I visited a dear friend earlier this year for a surprise celebration of her birthday. We hadn’t seen each other for ages and had a wonderful evening organized by her husband. Well aware of my fondness for the international film festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, she found the best way to convey the essence of it to her husband: “The film festival to Irina is what my birthday is to me”. Just like my friend, I look forward to this special event, meet preparations, talk about it often (and a lot!), enjoy, and share it.
My friends have heard me speak about the festival many months in advance, seen me check every day if the festival program is available (and complain if it still isn’t), been there when I plan my schedule so diligently that I get to see the maximum number of films possible, experienced my joy when I buy the tickets on the first day of the advance sale, and my excitement during the festival. It feels like celebration indeed! Celebrating storytelling, newcomer filmmakers, and an audience eager to be mesmerized in cinema debuts… And this year even the motto of the festival – Celebrating films – supports how I feel about it every year.
Last year it was a forum of very well told film stories – stories that moved me, made me think, discuss, wonder, question (you can find some of my impressions here and here and here). I am sure it will be no different this year. The human and authentic aspect of the selected films is what makes them simple and extraordinary at the same time. So simple and extraordinary that it often feels like they were created for one person only. When the light goes off and a film begins in the festival hall, I sit with a small notebook and a pencil on my lap that help me capture some impressions, the other film-goers seem to disappear and the magic of cinema starts…
I’ll share my impressions from long hours of film watching which are in store for me in the next two weeks and invite you to join me in a journey to unknown, exciting cinema destinations. Two days and counting…!