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.