2019

The 26th Edition was the most heartfelt in the history of the festival. Opening with its first ‘In Memoriam’ Tribute to Indie icon, Seymour Cassel – mascot and champion of the Festival since its inception. He had passed away mere months before, with the Festival Director - a dear heart family friend - by his side until the end. Seymour loved Oldenburg – the City, the people, and the spirit of the only Festival that he ever lent his name to - and openly claimed to be his favorite in the world.

The Opening Night audience of more than 1,000 at the Krongresshalle joined with the Festival Director and international guests to honor the invaluable gifts of the past - which embolden the future. A poignant night as 2012’s Oldenburg Triple Crown winner, Jan Ole Gerster, returned to present his award-winning follow-up to his debut breakthrough “Oh, Boy”: “Lara:

Generations bonded as Honorary Tribute recipient, Burkhard Driest, rocked the Red Carpet with actress Bella Thorne, who attended Oldenburg to present the world premiere of her directorial debut.

And world premieres and emerging filmmakers dominated the Official Competition, in a year of exciting discoveries. First time feature filmmakers, Adam Villaseñor and Reza Ghassemi, won not only the inaugural “First Film” Award, but also the Audience Award for “Best Film” for “In Full Bloom”. Grace Glowicki won the “Audacity Award” for her debut feature “Tito”, and “Best Short” was awarded to young French filmmaker, Kahina Le Querrec, for “Blue Hour”.

The world premiere of “The Steed“ from Mongolian director, Erdenebileg Ganbolg, inspired a 7 minute standing ovation – and won “The Spirit of Cinema” Award”.

And the spirit of cinema – and its invaluable gift- was bright in the heart of Burkhard Driest, as he addressed the audience in his candid Tribute Award speech. An unforgettable homage to all who risk. A thank you to all who champion the bold - and forgive their failings.

“This has been the greatest Honor of my career”.

Burkhard Driest passed away 5 months later.

2018

2018 marked a banner year, as the Festival celebrated its 25th Edition. From its inception as a discovery platform for the diverse voices and visions of independent filmmakers, Oldenburg’s reputation grew internationally to become ranked as one of the “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” (MovieMaker), and labelled ‘the German Sundance’ by leading international trades such as Variety & The Hollywood Reporter.

The Festival opened with “Unforgiven” by Sarik Andreasyan - the extraordinary true story of Vitaliy Kaloev, who lost his wife and children in the 2002 air disaster over the German town of Überlingen, and fought for accountability amidst corruption. Held at the Kongressghalle, the Opening Night Red Carpet welcomed international guests such as Molly Ringwald (in attendance to present her latest work), emerging filmmakers, and the 2018 Independence Honorary Award recipients.

Oscar-winning actor Keith Carradine received the 12th Star of Excellence as the Tribute Honoree. Retrospective Honoree, Bruce Robinson - long-revered by critics as ‘the neglected genius of the British film industry’ – honored Oldenburg with a rare international appearance. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker captivated audiences at the Q&As of his films, which included his 1987 directorial debut “Withnail & I” - “possibly the world’s most iconically cool film” (The Independent).

2018’s Best Short Film winner, “Fauve” by Jeremy Compté, went on to become nominated for the 2019 Academy Awards. And following its German Premiere in Oldenburg, Lukas Dhont’s debut feature ‘Girl’ was selected as the Official Foreign Oscar Entry from Belgium, and USA’s “First Reformed” earned Paul Schrader his first Oscar nomination.

From the Opening Night film to Closing Night Awards, Russian films book-ended a remarkable year, as “Temporary Difficulties” by Mikhail Raskhodnikov won the Audience Award for ‘Best Film’. And for the first time, both Seymour Cassel Awards for ‘Outstanding Performance’ were awarded to females - Gabriela Ramos (the teen lead of Cuba’s first psychological horror, “Is That You?” by Rudy Riverón Sánchez), and Victoria Carmen Sonne (star of the Indie breakout debut by Isabella Eklöf - “Holiday”).

An Exhibition of award-winning graphic artist Phillip Dorrë was a centerpiece. Featuring annual Oldenburg Cannes Ad campaigns and Artwork for the Festival, it included his most recent Poster Art for the 25th Anniversary Trailer, starring Sean Connery and the Festival Director in “From Oldenburg With Love”.

2017

The 24th Edition embraced the revolutionary spirit of the 2017 Honorary Retrospective recipient, maverick Hollywood producer Edward R. Pressman, in attendance with family members and collaborators, wife Annie and son Sam. As was Honorary Tribute recipient, »La Bamba« heartthrob Lou Diamond Phillips, joined by his wife Yvonne and young daughter Indigo.

The family affair resonated at the Opening Night Gala at the EWE Arena where the debut feature of Kubilay Sarikaya and Sedat Kirtan, »Familiye« had its world premiere and won the hearts of the audience and went on to win the 2017 German Independence Award for Best Film. It's co-producer, German superstar Moritz Bleibtreu, was also in attendance to present the film and was honored with the eleventh Star of Excellence on the OLB Walk of Fame.

A special night at the Mid Gala Tribute Awards at the grand State Theatre. Presented with surprise tribute reels, film friends such as Werner Herzog, Abel Ferrara, Oliver Stone, Nicolas Cage, and Jeremy Irons reached out from around the world to send Edward R Pressman their eternal gratitude. And following Lou Diamond Phillip's Award, he presented his next film, the world premiere of Santiago Rizzo's autobiographical debut »Quest« – for which its young star, Gregory Kasyan, won the Best Actor Seymour Cassel Award for his breakout performance.

Indie darling & Alum, Lindsay Burge, returned to Oldenburg with »Thirst Street« for which she won the Best Actress Seymour Cassel Award. And Best Short went to »Sur Le Fil« by Luxembourg filmmaking duo Thierry Bessling and Löic Tanson, with a Special Jury Prize awarded to Phillip Andoine's audacious one minute Short film »Vand«.

2016

Oldenburg was wild at heart as icon and global superstar, Nicolas Cage, arrived as the 2016 Tribute Honoree and recipient of the tenth Star of Excellence on the OLB Walk of Fame. Fellow Tribute Honoree, lauded actress Amanda Plummer, also delighted audiences as the offspring of cinema royalty thrilled the crowded theatres. And returning to Oldenburg where he presented his debut feature in 2002, France's child of Nouvelle Vague, Christophe Honoré, was honored with the 2016 Honorary Retrospective Award.

In keeping with its »heart for young filmmakers« (as described by Agnieszka Holland), the world premiere of Benjamin Teske's debut feature »Strawberry Bubblegums« opened the Festival. The Opening Night Gala film touched the hearts of more than a thousand audience members at the EWE Arena, and earned the lead actor, Andre Hennicke, the Seymour Cassel Award for Best Actor. And young French actress, Noémie Merlant, who attended Oldenburg in 2011 to present her first starring role in a feature film, returned with »Twisting Fate« – for which she won the Seymour Cassel Award for Best Actress.

Debut films from Turkey dominated the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, as Emre Konuk's »The Apprentice« won the German Independence Award for Best Film and Ruken Tekes' »The Circle« won for Best Short.

2015

A thrilling start to the 22nd Edition as Elisabeth Scharang's »Jack« screened for the Opening Gala audience of 1,200 at the EWE Area. On the red carpet, international filmmakers included the 2015 Retrospective Honoree, American Rock'n'Roll rebel filmmaker George Armitage, who attended the Festival with his entire family. The Honorary Tribute was dedicated to the critically acclaimed Golden Globe winner Joanna Cassidy, who received the ninth Star of Excellence on the OLB Walk of Fame.

For the 2nd year, Oldenburg was again honored to host to the esteemed Jury of the European Film Academy who attended to deliberate and announce the five finalists for the European Discovery Award. And in the true spirit of discovery, Tom Sommerlatte - the winner of the 2015 German Independence Award for his debut feature »Summer Downstairs« – was also announced by the EFA Jury as a Best Newcomer finalist for The European Discovery Award at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony.

Martijn De Jong's »Vrij« won Best Short Film in a category that included works from 2nd and 3rd generation filmmakers, Matthew Modine's son, Boman, and Robert Redford's grandson, Dylan. Sarah Silverman won the Seymour Cassel Award for her Outstanding Performance by an actress in »I Smile Back«, and Nikola Rakocevic won best actor for his breakout role in Dusan Milic's »Travelator«.

2014

For the 21st Edition, the Opening Ceremony was held at the EWE Arena. With an audience of over 1,000 attendees, the world premiere of Christian Frosch's »Rough Road Ahead« marked the start to a successful festival.

The 2014 Honorary Retrospective was dedicated to Australian auteur and provocateur, Philippe Mora – who charmed Oldenburg audiences, as did 80s Hollywood icon, Sean Young, who received the eighth Star of Excellence on the OLB Walk of Fame.

Oldenburg was honored to host to the esteemed Jury of the European Film Academy who attended to deliberate and announce the five finalists for the European Discovery Award. EFA Chairwoman, Oscar-winner Agnieszka Holland, announced that Oldenburg was chosen as it's »known for its heart for young filmmakers and for an inspiring and innovative environment.«

And discoveries ruled as the debut by Czech director Michal Samir »Hany« won the German Independence Award for Best Film and Raphaël Neal received a Special Jury Award for his debut »Fever«. Victoria Schulz – the star of the Opening Night film »Rough Road Ahead« – won the Seymour Cassel Award for her outstanding performance as the Festival came full circle.

2013

The Festival celebrated its 20th Anniversary by reflecting upon its past while embracing its future. An Exhibition titled »People & Places« featuring portraits of past guests and honorees taken in unique Oldenburg locales was accompanied by a Collector's Edition photo book of the same name, chronicling years of Festival highlights.

Indie icon, Seymour Cassel, was honored with the Official Seal Of the City for his ongoing support of the City and the Festival over 20 years – during which its international reputation rose to become considered »The European Sundance«.

Female filmmakers were a dominant force, as Lola Randl's »Invention Of Love« opened the Festival, with its star Sunnyi Melles in attendance at Oldenburg's grand State Theatre. The 2013 Retrospective was dedicated to Iranian filmmaker-in-exile, Mania Akbari, marking the first time her revolutionary works had ever been screened in Germany. And Veronica Ferres received the Star of Excellence on the OLB Walk of Fame.

Exciting discoveries were again celebrated as David Perrault's debut »Our Heroes Died Tonight« won Best Film. The International Jury, headed by 2013s Tribute honoree, Robert ›Bobcat‹ Goldthwait, awarded Best German Film to Tom Lass' »Kaptn Oscar«, for which Martina Schöne-Radunski won the The Seymour Cassel Award for Outstanding Performance.

2012

For the second year running the opening was held at the EWE Arena. The year's opening film »Oh Boy« was a true highlight, as it went on to win all of the German Independence Awards at the 19th Oldenburg International Film Festival. But the success was just starting here. Jan Ole Gerster's gem was invited to many more festivals and won several German Film Awards in 2013.

Head of the festival's first all female jury was a special guest: Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino who brought some true star power to Oldenburg and received her own star on the OLB Walk of Fame. For the first time the retrospective honored Oscar-nominated cinematographer and director Phedon Papamichael. One of the festival's highlights was Butch Walker's prison concert. Walker attended the festival for the screening of a documentary about his life and work, and played a rock show at the festival's JVA screening location.

2011

The festival turned 18. A record-breaking 1,300 audience members attended the Opening Night at the EWE Arena. The star on the OLB Walk of Fame went to Matthew Modine. Guests of honor were Ted Kotcheff and Roger Fritz and fittingly for an 18th birthday the parties were legendary and the atmosphere was grand.

»Dr. Ketel« by Linus de Paoli received the jury award »German Independence Award – Best German Film«. The »German Independence Award – Audience Award« went to »Happy New Year« by K. Lorrel Manning starring Michael Cuomo. Another highlight was the US-Spanish co-production »The Way« by Emilio Estevez with stars Deborah Kara Unger and Yorick van Wageningen in attendance. »The Way« becomes the first festival film to be screened in Oldenburg's Lamberti-Church. The audience was moved and showed respect for the daring vision with standing ovations after the film.

2010

The year of the frog: The municipal council slashed its support for the festival. Festival organizers and the incredible staff give everything and a bit more to make 2010 as good as previous years despite the cuts. On the first night of the festival it is apparent that they were successful. A stunning array of guests, an enthusiastic audience and an incredibly relaxed, creative and inspiring atmosphere the 2010 edition goes down as one of the best festival years so far.

Jury president Deborah Kara Unger enchants Oldenburg with her glamour and receives a star on the OLB Walk of Fame. Guests of honor Timothy Bottoms and Radley Metzger, charming gentlemen and entertaining stars, give the festival a touch of New Hollywood. The German Independence Awards go to Paul Gordon and Philip Koch. Once again the Oldenburg audience and the festival jury prove that they have a talent for spotting great indie art.

2009

A year of reflection. After the new features and huge names of the past years the festival turned its focus once again to the main feature: The films.

Always question for the nature of independent films, exploring the whole scope of the indie scene the festival's lineup included gems like: »Life is Hot in Cracktown«, »Snow White« and Russian Red, and the the award-winning »Distanz«.

It is good to see the festival not resting on its laurels but instead raising the bar for quality and originality year after year.

2008

The stars never shined brighter for the 15th Edition of the Oldenburg International Film Festival.

Seymour Cassel became immortalized on the Walk of Fame, LeVar Burton, Marius Müller-Westernhagen, Michael Wadleigh, James Toback and Michel Houellebecq made for several highlights each day.

The festival in Oldenburg has achieved star-power and draw that few other indie-fests can claim and at the same time it retained its natural cool and laid-back atmosphere. The big winner of 2008 was Emily Atef, whose »The Stranger in Me« won all three awards.

2007

The year of revolutions. Never before have there been more new features in the history of the festival.

Oldenburg prison is turned into an official festival cinema, a short film award is introduced, for two years the festival will host the Otto-Sprenger-Award and guest of honor Stacy Keach opens the OLB Walk of Fame where the Star of Excellence will be revealed every year ever since.

The new developments help define the festival's profile and heighten awareness for its established qualities.

2006

Just like independent cinema redefines itself continuously and creates a counterculture to usual film conventions the 2006 festival explored new ways, tested undiscovered terrain, and created pluralities.

The selection ranged from Richard Linklater's eagerly awaited Philip K. Dick adaptation »A Scanner Darkly« to the splendid Closing Night with the German premiere of Darren Aronofsky's »The Fountain«. The festival was thus able to showcase once again what it means to be an independent festival. Jerry Schatzberg received the honors of the retrospective as one the great directors of the New Hollywood, who is still lauded today in France for his remarkable European style.

Another aficionado of French cinema is Peter Fleischmann whom the tribute was dedicated to and who is one of the more enigmatic directors of the New German Cinema. The German Independence Awards went to Scott Dacko for »The Insurgents« and Birgit Grosskopf for her debut »Prinzessin«.

2005

No standstill despite prosperity. In 2005 the festival could have taken a relaxed attitude and reaped the rewards of years of hard work. Instead they chose to innovate once again, focussing parts of the programme on documentary and digital filmmaking. The city of Oldenburg returned to the screen once more, as producer/director Christopher Coppola used the festival to tour Oldenburg's surroundings for an episode of his »Biker Chef«-series.

Luke Wilson and Ken Russel brought their star power to Oldenburg and were duly noticed by the media. The awards went out to Catharina Deus for »Die Boxerin« and Marcos Siega's »Pretty Persuasion«. In 2005 neither jury nor audience had it easy to decide such was the quality of that year's film crop.

2004

The next big step. In its 11th year the festival establishes its presence among the elite of German film festivals. The German Independence Award – Best German Film is presented by an international jury for the first time. Winner is Andreas Struck with »Sugar Orange«.

Jury president and guest of honour Tim Blake Nelson presented his »The Grey Zone« at a gala event in the State Theatre. The audience award went to the Greek production »Hardcore« by Dennis Illiadis. Another highlight was the retrospective, which featured the work of Andrzej Zulawski, whose filmmaking genius receives too little praise these days.

2003

The 10th anniversary of the festival: It was a real celebration of a decade of independent spirit in Oldenburg. More films, stars, and parties than ever and with Larry Clark a guest, who electrifies the masses. »Ken Park« is one of most anticipated and most overrun films in festival history.

Filmfest Oldenburg continues the tradition to produce its own against-the-grain projects: 2003 it's the Oldenburg-docu »Let It Roll«. The success at the festival is only the first stop on a tour that includes locations such as Berlin and Cannes. It was only fitting for an anniversary event to have truly great cinema: the guest of honor was Philippe de Broca and the epic, yet surreal »Northfolk« won the German Independence Award.

2002

99euro-films make a comeback? This time their international. The Oldenburg film festival showcases its creative potential. The European Project brings together many long-time friends of the festival and in 2003 it is even invited to the prestigious Locarno festival.

With the opening film the festival returns to its roots: »Mein Bruder der Vampir« is directed by Oldenburg-born Sven Taddicken. »Anarcadium« by Scott Thomas wins the German Independence Award, while the retrospective to Bernard Rose honors once again one of the great individualists of cinema history.

2001

This festival saw the world premiere of a truly unique film experience: 99euro-films debuted at the festival and started their success story from Oldenburg. »Anam« went on to become the first German film to win the German Independence Award.

Ralf Huetner's »Mondscheintarif« opens the festival and Jasmin Tabatabai attends the premiere together with the director. Jim McBride and Ben Gazzara are honorary tribute and retrospective guests. A year before her breakout role in »Bend It Like Beckham« launched her to international stardom, the 18-year-old Keira Knightley came to Oldenburg to present the German Premiere of 2001s »The Hole«.

2000

Benno Fürmann and Christiane Paul open the festival with »Freunde«. The Closing Night sees the German premiere of »Titus«. In between there was a remarkable retrospective for one of Hollywoods greatest: William Wellman.

The tribute was done for Stacy Cochran and her innovative and uncompromising filmmaking. The highlight of the festival is the German movie »Kanak Attack« which draws a huge audience, and Bela B. Felsenheimer returns just for an hour, as he claims, but he stays for three full days of parties and becomes a close friend of the festival.

1999

A year full of surprises: Porn-queen Stacy Valentine turns some heads and almost creates a scandal as guest of the »Closeup on Love«-special. Asia Argento comes with a movie and stays for a gig with her band. Ärzte drummer Bela B. Felsenheimer came, saw, stayed and keeps returning ever since.

John Gallagher and Matthew Modine are welcomed back in Oldenburg and the German Independence Award went to one of the most beautiful films of festival history: »The Invisibles«. With the retrospective one of Europe's great but forgotten directors is rediscovered: the magnificent Harry Kuemel is the guest of honor at the festival.

1998

Never before had there been more guests and more exciting films at the festival. It was the premiere of the German Independence Award and when Till Schweiger arrived, the roads to the cinema had to be closed down. Roberto Faenza, Seymour Cassell and Saskia Reeves attended the festival.

The Closing Night had an Oscar-winner with »Gods and Monsters« and Hans Christian Schmid presented the fascinating »23«. Steve Soderberg's »Out of Sight« celebrated its German Premiere in Oldenburg and Jon Jacobs enchanted the audience with his sexy southern-fairytale »Lucindas Spell«. After five years the festival had made its way into the premiere league of German film festivals.

1997

Friendships start to grow: John Gallagher is in Oldenburg with »The Deli« and often returns as a director, advisor and friend. Peter Koper attends the festival for the second time, and it won't be his last visit. He is one of the guests at the symposium »Independent knows no compromise«.

RP Kahl stars in Oskar Roehler's »Sylvester Countdown« – one year down the road he directs the opening film, also the festival trailer and finally supervises the 99euro-films. »Die Musterknaben« can be seen in Oldenburg – the sequels will create a tradition. But the true highlight of the year was the Tim Hunter retrospective together with a tribute to Iciar Bollain.

1996

The stars grow bigger and the festival becomes more prolific. The attendance of Iris Berben adds a touch of glamour to the festival. James B. Harris and Matthew Modine are guests of honor at the festival and suddenly the film world takes notice of the small town on the Hunte-river.

The films of 1996 tell a story of their own, as the list of highlights is longer than ever before: »Kids Return«, »Habit«, »Die Mutter des Killers« and »Omaha (The Movie)« are the pinnacle of a masterfully programmed festival, which is just carving its niche in the international festival scene.

1995

»The second year is always the hardest« or so the saying goes. But Frank Oz comes to Oldenburg and Nicolette Krebitz and Jürgen Vogel represent young German cinema, and suddenly optimism turns into euphoria. This spirit helped guide the festival into the realm of the first-tier festivals. The German premieres of »Headless Body in Topless Bar« and »Dolores« were the magnificent film highlights of the second year.

1994

Year One. The future looks bright and promising. The festival starts full of energy with the conviction that everything is possible and succeeds to become a totally unique affair in Germany. Guest stars include Alex Cox and Maria Schrader. »Romeo is Bleeding« and »Crooklyn« are the film highlights of the year. The sky is the limit for the young festival organizers, who made the festival a success through hard work and determination.