The Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival is one of the oldest and most respected cinematic events in Germany. It was founded in 1952 (only one year after the Berlinale), and over the decades, its aim has never changed: to give new directors the opportunity to reveal their talent and show their first features to a wide, passionate audience. Therefore IFFMH has established itself as one of the key European festivals dedicated to new filmmaking, an essential and always interesting overview of young international talent.
As festival director Michael Koetz proudly emphasized during the closing ceremony, this is a festival based on quality rather than quantity. This year, almost 50 films were screened at the Mannheimer Stadthaus and the Heidelberger Schloss, including out-of-competition screenings and a small, carefully curated Children's Movies section. The New Master of Cinema award went to the Belgian filmmaker Geoffrey Enthoven, a beloved friend of the festival.
The International Competition comprised 13 feature films from Europe, Asia and South America. The main jury, headed by Polish screenwriter Maciej Karpinski, awarded the top prize for Newcomer of the Year to 23 Seconds (23 Segundos) by Dimitry Rudakov, a director born in the Ukraine but based in Montevideo. The other two prizes, the Mannheim-Heidelberg Award and the Special Award of the Jury, went respectively to the Azerbaijani film Nabat by Elchin Musaoglu and to Nelson Xavier, the lead actor of the Brazilian film Farewell (A Despedida) by Marcelo Galvão.
The International Discoveries section was composed of 11 debut features from Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America and Europe. From this section came the winner of the Audience Award: Ghadi by Amin Dora, a Lebanese movie which was very well received by critics and the public.
The FIPRESCI jury judged the International Competition, and we had to face a very hard and painful decision. In the end, the FIPRESCI Prize was awarded unanimously to Nabat for its "extraordinary depiction of the committed, compassionate and solitary resistance of an old woman during wartime, and for the director's unique use of film language, with images poetically evolving from village landscapes to allegory."
In addition to the undeniable quality of the films, it is important to mention the wonderful work of the festival staff (press and public relations, guest services, etc.): a young, competent and professional team who offered daily help and support to critics and film delegations, making an extremely significant contribution to the lovely ambience of this year's festival. (Massimo Lechi)
International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg: www.iffmh.de