FNE at KVIFF: Cottbus Unveils Polish/Ukraine Focus

By Cathy Meils

KARLOVY VARY: The 21st FilmFestival Cottbus (1-6 November 2011, www.filmfestivalcottbus.de) is taking a new "anti-nationalist approach," festival director Roland Rust told FNE, with a regional Polish-Ukraine focus, a parallel to the two countries' joint co-hosting of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship.

Rust along with Connecting Cottbus's (www.connecting-cottbus.de) new director Bernd Bruder and sponsor Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg's (www.medienboard.de) Managing Director Kirsten Niehuus greeted guests at their annual brunch during the Karlovy Vary IFF.

"We want to question the idea of national cinema," Rust told FNE, adding that he saw a "renaissance of regions establishing their own identity, regions that cross borders."

The festival will have two additional regional aspects. One focuses on the Laussitz region, which comprises the dual language German-Sorbian part of Germany which is home to Cottbus. "Location Laussitz" will celebrate the reopening of Germany's oldest functioning cinema, the newly refurbished Welt Spiegel Cinema, where the festival's main competition will be screened. And as part of the larger Brandenburg state, the festival is marking the centenary of filmmaking at Studio Babelsberg.

The final regional focus will be on the Weimar triangle: Germany, France, and Poland. Rust said the German Foreign Ministry has asked Cottbus to be an official contributor to the events taking place this year. The festival is now developing a concept that includes its two neighbor countries.

Finally, following the success of last year's new globalEAST focus, which looks at the impact of CEE cinema worldwide, Cottbus is adding it as a permanent section of the festival beginning in 2011.

While no titles have been unveiled, Rust added that the festival will certainly screen some films dealing with the subject of soccer.

The festival is also looking to expand its children's film section to include films for older youth, with Karlovy Vary IFF East of the West competition entry Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog) a likely choice. The three young Polish creator/directors of the edgy/alternative animated musical film said the film had split audience reactions.