The Bolzano Film Festival Bozen, which ended on 17 April, recorded an increase of over 30% in the number of visitors: confirming the success of the new features introduced for the thirtieth edition.
Thirty years have passed since the Festival was created in order to let producers and distributors north of Brenner know more about the existence of audiences who wanted to enjoy the new German cinema in the original language. In this particular regard (there are two audiences: German speakers and Italian speakers), many things have changed. “We felt the need to open ourselves up”, explains the director, Helene Christanell: “no longer just to the north. It has always been important for us to create occasions for north and south to meet, so that their cultures can dialogue”.
In fact the 2016 edition marked the thirtieth anniversary by paying greater attention to Italian cinema (three out of the eight features in competition were Italian: “Lost and beautiful” by Pietro Marcello, “Land of Saints” by Fernando Muraca and “Era d’estate” by Fiorella Infascelli), and this was underlined by the tribute to actor and director Sergio Castellitto, the guest of honor who was warmly welcomed by the public at a meeting moderated by journalist Franco Montini in the Foyer of the Teatro Stabile in Bolzano (“actors are often fragile and need to be embraced by the public” Castellitto admits self-mockingly). Oscar winner Jiri Menzel also talked to cinema enthusiasts in the internal courtyard of the Galleria Prisma.
“We are a festival for young directors, but you also need some famous guests at a festival”, notes Helene, pointing out another new feature of the Festival which, this year, by involving movie theaters in the center of Bolzano usually frequented by Italian speaking citizens, was also able to offer audiences the presence of Christian De Sica, the star of the opening movie “Fräulein”.
Entirely conceived in South Tyrol, “Fräulein” leads us to another identi- fying element of the Festival, the strong bond with the territory that led to the creation of the “Made in South Tyrol” section, now in its fourth edition and boasting a great public turnout (the screenings of “Fräulein” and “König Laurin”, the debut work by Matthias Lang, were packed).
In addition to the historic ties with the ZeLIG school, the collaboration with the fledgling South Tyrol Film Fund & Commission has been decisive and has led to a series of collateral initiatives, like the Campus workshop and speed dating (the third edition of the initiative aimed at young people interested in working in cinema) and the first edition of Final Touch, the training proposal for young filmmakers.
In this ecosystem the festival has accompanied the growth of an audience mainly made up of young people; this year they became even greater protagonists with the creation of a new competition the jury of which consisted of 9 high school students from South Tyrol, Trentino and Tyrol.
The organizers have been able to process in an original way the need to strengthen relations with the professional world: not, as often happens, by attempting to construct a space dedicated to the market, but by confidently taking the path of the training and promotion of new talent.
These are the guidelines that Helene Christanell aims to follow in the future as well, confirming all the initiatives launched at this edition, including Focus Europa, inaugurated this year, aimed at Slovenian cinema and featuring a large delegation of filmmakers and producers including directors Jan Cvitkovič and Janez Burger, producer Miha Černec, the director of the Portorose Festival Igor Prassel, and Nerina Kocjančič of the Slovenian Film Centre. “We thought it made more sense to dedicate some space to the less well known film industries and, for this reason, next year we will be focusing once again on an Eastern European country”.
And finally, the awards: “A Heavy Heart” by Thomas Stuber won best film, the best documentary award went to “Lampedusa im Winter” by Jakob Brossmann. The audience award went to “Our last tango” by German Kral and “The Swallow” by Mano Khalil won the Euregio Students Jury Award.