Monday, September 13, 2010

OFF 10

The annual OFF (Odense International Film Festival) took place in August 23-28. This year the festival celebrated its 25 anniversary, as although it was founded in 1975, it was a bi-annual event during its first years, making 2010 the year in which the 25 festival took place here in Odense, Denmark

OFF is a festival concentrating on short films, animations and documentaries with contributions from Iceland in the North to Australia in the South and from South Korea in the East to the USA in the West. The festival is free and apart from the film award competition it also includes a lot of other stuff such as free concerts, open air screenings, seminars, talent camp etc. etc., but like other years I concentrated on the films.

With so many great films to chose from, it was hard to pick a favourite and I must admit that I had quite a few. One was the Australian ”Franswa Sharl” by Hannah Hilliard about twelve year old Greg who enters a beauty contest for girls in order to win his father’s respect! Another was the French ”Logorama” by Francois Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain which – through its use of logos - told a spectacular tale of Ronald McDonald’s dark side. A third one was the French ”The Little Dragon” by Bruno Collet about a Bruce Lee action figure coming to life. The Norwegian ”The Fight” by Keio and Dag Aastein deserves a mention, too. Very Norwegian and very, very funny!

This year’s winners of the festival were not among my favourites, though. The winner of the international competition was the German ”A Lost And Found Box Of Human Sensation” by Martin Wallner and Stefan Leuchtenberg - a rather muddled animation about how to cope with death. I guess it won because Ian McKellen and Joseph Fiennes had lent their voices to the animation!
The winner of the animation competition was the Norwegian ”Angry Man” by Anita Killi, a pretty pathetic film about a violent father. The audience award went to the Danish ”Out Of Love” by Birgitte Staermose, a film about children in Kosovo.
In my opinion all three films won because they were ”political correct” and that bothers me a bit. All the crazy, funny, strange and innovative stuff didn’t have a chance this year. Too bad, but at least the majority of the films were of a more interesting substance than the winners.

When that is said, it wasn’t the biggest problems with the festival this year. The biggest problems were the same as last year: too little room and too lousy technical skills.
Like last year, the festival suffered from lack of room. The screenings take place in three small cinemas - one has only room for 50 people – and when thousands of people from all over the world come to watch the screenings, more often than not they can’t find room, especially as many screenings are pre-booked by schools! Then, if you finally find a seat, the cinema equipment is outdated, and many screenings were cancelled as the cinemas weren’t able to show the films in the proper formats.
Of course you can see all of the films at the festival video bar, but again, here you have to pre-book and often there are no slots available. I guess it’s about time that OFF realises that it has grown too big for the three little cinemas and that it is time to move on to bigger venues.

One last thing: each year OFF has a special event called “The Old Theatre”. This is a must! The cinema theatre screens old silent movies to the divine piano accompaniment by composer Lars Fjeldmose and the funny insights by the ever so witty and knowledgeable film historian Ulrich Breuning. This year “The Old Theatre” screened “La Première Séance” (France, 1895), “The Lion Hunt (Denmark, 1907), “The Woman Always Pays” (Denmark, 1910) and “Battleship Potemkin” (USSR 1925), but like last year something went wrong and we had to leave the theatre without seeing the ending (and Asta Nielsen’s very sensual dance!) in “The Woman Always Pays”. That’s not good enough, OFF!!

I will of course be back at the OFF festival next year, but I do hope that they’ll have done something to get rid of their problems and not just ignore them like they have done the previous 2 years. On that (happy? no!) note, I congratulate OFF to its 25 anniversary. See you next year.


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