8th IFF Days of Russian and German Short Films VKRATZE! took place on December 4-13. This year, the international festival in Volgograd was supported by Goethe-Institute (Moscow) and included online screenings with viewers’ voting, lectures, discussions with filmmakers on the festival’s website and social media, as well as one “real-life” screening. The festival was organized by Open City NGO (ANO).
VKRATZE! film festival ended on December 13 with a viewers’ “real-life” meeting at M. Gorky’s Volgograd Regional Library, where the best movies (as decided by the jury and the curators) were screened, followed by a discussion. In total, the festival offered its viewers 20 Russian and German films in the main program and 13 movies from Russia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Argentina and other countries in the children’s program. Also, the festival performed its traditional Short Export special screening, provided by AG-Kurzfilm, Germany, German Films and other partners. The program included 6 films by young German directors, selected from over 600 contestants at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (France). Each of VKRATZE!’s programs consisted of short films belonging to different genres – feature films, documentaries, animated and experimental works, with duration ranging from 1.5 to 30 minutes.
The festival jury members were Russian and German filmmakers: producer and director Fabian Driehorst (Germany), director and animator Natalya Berezovaya (Russia), writer, artist, director of animated films Asya Umarova (Russia), director and lecturer Vita Gudilina (Russia), director and film writer Tamara Bocharova (Russia).
The competition in the
programs had the following results. The Main Program’s Best Film Award (1st
place) was given to a German drama Freigang / Day Release (directed by
Martin Winter), also awarded for Best Screenplay. Anna Suk, who
played the leading role, received the Best Actress award. Anna’s
character, Kathi, is a single mother who gets a one-day release from prison to
see her 3-year-old son living with his estranged grandmother. It turns out that
the boy grows up in awful conditions. Kathi struggles to provide a better
future for him but she has only one day to find a solution.
The 2nd place was given to a resonating German film Der Transport / Cargo (directed by Christina Tournatzés). This feature film is based on a real tragic event that happened in Europe in 2015: 71 refugees lost their lives during an illegal transit through Hungary. The story focuses on the truck driver (Best Actor winner Ovanes Torosyan), who must follow the order to keep on moving given by the smugglers’ leader, while suffocating people are screaming and pleading for mercy.
Animated documentary from
Germany Die Tochter / My Daughter (directed by Falk Schuster, Max Mönch,
Alexander Lahl) won the 3rd place. The film tells the
story of a father who went to Syria to find his daughter because she started a
new life as a Jihadist’s wife.
Yana Osman’s experimental Paradise Spoiled received the Jury’s Special Mention. The movie creates the image of a lost paradise by documenting installation of outdoor bathtubs in Moscow’s Shukino district during a planned hot water outage and by showing honest discussions with the locals.
The Best Film award in the Children’s (Family) Program was given to an Indian movie Dreams (directed by Athithya Kanagarajan). Schoolkid Dilip (winner of the program’s Best Actor Award) works as a paper boy and wants to invite former president Abdul Kalam to his school annual event. Kalam accepts the invitation but unfortunately the boy cannot meet his role model and has to step up and do something himself.
The 2nd place was given to The Witch & the Baby animated film by Evgenia Golubeva (Russia). Evgenia already won a VKRATZE! award in 2018 for her I Want to Live in the Zoo cartoon. Her new work is also aimed at a younger audience and shows how a witch can take care of a small child, overcoming her foul temper.
Feature film Boje / (directed by Andreas Cordes, Robert Köhler, Germany) received the 3rd place. The film focuses on communication between a grown-up and a child – the trending theme of our festival. Boje and his father Holke live on the seashore and the boy keeps asking a lot of questions. Holke is not a great talker, so he comes up with a smart way to answer him via messages in a bottle, seemingly sent by the sea itself. One day Boje discovers his father’s trick but this reveal makes their bond even stronger.
An Israeli film Give It Back! (directed by Ruchama Ehrenhalt) was awarded with the Jury’s Special Mention. This is a story of a girl who gets bullied in school (another important topic of this year’s festival – in Lukas Nathrath’s Kippa, the main program participant, a Jewish guy is being bullied in a European school). Olivia recently moved to Israel from New York. During her first day in the 6th grade, she is trying to survive and come to grips with the new country, school and students. Just like in Kippa, the salvation lies in staying who you really are and keeping a true friendship. Ora Knapel, who played Olivia’s role, was awarded Best Actress in the Children’s Program.
Following our festival’s tradition, the curators prepared their special award. This year it was given to Alexander Vasilyev’s Hello, My Dears – a 3.5-minute-long animated film about a lonely old woman and her strange relatives, with a heart-warming message and a surprise ending. It has already won several awards, including Best Student’s Film in 2019 Open Russian Festival of Animated Film in Suzdal.
During the festival, our viewers had the opportunity to vote for the movies they liked most on our website – the winner would receive the Viewer’s Choice Award. This year, it was given to Moscow-Vladivostok, an optimistic and reassuring movie by Ivan Sosnin, a successful young director from Yekaterinburg. The film tells the story of an inexperienced musician Sasha and an aged blue-collar worker Ivan, who travel in the same railway compartment and suddenly start writing songs together. The plot gets an unexpected twist when it turns out Ivan has to get off the train long before Sasha.
Despite the online format, VKRATZE! did not forget about its educational program and organized four lectures on cinematography. Media researcher, Candidate of Political Sciences Vladislav Dekalov explained how digitalization changes our relations with films, VKRATZE! curator Alexander Akulinichev traced the history of short films from the dawn of cinema to the present day, Doctor of Philosophical Studies Alexander Pavlov talked about cult movies and their weirdness, while Candidate of Philosophical Sciences Dmitry Skvortsov gave a practical class titled “How to Watch Movies”.
All lectures can be found on VKRATZE! Youtube channel and social media accounts. Besides, producer and director Fabian Driehorst gave a special “Creative Solutions in Film Development and Production” workshop for aspiring filmmakers.
VKRATZE! Days of German and Russian Short Films international festival is organized by Open City autonomous non-profit organization of human capital development, under the support of Goethe-Institute (Moscow). The festival was established in 2013.
Official VKRATZE! website: http://vkratze-fest.ru/ru/