35 Years in the EAK
Ruth Maria König, the grand old lady and Honorary President of the EAK, joined the EAK 35 years ago. Today Ruth König is 94 years old.
With vigorous strides she walks from her library into the living room to move a heavy oak chair in front of a monitor. She refuses help. "I can still do that!" She shows guests her latest film. "I live and breathe by making films," says Ruth König, inserting a DVD and letting the pictures from last year's trip to Egypt run their course. The film is 40 minutes long, and with steady pans, rock-solid images and an eye for detail, the world of the pharaohs comes to life - in the historic King's House in Lindau.
"I still have piles of film footage and I'm going to have it digitised." If tactfully asked, when the elaborate and extensive work with the old material might be done, Ruth König refers spiritedly firstly to the long-lives of all the women in the family and secondly to her cousin, who is 103 years old. "I would like to live to be 110 years old, maybe 120!”
In the 35 years of her membership in the EAK, Ruth König laid the foundations for friendly interaction between the film makers. And then she repeats the sentence she has said so often, which was never meant completely seriously, but expresses the philosophy of the EAK and represents the loving attention to each individual author: "Remember, you have all made a masterpiece!"
We would like to congratulate you on your 35 years of membership in the EAK and wish you all the best in your wonderful hobby of filming.
2018 is coming to an end and I hope that you can look back with satisfaction on the past filmmaking year.
Surely you will be looking forward to the 2019 film year and creating films for us with new energy and presenting to us your new amateur films shot with much love at the respective forums as well as at the Euro-Filmfestival in Harsefeld.
The holidays before us will be a good opportunity to realise some more ideas and so I wish you a merry and blessed Christmas, which hopefully you will be able to spend at leisure and in good health.
I wish you a successful and healthy new year with many eventful and exciting get-togethers among us EAK filmmakers.
As long-standing managing director of the EAK and at your own request you are not standing for office again, so the EAK managing director is no longer available for the upcoming election.
You confided in me, that you want to put the honorary office in other hands to have more time for your family. With all my heart I know you have earned this. Nevertheless, as far as your exemplary commitment within the EAK board is concerned, I very much regret your decision.
Our mutual, trusting cooperation within the EAK board of directors has been demonstrated and personified by you. Your organisational talent at the board meetings was not only exemplary in Weidenbach, but also your cake – baked according to the Franconian recipe – was always delicious. Unfortunately, I will have to do without it in the future.
What’s more your organisation of the Euro-Filmfestivals in Ansbach 2007 and the 50th anniversary of our foundation in 2015 left nothing to be desired and shows how good you are at communication.
On behalf of the board, I wish you and your husband Peter plenty of nice travels, combined with the best of health, and trust you will remain loyal and faithful to the EAK in the future.
Your film friend Uwe
Gerhard Plambeck turned 90 this December, and his passion for amateur film still drives him today. Gerhard Plambeck never misses an opportunity to attend film events. The shooting of his last film wasn't that long ago.
"Gegen das Vergessen" (Lest we Forget) is a moving film in which Plambeck deals with his experiences during the Second World War. The impetus for filming came from his work as a pyrotechnician in a professional movie.
Numerous appearances as a supporting actor and an extra have given the always inquisitive Plambeck a deeper insight into "how they do it". Gerhard Plambeck was a juror at the EAK for many years. The lovable film enthusiast could have a fit if the masking was missing in the projection of super-eight films or was poorly adjusted. At the end of the nineties, Gerd Plambeck was one of the first to open a club cinema. No television station in Germany missed it. And even the former Ufa star Ilse Werner, the woman with whom he was friends until her death, loved this little cinema above all else. "Plammi, I feel so at home in your cinema!"
That's what we still feel today and wish you, dear Gerd., happy times in your wonderful age, with the love of film and by your side, your film-friends.
It was fun again, and the audience was enthusiastic about the variety of the film entries shown: 14 works from the film programme of the Euro-Filmfestival 2018 in Bludenz, selected and informally presented by me as country representative of Forum North.
On 20 October, around 45 film-makers from Northern Germany met in a convivial get-together for coffee and cakes in the "Pferdestall", in Ammersbek, the venue on Hamburg's north-eastern border. Although 15 people from Northern Germany had travelled to Bludenz and enjoyed the festival, the response to this matinee was surprisingly high, despite it not being a public event. This meeting once again proved that sociability and film presentations go hand in hand.
The time before the start of the event and in the generous breaks were enthusiastically used for talking. The happy faces of the guests and the positive comments on this gathering of the Eurofilmers were at once the reward and the impetus for the organiser and the diligent helpers, who were happy to provide material and time for their hobby and the EAK. Without them events like this afternoon would not be possible.
Many thanks to all of you who contributed to the EAK in this way. I look forward to the next time!
As many of you will have understood, my article in the last issue of Eurofilmer Digital was not new. Actually, it was written and printed in Der Eurofilmer some 15 years ago. In this article I will tell something about the development since the first article was published.
In some ways, the situation is the same. There are still many creative young filmmakers, but most of them are not in clubs or federation. They form their own small groups and workshops. There are also still many older video amateurs, and there are clubs for these, with meetings not least about technique. The number of these traditional clubs is going down, but the number of filmers is probably increasing.
As in other countries, the technical development of smartphones has led to a decrease in the sale of video cameras. The sales figures for video cameras in Norway went down with almost 50 % from 2015 to 2016, and further down until now. The sale of smart phones, on the contrary, of course goes up.
The organised Norwegian amateur film culture has undergone great changes. The most important is that the Norwegian amateur film and video federation has ceased to exist. However, the most vital video clubs have got a new home in The Norwegian Society for Photography. This is a huge organisation with 4000 members in more than 120 clubs (and a few members who are not affiliated to any club). Some 8 to 10 clubs are for video makers, so we are a small minority with approximately 150-200 members.
The Society (as we call it for short) has taken over the responsibility for the Norwegian amateur film championship. However, this competition is now open only to members of the Society. Contrary to how it is in many other countries – and in the EAK – non-members cannot participate. In my opinion, this is a pity, as allowing non-members to the championship could help to recruit new members. However, the rules imply that also the still photographers who are members of the Society, can participate in the championship if they make videos. They are, as you have seen, several thousands. Few of them take part in the video championship, however, but it happens from time to time. It is my hope that more and more photographers will turn to video in the future.
There have been great changes in the international connections for Norwegian amateur filmmakers, some positive and some negative. When I wrote my first article, there existed an Eurofilmforum in Oslo, which sent several good films to the Eurofilmfestival. It was organized by Oslo Kamera Klubb. Unfortunately, this forum ceased to exist about 10 years ago. The reason for this is unclear, but the consequence was that for some years there were no Norwegian films in the Eurofilmfestival at all. This is better now, In the 3 last years you have seen films from leading Norwegian authors, like Terje Idsø, Per Øgland and the club in Bergen, in the Eurofilmfestival. A revival of the Eurofilmforum in Oslo, however, is not very likely.
Norway is now also a member of the UNICA and send films and delegates there. We are unfortunately not doing as well in UNICA as our Swedish neighbours. The regional international video festivals, with participants from Norway and our neighbouring countries, have ceased to exist. Up to the beginning of this century there were two such festivals. One of them was the Nordic festival, with participation from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and occasionally Iceland. The other was the Baltic festival, with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and occasionally St. Petersburgand occasionally the Nordic countries. Neither the Nordic nor the Baltic festival exist anymore, but the Estonian federation has established a big and successful festival where Norwegians often take part.
More Norwegian authors should send their films abroad. They should also travel more. I see it as a task for me to get more Norwegian films in the Eurofilmfestival, and hopefully also more Norwegian authors travelling there.
Working on the festival jury from 17 to 19 July 2018 in Bludenz in Austria was a hot time, both in terms of temperatures and the volume of work with the evaluation of 63 films in three days.
It requires a great empathy for the medium of amateur film, to rise to such a challenge. In addition the task requires extensive general knowledge, and so far as possible, professional qualifications in the field of film design; plus acquired experience in judging on previous competitions.
The team that awarded the points in Bludenz and provided the authors with honest and critical comments for the additional "The jury said," remarks handed over with the certificates, did a good job. That’s how I felt as the head of the jury.
A jury, if it is to be successful, needs a harmonious atmosphere between the jurors and the organisers. We had that, not least due to the attentive care of Werner Scheﬀknecht, his wife Gaby and her team.
The procedure is basically always the same, and yet every time there are differences. Good organisation is important.
The first day of the judging was from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. – of course with breaks. After each film 10 minutes were available for recording the points on the evaluation sheet, reading the points, updating an Excel table and noting the comments for "The jury said". In a preliminary discussion before the beginning of the jury meeting, it was emphatically pointed out once again, that we must refrain from making comments not directly related to the film in question.
This generally works quite well, but must be recalled again and again during a three-day session. The jury in Bludenz had at most a 15-minute overrun, which had to be offset again and again by reducing the breaks.
The evaluations according to our point system are not homogeneous, they clearly show the different perceptions, which lie behind the personality of each juror and which are also due to the complexity of our medium.
But very important is the fundamental agreement of all jurors with regard to the question which evaluation is the most appropriate for a film in the end: gold, silver, bronze or a diploma? Experience has shown that this does not require much effort, unless a film is at the borderline between two categories. Then it will be difficult, and films that are included in these sensitive zones cannot be extensively critiqued in the short time frame of the judging. They are deferred, and discussed in detail after the end of the judging process.
This takes time, reasoning skills and, above all, the flexibility and willingness of each juror to question himself and, if necessary, correct himself. It is the most exciting phase of such an extensive adjudication as we had this year with 63 films to consider.
Experience has shown that 20 to 25% of the submitted films are always borderline cases. Detached from the pressure of time, the discussion is fierce, heated and controversial, but in Bludenz, was done as usual in a friendly atmosphere.
The result may mean an increase, or a decrease of the preliminary judgement. For this purpose, point scores have to be corrected by one juror or another. The end of such a determination process after the best possible fair evaluation of a film is always a vote, which then takes place as unanimously as possible. That happened in Bludenz in every case. If this careful and reliable procedure is practiced, there may be a difference of opinion between the jurors but nothing more.
At the end of the judging days, the exhaustion of participants is clear. They are not half-dead, they are happy to have done their job, hopefully to the satisfaction of authors. But this hope is never fulfilled. The quite understandable affection of some authors for their works occasionally takes the forms of deep motherly love: "My child doesn't squint; it has to look like this!" This makes it difficult for a jury member to survive undamaged or, perhaps, to go joyfully into a new battle for the evaluation of films.
It would be nice if more EAK members would decide to participate as jurors and spend a few days in a friendly and responsible cooperation with other enthusiastic filmmakers, to take the day off. Res Gnehm from Switzerland offers courses for jurors, and also in the north there will certainly be opportunities to train jurors. By the way: there is no better training for your own film work than the work of a juror.
For the second time I was a juror for the Eurofilmers, this time in Bludenz.
Peter Klüver gave me detailed information about the type of judging in advance. I found that was very helpful, because with the Eurofilmers judging is done in a completely different way than I've known it from competitions in Austria. I liked the scoring. I think you can use this kind of evaluation to go into the films in more detail.
We saw the competition entries with professional video technology and the best sound.
There were 63 films to be judged. In cinematic terms, the competition was at a very high level, with some outstanding top films.
I was impressed by the diversity of the film themes. The jury's assessment was usually very uniform. Each film was discussed in detail by the jury as soon as it was screened. Peter Klüver then summarised the jury's opinion in a few sentences for the authors. I hope that the jury succeeded in giving the authors not only criticism but also some suggestions for film production in these short comments.
The hospitality remained at a high standard throughout the event. In the breaks we were spoiled by Werner's wife, Gaby, with coffee, cakes and other drinks. The delicious dinners in Werner's and Gaby's beautiful home will also remain in my memory for a long time.
Yes, there were three exhausting but beautiful days that I was allowed to spend in Bludenz.
It was a good and very harmonious piece of teamwork.
On November 10th, 30 participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland met for the Jury workshop organised by Schaffhausen Filmclub.
Willi Waser and Heinz Hofstettler were responsible for the framework of the event, many thanks for the great organisation and the coffee. Workshop leader and creator of the current jury system was Hansruedi Wiget. He was supported by Res Gnehm.
The nine evaluation points were carefully presented. The participants, all of them active filmmakers, were very involved, which made for an exciting morning session. After a fine lunch and many lively discussions, three films were judged in the afternoon. Each participant slipped into the role of a juror and judged the films shown to the best of their knowledge and belief. In general, we found that no jury system or jury can give 100% true feedback.
Every film is a personal work of an author and cannot always be judged flawlessly. However, a meaningful feedback to the film makers can be offered, which should help them to make future films in even higher quality.
At the final aperitif, which was donated by SIFA, there was again a lively exchange among filmmakers. Many thanks to all those who took part in the workshop and who have now gained a deeper insight into the judging process.
Dear Eurofilmers from near and far!
As president of the EAK, I am pleased to report on this year’s meeting in Bludenz, located in Vorarlberg, Austria. On the occasion of its 45th anniversary, the Bludenz Filmclub hosted the 40th Euro-Filmfestival in the magical little town of Bludenz, set among impressive mountain ranges.
In my welcoming speech at the mayor's reception I quoted from Charles Kettering on the subject of happiness: "Happiness is usually only a collective name for efficiency, wisdom, diligence and perseverance". This should now be the main focus of my report and be discussed in more detail.
How true this quote is still today, which shows how lucky we Eurofilmers were to be able to fall back on such a wonderful organiser as our Werner Scheffknecht with his team, the Bludenz Filmclub.
Even luckier: we were able to warmly congratulate the film club on its 45th anniversary. We wish you all the best for the future and above all a lot of fun with our creative hobby of “filming" with a group of like-minded people.
Fortunately, the EAK could also congratulate a very committed chairman, Werner Scheﬀknecht, who is celebrating his 30th anniversary as chairman of the Bludenz Filmclub this year. You, dear Werner – as the head of the whole organisation – have spent a lot of time, effort and passion on this. I would also like to thank your dear wife, Gaby, who has always been a great help to you.
We are also lucky that we found excellent equipment on hand for our festival, which left nothing to be desired. We all know how much work is involved in arranging such an event. Our special thanks go to all the organisers, who worked diligently behind the scenes and made our days as pleasant as could be.
Our special thanks go to the city of Bludenz for their support and to all other sponsors who contributed to the perfect preparation of the festival. Above all, I would like to mention the mayor of the city of Bludenz, Mandi Katzenmayer, who took the opportunity to attend the banquet and awards ceremony in the mountain restaurant Muttersberg on Saturday.
I would also like to mention the city councillor for culture and associations Christoph Thoma and thank you for the greetings in our festival brochure.
Fortunately for us, we Eurofilmers also enjoyed your hospitality, and the warmth with which we were received and entertained by you. Our thanks go to the hard-working ladies who served us with the lovingly baked cakes.
Your friendliness and helpfulness are exemplary.
The well-planned bus trip to the Vorarlberg power plant and the alternative city tour through Bludenz were very informative for all participants. We like to think back to the convivial evenings in the Kohldampf Inn. These evenings will also remain in our happy memories for a long time to come.
Our authors were also lucky, as they had to establish themselves in the various forums with their films and qualify for this year's Euro-Filmfestival by achieving a certain number of points. Not an easy task, because to produce a film needs a lot of skill but also efficiency, diligence and perseverance.
As in previous years, many high-quality films in the fields of documentary, reportage, fiction, animation and travel were shown in the Remise Cultural Centre in Bludenz.
It was not an easy task for the jury, which met in July 2018 in a former school building of the city of Bludenz. The result is impressive, as 8 gold, 31 silver and 24 bronze medals were awarded to the authors this year.
There were 63 interesting and really great movies and 21 minute-movies shown, which did not diminish the conviviality and interaction that we all wanted. One can, as so often in life, disagree as to whether more films enrich the festival, but the number of films has contributed to this balanced relationship of sociability and to the entertaining viewing of films in a relaxed atmosphere, on a well-organised schedule and in a positive mood.
The wisdom, diligence and perseverance of all the organisers contributed to the success of this year's EUROFILM FESTIVAL 2018 in Bludenz.
At the end I can only express the wish that we may spend many hours together at EAK-Festival meetings in the future, combined with enjoying further interesting and creative film ideas.
The active film makers came together in the summer city of Bludenz. Werner Scheffknecht and his team had prepared a challenging film and supporting events. I found the concept of the programme booklet remarkable (Photos of every film author). The projection of 63 films and 21 one-minute-movies in the Remise was done with professional equipment. Picture and sound were of very good quality. The ambience was relaxed and cosy, as you would expect with a gathering of friends. There was enough time between the projection blocks to chat with chums in a relaxed and stress-free way.
As is traditional the "reportages" were in the majority, and many film makers had used the full 20 minutes running time permitted. I often had the impression that many authors wanted to show everything they had seen on a journey. Whether the pictures also contributed to the story was of secondary importance. Too bad, because many films with good and stable shots could have been much more moving in a shorter film. I was thrilled by the unfortunately few animated films! They all showed a lot of creativity and told a good, comprehensible and meaningful story in a short time.
At many film festivals the first projection day is used to show the less good films. In Bludenz, however, there was an extraordinary entry on the first day. The film tells the story of a woman who has not had an easy life since she was born. The author tells the story in a way I have rarely seen. The film "Reni" radiates no pity and no voyeurism, but only courage and hope. The good story is underlined by excellent editing, excellent camera work and even a bit of Hitchcock feeling in the shower scene. A film that really grabbed me!
On Friday morning I enjoyed the city tour with the city guide Lisa Schwärzler and her cheerful stories. In the afternoon there were several good travel films. As a contrast to the films by older authors, the "Schrägen Vögel" (Weird Birds) brought variety and excellent entertainment into the programme.
On Saturday a real pearl was shown. "Vatan" is a short, clear story with a strong statement, perfect camera work, good actors and high-quality sound editing. The film makers had also chosen an atmospherically oppressive backdrop: the white gown of the snow, the "perfect world", and then the man who takes off his white protective coat and wears a uniform underneath! So many symbols! Excellent work!
With a good meal and a very well moderated award ceremony by Peter Klüver the Euro-Filmfestival came to an end. Many thanks to the organisers. It was a successful celebration, and I was happy to be to have been there.
It had been several years since I took part in a Euro-Filmfestival myself, when I got into my car to drive to Bludenz. Finally, my health had given me the opportunity to see old friends again, to watch films at a festival, to show my own film. I was full of anticipation.
The arrival in Bludenz was like coming home. I immediately remembered the beauty, the grace of this small town in its setting, even if it was more than 14 years since I spent an exciting time here. The hotel was quickly found, friendly people welcomed me and after about half an hour I was at the place where it all happened, at the "Remise", where the competition films were presented.
Gaby and Werner Scheﬀknecht welcomed me warmly. One noticed immediately that neither of them has forgotten the essential instincts of good hosts. From the start I got the definite impression that everything here would be done with great friendliness, serenity and professionalism.
I had to wait a few minutes until I was granted access to the cinema, and here came the first positive surprise of the festival. Although it was the first day of screenings, almost every seat was occupied. So where had I experienced this before? About 100 spectators applauded the quality of the films shown. From the very beginning, the necessary tension between film and audience was there, just as one would wish as a film maker.
But then in the first presentation break a degree of disillusionment arose in me. I was accustomed from my active time at the EAK, the last time in Bad Zurzach, at the Euro-Filmfestival 2009, to know all authors and visitors to the festival not only by name, but also to have enough knowledge about their cinematic past. And now when I first made contact with the festival audience in 2018, I had to admit to myself that I didn't know most of the participants. In a short time, however, the feeling of disappointment changed into a positive one. A comparison of the festival dates of 2009 with those of 2018 has shown that of the 78 authors from 2009 only 12 survived into 2018 as repeat offenders. The remaining 66 authors have fallen victim to the ravages of time.
Many of them have already died, a large number have given up filming for health reasons, and there may also be those who no longer feel at home in the EAK. But this is a natural development that all clubs, no matter what their activity, have to face. On the positive side for the EAK is that 52 new authors have joined, alongside the natural reduction, so that we have 64 authors at the 2018 festival this season. This was not always the case in the years before. We can be proud of this development. And it has now become clear to me why I could not have known so many of the festival participants present in 2018.
There are other positive aspects to this year's Euro-filmfestival. What for me was the most positive discovery in EAK member behaviour this year is explained by the following insight: there were a number of former EAK authors who came to Bludenz even though they didn't have their own competition film or didn't see their main interest in filming anymore. I would like to mention here from this large group, standing for all, Erdmuthe Becker with her husband, Rudi Sorgan with Gretel, and even from two Swiss film clubs, those from Basel and Bad Zurzach, which have not existed for years at all, 5 former members without their own film have found their way to Bludenz. This can only be explained by a homesick longing for the EAK. That must be encouraged. That is a certainty for the future of the EAK.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the final banquet; my ailing walking tools advised me against it. But from Werner Scheﬀknecht I know about how it went. 32 authors did not shy away from the path to the award ceremony. That's a proud number, but it could be improved. We will be successful. A quite significant achievement is that 100 people took part in the banquet. This is a success that must be rated very highly.
We would like to thank Gaby and Werner very much for this and not only for this, but for all their efforts, which convinced us, the visitors, again this year: A Euro-filmfestival in Bludenz is always worth a visit.
This was a slogan of the EAK many years ago. That slogan is long forgotten, but its meaning has remained. Bludenz was proof of that once again. It began on the evening of September 26th at the "Kohldampf", a rustic trendy restaurant with many travellers, among whom were the authors and their partners. People who have known each other for many years were happy to greet each other again. The warmth of the gathering continued until the last day of the festival. Sometimes, one wondered what actually was more important: the many films or the encounters with film friends. I think it balances itself out. There would be no reunion without films, but also no films without the gathering!
All this was made possible by Werner Scheﬀknecht, his wife, Gaby, and the charming and attentive team around them. Everything ran so smoothly over the festival days, which belied a whole year of intensive preparation to make this apparent simplicity. The Bludenz people deserve a triple applause!
A new factor was a professional programme booklet with portraits of all 63 authors, a "Who’s Who". The Remise as the venue had exactly the atmosphere that film lovers want for an optimal cinema experience. The quality of the films varied. How should the best differ from the less good? We were at a contest! Which was the best and which less so, could probably not be determined absolutely by the jurors. At any rate, opinions diverged.
How could it be any different? The lower level of presentations was complained about. Thumbs down! How did they get to the festival? And then they were awarded a bronze medal, some say: Lousy forum rating! The others – those with open minds – were happy about the generous recognition.
About those at the very top there was also a swirl of discussion after the prize-giving ceremony. No quality, no compelling story, no dramaturgy and then these eternally beautiful pictures that don't yet make up a good film.
It's all completely normal, it's never been any different, and it probably won't be any different in the future. We are a group of passionate filmmakers. And maybe it's the passion that sometimes makes life difficult for us. But once the passion is gone, the diversity of ideas dies. So, let's leave it as it is - and it was actually wonderful.
I didn't like all the movies to the same degree either. But there were many which excited me, moved me, inspired me and which I have seen several times and could see again and again. That's my conclusion. Maybe some people will share it with me.
If not, the encounter with so many friends nevertheless remains, no matter whether they were gold boys or "only" bronze junkies. I enjoyed it and am very, very grateful to Werner Scheﬀknecht and his team for this unforgettable event.
Tuesday 25. September 2018, 5:00 am in the middle of the night. The alarm clock snatches me far too early from a dream I didn't want to dream anyway. Today is travel day. At 6:15 I go by subway to the central station at 7 o'clock to our meeting point by the breakfast snack-bar on platform 12/13. We are 7 people, all car drivers, and we are travelling with a 2nd class group ticket on an EuroCity train, which will take us to Augsburg for a start.
The president's wife, Heike, has disguised herself to match her suitcase. She says that the case is easy to find in bright pink. Is she afraid of getting lost herself? All suitcases are equipped with carrying wheels, just EAK-compliant.
Of course, the carriage status indicator on the platform tells us that our coach, number 8, will stop at the other end of the platform. The platform is narrow and an unbelievable number of passengers is waiting for the InterCityExpress to Stuttgart. Just at the edge of the platform comes the fear of not noticing the train coming up behind us. It's always like this: we choose the coach door furthest from our reserved seats.
It is normal to block the narrow aisle with oncoming passengers who have the same problem. It takes quite a while until the heavy and unwieldy bags and trolleys have landed in the racks above the seats. But then relaxation is the order of the day. Only the loudspeaker announcements by the driver are frightening from time to time: too loud, repetitive phrases, sometimes distorted, sometimes with a loud background or sometimes too quiet. Like the normal life of an amateur film maker.
The train rolls pleasantly quietly over the tracks with many stops even in smaller cities. Georg Brand says it stops at every milk can. He doesn't anticipate getting to meet any other trains. For 3,50 Euro I get a cup of coffee, it is pleasantly hot, but nothing more. After 6 hours we reach our first transfer station in Augsburg almost on time. In a one hour break we refresh ourselves with a stay in a cardboard factory: McDonald, a lounge for third-class travellers, but without a toilet (see photo). Order time 20 minutes, meal time 10 minutes, then march off downstairs and upstairs to track 6.
The diesel railcar train to Lindau on Lake Constance as a regional express is already ready. I take over a compartment for children with eight normal seats at two tables. The train attendant brings us crayons to pass the time, paper follows later. At high speed the partition wall clatters and rattles. The winding route appears to us almost like a roller coaster ride through a beautiful landscape. Gentle hills, forests and green fields alternate with lake scenery. Half way we have the feared forced stop because of a signal failure. Is our connection to a train in Lindau in danger now? For the 45 km from Lindau to Bludenz this train takes 1h and 20min! After a total journey time of 12 hours Gaby welcomes us in Bludenz, her cordiality quickly cheers us up again, thank you very much!
The following day we meet for a city tour and come upon the following scene: at the city fountain there is a professional video team, which is shooting a scene with sound. Uwe stands next to us and tells us loudly that we, the Eurofilmers, are here in Bludenz to visit a big international festival. He pulls his mobile phone out of his pocket to take a picture as well. What did the camera team think? Is this how we make our films?
Other writers will write here about the fine organisation of the festival, the smooth running and the warm gatherings of friends.
On Sunday we go on the return journey. The night ends at 6:00 a.m. because part of the group meets at the station shortly after 7:00 a.m. Uwe and Heike stay in another hotel and join us later. Very tired, but without further incidents we arrive in very full trains at Lindau and also Augsburg. It is surprising for us that so many travellers are on the move on a Sunday morning.
In Augsburg Heino Schenck finds the toilet far, far away. I'm worried that I might miss the train to Hamburg and put my faith in the train facilities. As soon as I board our coach, I recognise my coming emergency situation: WC closed due to a fault, the red lamp also burns one coach further. Well, please see the procedure at the beginning of my report. On the way to the bistro car, 5 coaches further on, I found a door without red light to my relief. In spite of great shaking of the train I did not miss the seat bowl due to the restricted space. Later I was frightened, however, by the suction device. In the future, I will vacate the seat before I flush.
Just in time to the minute we arrived at Göttingen station. But not out of there. A friendly train attendant with a good sense of humour explained via loudspeaker: "The train driver has now started his evening job. But the new driver hasn't finished his evening yet and arrives in about 20 minutes, so we'll have to wait that long." That became 35 minutes. An expected breakdown was not apparent for our train. A 12-hour train journey to Hamburg is a new experience for a car driver. Only we don't know yet how to deal with it.
Every active filmmaker who has watched and edited his or her own scenes many times knows that at a certain point he or she is in danger of no longer seeing any shortcomings and becoming "operationally blind". Similarly, the viewer may develop a frustrating expectation with the main genres, but at the same time the question of whether the production was appropriate also automatically arises.
Even if we don't care about a comparison with literature, we use certain terms as a matter of course and give ourselves full "literary airs". But is that surprising? After all, we are regarded as "authors" without being asked – and after watching a film people often quote the rules of dramaturgy that actually refer to theatrical drama with its five acts. The film drama, on the other hand, has only three, namely (1) starting position, (2) leading to the high point and turning point (peripettia), (3) release of tension and ending.
Visually implemented, the result at competitions is a constantly testing arc of tension which, as a curve, marks the ascent and descent of the action. In principle, this tension curve also applies to the novella, which focuses particularly on realistic and generally valid themes.
“For what is a novella other than an unheard-of occurrence?" (Goethe, 1827) For us as film makers, it comes as little surprise after this definition that there should be exciting and slower moments and that it is also possible to include general, genuinely critical and contemporary themes:
The basis of the "unheard-of incident" in this film is the thalidomide scandal, which was revealed in 1961/62, but is not the focus of attention here. The sedative and sleeping pill for pregnant women was distributed from 1957 to 1961, before it became available only on prescription, and it was responsible for 5,000 to 10,000 damaged children worldwide as well as several stillbirths. In 2016, the Bundesverband Contergan Geschädigter (Federal Association of Contergan Damaged Persons) reported that about 2,400 victims still live in Germany today. Reni is one of them.
The film initially leaves the viewer in the dark with several neutral scenes, before the protagonist is introduces with her technique for controlling the car. Through this woman as first-person narrator we learn in the exposition that she is on her way to join a "dream dancer ensemble", because Reni is to play the leading role with the Göppingen theatre company in the play "Mauern aus Glas" ("Walls of Glass"), whose theme is people who are different.
And so, the play, with the rehearsals at the beginning and the performance at the end as the dramatic climax, surrounds the film and at the same time makes it clear that for the protagonist creativity has the highest significance.
It follows, that she is also active as a painter, organises exhibitions and at schools teaches how to paint with her mouth. The basically linear narrative structure is interrupted in the middle by fading into everyday life or flashbacks, with a hard cut, to parents, childhood and youth.
(The concept of the "flashback" for time design in an epic and drama is, by the way, adopted from film!)
The narrative form changes in places to interview-like statements, supplemented by comments from her boyfriend. Through these comments and an unobtrusive camera, which keeps the necessary distance, the severe handicap of the 56-year-old woman becomes clear, as she masters her everyday life without complaints or snivelling, even if sometimes with care assistance, and thereby develops almost amazing abilities, e.g. opening a beer bottle, peeling a banana, using the phone and getting dressed.
This unsentimental and yet empathetic overall presentation manages to avoid feelings of pity and at best leaves the viewer with the silent question, why, as an unafflicted person, one is always getting riled up about trifles.
The jury of "Video of Generations" recognised those things too and awarded "Reni" the main prize in the category 50+ (EUR 1,000).
Those who were full of optimism at the turn of the millennium soon had to accept that others did not want a glorious future, but a return to the Middle Ages with the goal of an ungodly religious state. Explosive attacks and assassinations were the result - and even today followers of IS cheer when as many people as possible are killed. The mass death of people and the misery of the survivors is almost taken for granted in wars by those politically responsible. And thus, not only the war in Syria with all its consequences, but also the increasing dismantling of democracy in Europe is a bitter reality for us.
"hopeless?” as an anti-war film, note the question mark, because it contains two options, uses as counterpoint the motto of the peace movement and thus ultimately the Bible, which clings to the film with Isaiah (Prologue) and Matthew (Epilogue).
"Schwerter zu Pﬂugscharen" (Swords to Ploughshares) is visually transformed by means of symbols and shows the contrast between war and peace in different forms: when the blacksmith forges the plough with white eyes as a leitmotif, the vision of peace appears in a coloured pan (watercolour technique). If he forges swords and other war equipment he is shown with red eyes, weapons appear which are used in the following, action-packed part. Anonymous black figures as figures of horror against a white background (pseudo silhouette) or a red colour gradient are used as design elements. (Those who are torn from their calm contemplation may consider that war is brutal).
The first and the second block appear as the contrast of war and peace, and are set in the Middle Ages. Accordingly, there is a third block in the course of the action to show on the one hand the endless return of irrationality, on the other hand by contrast between yesterday and today (double images) that only the killing technique (2.8. armour/tank) has improved, but not the talent for peace.
The last sequences of the real scenes included refer to the most recent present and are accordingly the climax of the final passage (in the sense of the arc of tension) before the epilogue appears. Of course, the drama is heightened by music, which is particularly important in a film without words, because in the course of the action it replaces a predictive, dramatising and linear narrative style in interplay with precise editing.
In contrast to most films that work with texts, linguistic elements cannot be inferred here, of course, because "hopeless?" is conceived as a kind of parable and the statement is compressed accordingly. For substantial animated films such a condensation is generally necessary, albeit perhaps without a conclusion by analogy, in order to save pictorial stages, work and time. On the other hand, the reduction of reality to a closed whole is one of the most difficult tasks of design.
These few examples have already led to some literary expressions, of which there is of course much more. But since no films are made with such concepts, they are only intended to make it clear that through script conception, narrative style, storyline, perspective etc. in interaction with the filmic style there is the possibility of offering the viewer more than "streamlined fiction".
But we all know that.
No - it didn't die. Amateur film, and the film makers are still alive. Anyone who was present at the 40th Euro-Filmfestival in the Remise at Bludenz, must vigorously confirm this in retrospect. 63 films from 5 countries, remarkable up to top-class films delighted the numerous visitors. The flawless presentation of the films, thought through down to the last detail, contributed to the great success of the festival. The main person responsible was Werner Scheﬀknecht, who left nothing to be desired, right down to the bag, filled with all the information and with chocolate produced in Bludenz.
A large number of very friendly helpers provided for the catering, and were able to meet the wishes of those present. The Bludenz Remise was perfect for the festival.
The fact that these Euro-Filmfestivals will continue in the coming years and remain part of the amateur filmmakers’ lives is thanks to the Swiss, Res Gnehm, from Wald ZH, who fought tenaciously for their preservation.
The culinary conclusion of the European event with the proclamation of merit on the Muttersberg was more than just the dot on the "i". Now we can look forward to what awaits us in Harsefeld near Hamburg in 2019.