36th International Short Film Festival Berlin 2020
11 November - 13 December 2020

Report: 36th interfilm and 13th KUKI Film Festivals

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

The longest and most extraordinary festival in interfilm's and KUKI's history was a tremendous success: Over 18,800 digital cinema seats were filled! This gets close to a regular edition (in numbers at least) and we therefore owe a huge thank you to all our viewers.

None of this would have been possible without a reliable digital platform. Special thanks go to our partner Sooner, without whom we would not have managed such a smoothly-run digital festival, especially since the "smart lockdown" was announced just 10 days before the festival was due to begin. We had to reshuffle the festival in the blink of an eye, reallocating budgets, tasking departments with entirely new roles and  cancelling all travel arrangements.

Such a radical restructuring of the festival is of course only possible if one's supporting institutions continue to stand by them. Therefore our heartfelt thanks also go to all our festival partners, funders and sponsors, first and foremost Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, Creative Europe MEDIA and the German Federal Foreign Office!

The interfilm & KUKI team mastered this challenging year and the peculiar circumstances with flying colours. With glittery outfits, disco lights and confetti, we celebrated the start and end of the respective digital editions separately and yet (virtually) together.

The experiences we were able to make in the digital realm will surely serve us well in the near and distant future.  But even if the digital floodgates have now been cranked open, the bottom line remains the same: interfilm and KUKI are film festivals.

Film festivals belong in the cinema, to be shared and experienced by crowds of people interacting and exchanging. Therefore, our priority is and will continue to be focussed on striving for on-site experiences.

Incidentally, to support the cinemas, 20 percent of the proceeds from Sooner and interfilm will go to the cinemas originally scheduled for the festival.

But the most important thing about a film festival are the films themselves. Here, too, we must express our deepest gratitude to the filmmakers who made it possible for us to present their films in a digital context, who made themselves available for digital Q&As, who participated in our digital networking events, and who encouraged us in these uncertain times.

interfilm awarded prizes worth more than a total of 40,000 euros. We are particularly delighted by the strong resonance that many of the award-winner's received in their respective countries, for example in the Philippines ("Tarang") and in Hong Kong ("1 a.m. in Hong Kong") - click here for the laudations.

INTERFORUM masterclasses and panels are still online, as are the ceremonies for the opening and awards events and the Decolonial x interfilm Short Film Walk through Berlin's history of European and German colonialism.

The 13th KUKI Film Festival for Children and Youth also managed to produce a stupendous first-ever digital edition and streamed its 12 short film programs to more than 100 schools! KUKI transformed classrooms into festival cinemas for around 5,000 children and teenagers in schools and daycare centers all over Berlin and Brandenburg. All programs featured lively film talks and interviews with filmmakers, heaps of confetti, and the beating of a corona-pinata - making the KUKI Festival spirit really come alive.

And while we are super pleased with our first digital festival edition, we really can't wait to (hopefully) hold a physical festival once again next year at our cool cinemas with lively audiences, crazy parties, too many drinks and wonderfully irritating & inspiring talks.

interfilm Festival 2020

Conquest of the Real

“Those who renounce storytelling,” writes Odo Marquard in his “Skepsis in der Moderne” (“Scepticism in the Modern Era”), “renounce their own past”, thus also renouncing a future that could feed on these stories. For a long time, future-oriented action exhausted itself in short-sighted stories of growth and competition. Beyond the actionism of day-to-day politics, animated by the ever-faster beating cadence of the market, politics and society have lost all creative drive. Stories that flirt with the utopian are primarily told to us by transnational corporations. However, the future here is only the vision of a technology that will be used in the time to come: everything will continue exactly as it is, only supposedly it will be better. The result has been and remains a radical loss of future. Finally with the consequences of climate change and the Covid pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that even this last great collective narrative of endless growth is imploding.

People need stories though! Their longing for them is reflected in the fixation on TV series that revolve exclusively around plot and cliffhanger endings. In cinema and art it is morality that has occupied this spot for a while now; it is intended to deliver history/story in a dual sense – namely the right one. On the opposite side, we find the stories of the conspiracy ideologues, who seek to create unambiguous pictures of the world and conjure up a unity that always presupposes a clear enemy, just as “völkisch” modes of thinking do.

The world is in the midst of a profound transformation, one inconceivable without images. It is images that make it possible in the first place to imagine that everything could also be different. That means that we need new images, metaphorical and poetic ones, images that leave familiar territory behind, see the world with different eyes and make utopias possible again. The question is only who will create these images. Cinema began as open experimentation with a totally new medium in a short format. From the 1960s on at the latest, the short film was ultimately liberated from the aesthetic and thematic conventions of the economy that increasingly afflict the feature film. As such, using artistic means, the short film is capable of exploring society and, thus, of conquering reality.

The necessary restrictions from the catalogue of measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have hit us hard too as festival organisers. Still, the situation is also an opportunity for us to turn our comfortable knit sweaters inside out, to rethink and reconquer the world. EJECT - The Long Night of Weird Shorts will take place in an open-air version this year. In Lebanon, it is the political crises that cause people to wander the streets with a camera in their hands, which is why a special program is dedicated to the metropolis of Beirut this year. The Focus programmes place a spotlight on the Polish film scene, which was mired in deep crisis at the beginning of the 21st century, before experiencing a cinematic rebirth over the past 15 years. Our Postcolonial Walk will connect films treating Europe’s colonial past to locations in Berlin. And the chance to show films online doesn’t have to be a disadvantage either, indeed it represents an opportunity to reach different audiences in a different place in a different way, to get them excited about cinema and enable them to dive into new worlds (and new images).
So, in this spirit, we bid you a warm welcome to interfilm – 36th International Short Film Festival Berlin!

The interfilm Team

Update: interfilm 2019

Record attendance and high spirits! interfilm is happy to have enthused 23,000 visitors for the 450 short films in the 60 programmes of the 35th festival edition. More than 1000 interested people saw the six programmes dedicated to "30 Years of Peaceful Revolution - Fall of the Wall" and KUKI delighted 9000 children and teenagers. We were particularly pleased that the big events in the grand hall of the Volksbühne - including Opening Night, "Eject" and "Sound & Vision" - were sold out, as were "Virtual Reality" in the dome of the Zeiss Planetarium, the Award Ceremony and many other programs in smaller and larger cinemas.

The atmosphere was just incredible, with 500 accredited guests who ensured a productive exchange and international flair. Throughout the six festival days visitors were able to experience the fruits of a successfully organised festival. And Festival means celebration! The films were celebrated and the filmmakers present were the stars of the week, inspired by one another and captivated by the festival crew. Festival sponsors had fun, Berliners were able to immerse themselves in new realities within the wonderful worlds of short film and the cinemas located in several Berlin districts also enjoyed the extraordinary kick of the short.

What a great team! During the weeks of preparation for the festival, when everyone is at the limit of their resources, it became clear what "festival" actually means: to work together. And then, when it all starts, everything becomes a rush: films, filmmakers, conversations, inspirations, community and merciless organisational pressure merge into an intense experience alongside the filmmakers and audiences. Suddenly everything becomes one. While we can now emphasize that the team behind interfilm in 2019 was once again a dream team, one nevertheless needs to ask whether this is also appreciated externally, beyond the mediocre salaries or even voluntary work. The answer - while nodding to all the many smaller festivals - is a resounding yes and no. A big thank you to our sponsors! But there is a gap between logo-phobia, press ignorance and funding scepticism between the punching of the everyday work-clock at 6pm and the kind of event preparation that goes way beyond that hour. And only those who really attended the event will be able to confirm that it was brilliant. Theoretically, festivals are a luxury in the appendix of neocapitalism, but in practical terms, they comprise exactly the kind of pulsating life that is so often talked about when the so-called reality, with all its richness of diversity is under threat, as it is now.

There were parties too. They were wild and beautiful. And we are already looking forward to the next festival edition. Especially since we know that we have the opportunity to use all the short films to bridge the gap between social neurotic developments and humanity. - Be part of the movement!

About interfilm and the Festival

interfilm Berlin organises the Berlin International Short Film Festival as well as interfilm Short Film Distribution. Established in 1982, the festival has years of experience and a growing number of contacts in the international cultural and short film sectors. This has enabled interfilm to forge ongoing links with several significant institutions and hold frequent, regular events, testifying to the festival’s success at bringing the short film format to an ever wider audience.

interfilm’s goal is to search out skilled and creative filmmakers and bring their work together -  presenting them in an international, culturally political framework in order to best facilitate the exchange of imaginative ideas. interfilm offers a wide variety of short live-action, animation and documentaries to enthusiastic audiences who value the short film format in its own right.  

The International Short Film Festival

interfilm has established itself as one of the most important short film festivals in Europe. It is the second oldest German short film festival (after Oberhausen), and is recognised as the second most significant and oldest international film festival in Berlin after the Berlinale. More than 7.000 films with a maximum running time of 20 minutes are submitted each year. Of those, approximately 500 films are selected and organised into different thematic programs. These include; international, German, animation, documentary and children’s films. 'Focus On' highlights productions from specific countries or regions. Beyond that there are also special sections devoted to areas such as music videos, commercials, experimental films, historical films and retrospectives.

interfilm: Oscar® Qualifying Festival: In 2018 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles has declared interfilm an Academy Award® Qualifying Festival - read more

interfilm Berlin Short Film Distribution

The interfilm distribution portfolio currently comprises around 300 films. We place equal importance on distributing both 90 minute short film programs and individual shorts shown before a feature film. Our films are hired out to cinemas, television stations, cultural institutions and internet platforms. interfilm distribution's DVD sector is continually expanding, mostly for use in public spaces such as subway trains, waiting rooms and on mobile entertainment devices. This format is particularly suited to exploiting extremely short films and interfilm has a great selection at hand.