Competition – comparing performance among us filmmakers - the evaluation of the films, their impact and in the happiest case their award – for almost 40 years, that has been one of the pillars of our association. In the regions, we see each other once a year at the Forum, then if there is success we meet a second time for Euro-Film Festival at the national and international levels. And then what?
Wolfgang Thomas, Director of Forum North, has also asked this question, and dared to try an experiment, whose outcome was quite uncertain. How would it be, he wondered, if we take authors whose films have not be shown at any forum, at any festival and perhaps never seen in public, and meet without the stress of competition to show unpublished treasures to fellow film friends and others who are interested?
Is there any need? Are films, which no jury has given strict assessment and praise, at all presentable? And where should it, if you please, take place at all? Probably not in the living room of an amateur film maker!
The Hamburg region now has three small private theatres, each with its own special atmosphere and modern technology. For more than 30 years and well-known far beyond the borders of Northern Germany there has been Olga and Gerhard Plambeck’s Clubkino in Wistedt in Nordheide. In a converted goat barn, 12 surplus orange aircraft seats from the happy days of Lufthansa’s propeller airplanes are installed. The big screen fills the entire width of the small theatre, the sound is excellent and the cinema experience perfect. Before the screenings there are coffee and cake and after the shows beer is also served, while opinions are exchanged on what has been seen. Hardly any TV station has failed to include in their local programmes, "the smallest cinema in Germany." But until now it was mostly professional films that were shown.
Times have changed. The Wisted Club-Kino is no longer an isolated case. Gerd Jagow also has such a small cinema, with rustic chairs, tables and benches and a separate vestibule.
The third venue has been added: Gebra-Kino belonging to George Brand. It has more than 20 seats, modern equipment, black walls decorated with burgundy stripes and a screen that lets any viewer escape into the magic spell of the images. Cinema at its best!
For a year now Wolfgang Thomas has organised these so-called “Author meeting” for a change. And the film makers come. What you see is not rubbish from the dustbin and unusable material, but often little cinematic gems, long cinematic tales of travel, often giving strong and fully watchable insights. And why have these films never been seen in a competition? Some are too long, some authors do not want to expose themselves to the criticism of a jury and still others might sometimes not trust their own works. The reasons are many.
The small venues of amateur film makers are surprisingly well stocked, with films of varying lengths, of varying quality and of different ages. The “un-shown works” often surprise you with their subject matter, their nostalgic charm and also with unexpected quality.
The respective author has the opportunity to introduce his film, but he does not have to. If he wishes, the film will be discussed, and that way there is no verbal injury. The authors come from near and far, from the circles of Eurofilmers and BDFA, there are solo film makers, beginners and advanced users, and of course sometimes there is a request to join the EAK from an enchanted participant. At an Author Meeting in July this year five visitors spontaneously joined the EAK. If a selected film maker cannot be there in person, then he can get a written record of the film review from Wolfgang Thomas.
Scepticism about the idea of such an Author’s Meeting has given way to the joy of wide acceptance and success. We film makers see each other more often. We can show even our old films before an interested audience, and the appreciation of our productions is immediate, very personal, emotional and not always of merciless objectivity as is required from a good jury. Wolfgang Thomas has certainly no copyright on his idea.
Imitation is desirable!