Mission Film: Possible – The 2018 Award Winners
• The Grand Prize of the 38th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH goes to a comedy with the title “Excuse Me, I’m Looking for the Ping-Pong Room and My Girlfriend” by Bernhard Wenger (Film Academy Vienna).
• Altogether, 12 prizes totaling 55,000 euros were awarded.
On Saturday, November 24, the awards of the 38th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH were presented at the University of Television and Film Munich (Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München, HFF München). For a week leading up to this, the best short films by students from around the world were shown: 46 in total, from 19 countries. The festival jury, along with other juries of the award sponsors, chose the winners from among 30 feature films, 8 documentaries, 5 animated films and 3 experimental films. The award-winning films of 2018 came from 10 different countries. There were 12 different awards to compete for, and the award-winners are now altogether 55,000 euros richer.
“We have seen many films. And we have seen many, many films of outstanding quality,” said the festival jury. “We were happy with this, and we were unhappy with it. Why unhappy? Because we had far fewer awards than outstanding films.” This might come as a surprise, given that there were 12 awards, but perhaps not, given the preselection jury’s excellent choice of 46 gems. Still, decisions had to be made. Here they are:
“Excuse Me, I’m Looking for the Ping-Pong Room and My Girlfriend” by Bernhard Wenger (Film Academy Vienna) was honored with the VFF Young Talent Award for best film. This award, donated by the German film and television producers’ royalty distributor (Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten, VFF), is worth 10,000 euros. In this short film, a young couple treat themselves to a couple of days at a spa. But things aren’t going so well between the two of them. After an argument, Ida disappears and Aron no longer knows whether he is searching for her or for himself. In the bizarre world of the Alpine spa resort, a new chapter in his life begins. Since October 2014, Bernhard Wenger has been studying film directing and production at the Film Academy Vienna. As a freelance director, scriptwriter, and producer, he creates music videos, image videos, and short films that have been screened at numerous film festivals and that have already earned him more than 70 international film awards. In 2015, he was honored with the City of Salzburg’s Award for the Advancement of Art and Culture. The jury said: “We were captivated throughout this unusual journey of self-discovery of a very inactive antihero.” They specifically praised the camera work, the set design, and the screenplay, and concluded with the words: “Skillful in all segments, this collective achievement led by a talented director deserves all praise.”
The festival jury of this year’s Filmschoolfest: Asja Krsmanović, Tice Oakfield, Philip Gröning, Antonis Papadopoulos und Sinje Köhler
Along with the grand prize, the festival jury also presented the ARRI Award for Best Documentary (a non-cash benefit valued at 4,000 euros), sponsored by ARRI, a Munich company with a long tradition, to “Son of Wind” by David Noblet. Noblet attends the National Institute of Performing Arts (INSAS) in Belgium. His documentary follows little Panpan, who lives with his grandfather in Beijing while his father earns money in distant France.
The Student Camera Award (2,000 euros from Film & TV Kameramann) for best camera work goes to cinematographer Cem Demirer for the film “End of Season” (directed by Zhannat Alshanova, London Film School). The jury was won over by the way Demirer uses color, shades, and camera movement to give us an impression not only of autumn melancholy, but also of the inner conflict within his main character.
The 2,500-euro zweiB Award for Best Animation also goes to a British film: “Facing It” by Sam Gainsborough (National Film and Television School Beaconsfield). His protagonist Sean is made of clay, a material that is constantly changing and that never manages to revert to its original form, just as the main character is always subject to the influences of others.
The Luggi Waldleitner Award for Best Screenplay (3,000 euros) goes to Michael Ďuriš (Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava), who wrote the screenplay for “A Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilled Dreams” along with Sophia Boyd and Emil Smoliga, and who also directed the film. “In only 20 minutes, the writers manage to create fully rounded characters who subtly tell us about the fragility of their family life,” the jury said, adding that it was obvious to them “that the collective who worked on this screenplay understand and empathize with their characters. The truth and creativity put into this screenplay are commendable, and the love that seeps through the story is nearly tangible, which cannot give us anything but hope.”
The Panther Award for Best Production of a film at a European university, a non-cash benefit valued at 5,000 euros, goes to a Finnish film. Hannu-Pekka Peltomaa’s black comedy “Rose Garden” takes us to a bleak home for the elderly from which three unlikely friends want to escape. The jury said: “The underlying message expressed in the dreams of our heroic group transcends a stark characterization of the elderly and offers sharp criticism of a world in which criminals receive better treatment than the elderly.”
Jury president Philip Gröning gave a Special Mention by the Jury President to the film “Landing” by Wong Kam (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts), acknowledging a film that shows a lot of love for a protagonist who would likely be shunned and despised in real life. Gröning praised the daring mixture of inner visions and precise observation of the outside world.
ARTE viewers can look forward to “Schoolyard Blues”, which received the 2018 ARTE Short Film Award. In her graduation film, the young Swedish director Maria Eriksson Hecht tells the deeply moving story of two brothers in which the older brother prepares the younger one for his time at school and for life itself. The ARTE jury observed that the subject of violence among adolescents is unfortunately a very current one. Not only do the two excellent young leading actors perform their way into viewers’ hearts, the jury said, but this short bit of cinema could readily be turned into a long feature film. ARTE will buy this short film for up to 6,000 euros.
The jury that presents the 3,000-euro Wolfgang Längsfeld Award regularly goes in search of the most original film in international competition. In 2018, it found such a film in the Belgian production “Simon Cries” by Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento. The jury wrote: “This highly original short surprises viewers with a cascade of outstanding visuals, which in their poetic lightness and photographic brilliance are immediately reminiscent of the surreal cinema of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson. Yet the director and his team untether themselves from their sources of inspiration by finding their own cinematic language, to which they remain true in impressive stylistic awareness — from the funny and original beginning in a train compartment that represents a relationship to the romantic but not at all cheesy ending.”
The 1,500-euro Prix Interculturel goes to “Siren” by Zara Dwinger (Netherlands Film Academy). The jury praises the way that “Siren” subtly portrays a young person’s search for identity while giving its characters plenty of space, adding: “The film captivates us with its intense atmosphere and layered characters who are portrayed by emotionally engaging actors and actresses. The director covers a subject important to society, siding with those in search of their gender and delivering a message about accepting oneself and others.”
First prize among the Climate Clips Awards (5,000 euros) has gone to Veronika Hafner and Rina Zimmering of HFF München for their film “The Meeting”, which self-ironically sheds light on the green production efforts of the film industry. First prize of the Hofbräu Trophy (5,000 euros) for the best beer commercial was claimed by “The Beerboard”, in which three young Munich filmmakers — Julius Montgomerie Luger, Clemens Friese, and Mike Schneider — show what can be done with a collapsible picnic bench before anyone sits on it. The second- and third-place winners of each competition will receive 3,000 and 1,000 euros, respectively.
Last but not least, festivalgoers have cast their votes for the Audience Award, giving a positive rating to many of the films shown. Resonating the most with the audience was the Israeli film “Flood” by Oshri Zeituni (Minshar School for Art, Tel Aviv), a touching drama about 17-year-old Osher, who is able to take her mother to a shelter for battered women but who returns to her violent father, since her two younger brothers are still living with him. The 1,500-euro Audience Award is sponsored by Freundeskreis Filmfest München e.V.