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Chemkids by Julius Gintaras Blum

64 short films from 29 countries screen in the three competition sections of the 35th edition of Filmfest Dresden taking place April, 18 to 23, 2023 in Dresden, Germany.

In the three competition sections, the number of female (co-)directors amounts to approximately the same number as their male colleagues.

The 30 films in total being screened in the International Competition consist of 13 animated films – including Our Pain by Hayashi Shunsaku from Japan, who won a Golden Horseman for REMEMBER at the 2016 Filmfest Dresden – eleven fiction films and six hybrid pieces.

Of the 26 works being screened in the National Competition, six films were made as co-productions with countries such as Ecuador, Croatia and Columbia.

Numerous works are exploring the subject of gender diversity beyond heteronormativity. In I Knew You Were My Kind (Simțeam Că Ești De a Mea) by Vanessa Gunesch in the National Competition, two Romanian caregivers share a moment of solidarity and tenderness that challenges the structural norms of their daily lives. The Portuguese film An Avocado Pit by Zara Ary (International Competition) reveals a carefree and optimistic encounter between a trans woman and a cis man in the nightlife of Lisbon. Bodily gender reassignment despite all the odds represents the focus of the short documentary To Write From Memory by Emory Chao Johnson from the USA (International Competition), which celebrated its world premiere at this year’s Berlinale (Generation).

The subjects of climate change and environmental protection provide the focal point for several works: In the National Competition, Job Antoni Schellekens talks in his film Mudhole (Moddergat) about more and less absurd methods for mitigating the dangers of climate change. A further pressing issue of mankind consist of rubbish, which Susann Maria Hempel focuses on in her work The Guardians of Refuse. A Short History of Rubbish (Die Hüter Des Unrats. Eine Kurze Geschichte Des Abfalls).

A powerful filmic commentary on this year’s focal theme of antiracism is provided by Mario Pfeifer with his film Cell 5 – A Reconstruction (Zelle 5 – Eine Rekonstruktion) about the unexplained death of the asylum seeker Oury Jallo, who burnt to death in a prison cell in Dessau in 2005.

Regional filmmaking is being showcased in the Central German Competition. In several of the eight works being screened, music is accorded a role: In their music video Mróčele, the Kolektiw Klanki collective are casting their own fresh look at Sorbian culture. With Cybo, Lou Wildemann has created experimental visual worlds to the track of the same name by Poly Poly. And the soundtrack (Daydreamer) for Julius Gintaras Blum’s documentary Chemkids is provided by Selma Juhran, who was born in Chemnitz, performs in the film and is a voice-over artist in it.

The International Competition is also represented by some prominent names: The Romanian director and screenwriter Radu Jude has already received numerous awards for his films, such as at the Berlinale (2021 Golden Bear for Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn and 2015 Silver Bear Best Director for AFERIM!). This year, Radu Jude is a member of the international jury at the Berlinale. At Filmfest Dresden, his latest short The Potemkinists (Potemkinistii) is being screened.

Not only has the Canadian director Matthew Rankin curated the Focus Québec screening program at Filmfest Dresden this year. He is also presenting his film Municipal Relaxation Module in the International Competition.

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