The 28th edition of the Oldenburg International Film Festival was marked by premieres - and that doesn't just mean the extraordinary number of world premieres of films from around the globe that could be seen this year in Oldenburg's cinemas and in the virtual Filmfest cinemas. The organisation of an international film festival in pandemic times under the motto "Fast and Furious - Back to Culture" was in itself, with all its challenges, a successful start to the film festivals. We are celebrating the success of having once again made it possible for the international cultural scene to come together. To do this in compliance with all hygiene and safety regulations and in the presence of international filmmakers was something special on the way back to normality.

As one of the first film festivals worldwide, we were able to hold the opening gala on Wednesday 15 September in the Congress Hall with 100% occupancy. Alongside the director, the leading actress and new discovery in German film Luise Großmann as well as the cinematographer Maher Maleh strolled across the red carpet on the occasion of the world premiere of Torsten Rüther's directorial debut, "Leberhaken". Among them were also filmmakers Scott Monahan and Dakota Loesch ("Anchorage"), director Dominik Krawiecki and actress Patrycja Płanik ("Faggots").


Back to Culture in Cinemas

In order to be able to host the opening gala and the entire festival as safely as possible, the 3G regulation was crucial for all team members and all guests. Back to Culture in Cinemas sent a clear message about the unifying power of the art of film and especially about cinema as a cultural venue. Numerous filmmakers found their way to Oldenburg and thus made cultural exchange possible.

Ambitious and risk-taking independent films and many debut works made the Oldenburg International Film Festival, hailed as the "European Sundance", once again a creative and lively place for all filmmakers present. Many world premieres, international and European premieres made the festival a centre for young, up-and-coming cinema for five days. Among them were the neo-western with Ron Perlman "The Last Victim" by Naveen A. Chathapuram and the French comedy-drama by Raffaël Enaul "A Glimpse of Happiness".


Highlights and tributes

On the occasion of the world premiere of Paul Spurrier's film "The Maestro", the Thai youth symphony orchestra, Siam Sinfonietta, together with conductor and leading actor Somtow Sucharitkul, gave a classical concert the Closing Night Gala. Afterwards, the German Independence Awards - Best Film and Best Short Film - were presented, providing a glamorous setting for the screening of the closing film "The Maestro".

At the Mid-Fest Gala, the Tribute and Retrospective Awards were presented. With Ovidio G. Assonitis, who was the subject of this year's retrospective, the film festival succeeded in bringing a personality of European cinema to the Hunte city who is as charming as he is fascinating. The tribute was given to the only female director from Laos Mattie Do, whose three genre films are already being celebrated as a visionary and exciting new energy in cinema.

With a total of over 7.000 spectators and an almost good 90% occupancy rate with reduced seating capacities in the festival cinemas, Casablanca, Cine k, Exerzierhalle and the City Museum, the Congress Hall and the Oldenburg State Theatre, the audience also cast a strong vote for a return to normality in culture. A diverse and artistically vibrant festival came to a festive end on Sunday with the Closing Night Gala, the closing film "The Maestro" by Paul Spurrier and the announcement of the award winners.

The short film jury, consisting of screenwriter and lecturer David Martin, director of the Horst Janssen Museum Jutta Moster Hoos and curator Renee Warren, awarded the German Independence Award for Best Short Film to "Wall#4" by Lucas Camps.

An honourable mention for the film "American Morning" by Robbie Bryan for his film that is as courageous as it gets under the skin, courageously confronting the issue of gun ownership in the USA.

The Seymour Cassel Award for Best Actor went this year to Dakota Loesch for the lead role in "Anchorage" and to Eaindra Kyaw Zin in "What happened to the Wolf?

The Advisory Board also honoured the film "Faggots" by Dominik Krawiecki and Patrycja Płanik with the Audacity Award.

The Spirit of Cinema Award was presented to the film "The Maestro" by Paul Spurrier for its power to use images, music and a lovingly tongue-in-cheek story to tell a utopia to overcome the pandemic.

The main prize, the German Independence Award for the best film in the independent series of the film festival, went to "Anchorage" by Scott Monahan and Dakota Loesch.


In addition to Ovidio G. Assonitis (Retrospective) and Mattie Do (Tribute), guests at this year's festival included Deborah Kara Unger, RP Kahl ("When Susan Sontag sat in the audience"), Patrycja Planik ("Faggots"), Michael Mailer ("Swing") and Buddy Giovinazzo.


With Hardy Daniel Krüger in the leading role, a homage to a science fiction classic of the turn of the millennium was realised. The dystophy »Matrix« created by the Wachowski siblings was the model for this year's trailer, which was created with the support of Iyuno Germany and TrickWilk. With camera and editing, Matthias Sachal from Oldenburg and his 8ithyfour Cinematography gave the trailer wonderful cinematic images and even more local colour.

Find your wild from Sept 15-19, 2021