Diverse, gutsy and all-encompassing, the Hamburg International Short Film Festival (or to give its German title, Internationales KurzFilmFestival Hamburg, or IKFF) is one of the most successful – and important – short film fests in the world. Famed for its huge screening programme and dedication to the cinematic discipline of short films, be they mainstream, independent, animated, or just downright weird and provocative, the IKFF is a huge draw for filmmakers, industry professionals and short film enthusiasts alike.
Formed in 1985 as a one-night event titled ‘NoBudget’ – and many of the works screened during this inaugural occasion really were made with little to no money – the festival has its origins in the indie filmmaking movement. Its aim since its humble beginnings has been to emphasise the independent nature of creating short films and to provide a unique platform for filmmakers to showcase their work – leading to a much wider audience for the art form.
That this has been successful is undeniable: a name change from ‘NoBudget’ to Internationales KurzFilmFestival Hamburg took place in 1994, and it has never looked back. 2014 saw the IKFF celebrate its 30th birthday, with more than 15,000 people in attendance and over 320 films shown in national and international competitions, and specially selected categories designed to showcase both early, envelope-pushing work and new or modern shorts. These sections include Made in Germany, Country Focus, Children’s Films ‘Mo & Friese’, and Three-Minute Quickie, covering a broad range of genres – documentaries, dramas, animation and comedy all feature.
Films screened at Hamburg celebrate short cinema in all its forms, from experimental four-minute efforts to intense family dramas that clock half an hour for their running time, and most take part in the competition programme which has a prize fund of $25,000 dollars. These are broken down into various categories, such as the Hamburg Short Film Award, the Audience Award, and the Jury Award for Most Innovative Film, with the prize money split between sections.
The festival also organizes special events such as seminars, workshops and panels, along with a film market which attracts buyers, distributors and theatrical exhibitors looking for the next big thing in the world of short movies. Its year-round programme includes special mini-events which have included the 30 Hour Short Film Marathon in June 2014, open-air screenings, Suspense After Midnight (ominously taglined with ‘I have a very bad feeling about this…’), and the Crowds for Shorts competition held each summer.
The 31st edition of the Hamburg International Short Film Festival takes place from the 2nd to the 8th of June 2015 at numerous venues across the city, including Festivalzentrum, Gymnasium Ohmoor and the Metropolis.