In its 19th round, FilmFestival Cottbus is starting off with both a new record of national and international premieres and a significant raise of the prize money. A special highlight at the festival-opening is the screening of the German-Russian co-production THE LAST STATION, starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer as the main characters Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sofya.
"This is a wonderful start for our festival," says Festival Director Roland Rust. A descendant of Tolstoy already confirmed his participation at the festival-opening. "Our programme expanded this year again", so Rust. "All together we show 140 movies from 34 different countries." Traditionally, the focus is on the feature and short feature film, in 2009 productions from Albania, Azerbaijan, Russia, the Balcans and Georgia are competing for the prize sculpture "LUBINA".
Thanks to new benefactors the Festival´s prize endowments have been increased from 66.500 € in 2008 to 76.000 € in 2009.
Black Sea and GDR
This year's focus lies on the Black Sea Region, symbolised by the pomegranate. Curator is Southeast European expert Bernd Buder (Berlin). Festival theme days are dedicated to the extensive filmmaking of Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan starting on Wednesday with the "Russkiy Den" followed by "Polskie Horyzonty" on Thursday and "Salem, Kazakhstan" on Friday.
Even 20 years after the fall of the Berlin wall "Times of change" also find their way into the Festival - in a quite unusual manner. Curated by Karin Fritzsche the Festival presents features by amateur filmclubs shot within enterprises and cultural organisations especially at the end of the GDR´s existence. Its intention is to show how non-professional filmmakers increasingly insisted on their freedom of speech during the 1980s. This year's Youth- and Children´s film programme has a similar objective concentrating on a playful approach to GDRs reality, while for instance selfdetermination is one of the main topics throughout most of the later DEFA children´s films.
"National Hits" have also gained popularity: This section focuses on national blockbusters which have surpassed even Hollywood productions at the box offices in their respective countries. Especially successful have been a perfectly choreographed musical film from Poland, a Czech romantic comedy, a Russian retro-musical, a historical drama from Serbia, and a sequel from Hungary. Most of the time deep insights into our neighbours everyday life and mentality stay hidden from foreigners. This is going to change, since all five hits will have their first international /German screening here in Cottbus.
Fitted for film fans is the section called "Spectrum" with its wide range of East European cinema.
Exciting Festival Events
Not only cinema but also many other events will be part of this year's festival. Numerous parties and concerts shall give visitors the opportunity to experience East European culture first hand. The double Grammy winner "The Klezmatics" from New York will start their European tour in Cottbus. Jury member Robert Stadlober (KRABAT) together with his fellow actor David Winter will be performing on stage. Further highlights are bands like "Do I smell Cupcakes" (Cottbus), "Orientation" (Berlin), the Sorbian band "Die Folksamen" (Cottbus), and the musical formation "Male instrumenti" (Poland). Additional exhibitions and opportunities to film talks with directors will complete the list of festival events.
The festival programme and supporting programme can be found on our homepage: