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Leave No Traces directed by Jan L. Matuszynski
Leave No Traces directed by Jan L. Matuszynski

From November 12 to 21, the 34th edition of exground filmfest will present over 150 films from 47 countries in its traditional Wiesbaden venues. As in the previous year, the festival will also feature an on-demand program and the exground filmfest YouTube channel will also once again serve as a platform for various live and archived event streams, including the festival opening and awards ceremony, as well as industry events and film talks.

“We are very happy that we were able to view so many exciting new films this year, in spite of the aggravated production conditions,” explained festival organiser Andrea Wink at today’s press conference: “It is enormously important for us to be able to return to the big screen again with the selected programme, since we would like to maintain the cinema as a space for encounters.”

In addition to the extensive program in the Country Focus USA, the feature film selection is primarily structured according to geographic criteria. Joining the Made in Germany section this year are the European Cinema and World Cinema series.

Among other films in the German selection, Ronny Trocker’s HUMAN FACTORS (Germany/Italy/Denmark, 2021) is captivating cinema. Featuring a star-studded cast, the film tells of conflict and distrust in a modern, affluent family. In staging the story, the award-winning director placed great importance on weaving the audience as tightly as possibly into the familial entanglements here, through deft camerawork.

The drama LEAVE NO TRACES (Poland, 2021), the Polish candidate for this year’s Academy Awards, may also soon be a prize-winner. Director Jan P. Matuszyński’s political film about the aftermath of a police murder treats repression, militarisation and the importance of civil rights.

Ana Katz’ absurd black-and-white film THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET (Argentina, 2021) uses short episodes to relate the life of graphic designer Sebastián, as he attempts to find his way in life, caught between deep love for his dog and an approaching disaster.

The short film program also mirrors the international diversity of exground filmfest: in addition to a selection of Iranian films, there will also be a Short Film Reel World Journey, in which four short documentary films bear witness to everyday realities around the world.

A large number of the works in the feature film programme are not afraid to formulate courageous critiques of society. Social injustice, lived reality for migrants, repression of women, queer life and the right to a future – the voices for a better and fairer world are loud in the exground filmfest programme.

For instance, the film BANTU MAMA by Ivan Herrera (Dominican Republic, 2021) deals with the fate of Emma, a French woman with African roots fleeing the police, who decides to hide in Santo Domingo. In the midst of a Black diaspora, she finds a home here in a community of three orphaned children.

In the documentary film LUCHADORAS (Germany/Mexico, 2021), Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasmin paint a portrait of three female Mexican wrestlers. Raised in Juárez, a city shaken to the core by the drug war, they fight self-assuredly against received gender roles and for justice.

YOUTH TOPIA (Germany/Switzerland, 2021) by Dennis Stormer and Marisa Meier depicts a dystopian society, in which every individual’s life is determined by algorithms. When the latter assigns none other than Peter-Pan-esque protagonist Wanja a position as a privileged architect, she has to decide whether or not she intends to grow up.

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