two conspicuous areas of focus: Dysfunctional family/relationship structures and, of course, the effects of the drastic economic crisis of recent years.
This year's section International Discoveries included 18 films (most of them German premieres, while some were having their European or international premiere), among them the directorial debut Collaborator by the well-established actor Martin Donovan. Other films in this section came from Belgium, Russia, Australia, Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Rwanda, Poland, China (two films), Argentina, Jordan, Canada, the Netherlands, Great Britain (two films) and Denmark.
Besides these two main sections there were special screenings of six films that have already been shown in other festivals, but fit exactly in Mannheim's profile, like Lech Majewski's The Mill and the Cross (Mlyn i krzyz) or Simon Arthur's much acclaimed Silver Tongues. The other films shown in this section came from Denmark, Georgia, Great Britain and Poland.
The FIPRESCI Jury gave the prize to The Salesman (Le Vendeur) by Sebastian Pilote "for the poingnant portrayal of an ordinary man in decline both personaly and socialy in the backdrop of drastic global economic crisis". (Joachim Kurz)
Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival: www.iffmh.de