In 1972, the festival’s event date was moved to early November and the duration was extended to cover four days. ‘The time for experimenting is now over’, Badewitz declared. Meaning that the short films, which had served as the original impulse, no longer played as dominant a role; the young feature film was pushing its way into cinema programs. Nine features, complemented by 21 shorts, made up the 11 two-hour programs. The two documentaries LIEBE MUTTER, MIR GEHT ES GUT (‘Dear Mother, I’m alright’) and DIE WOLLANDS stood out positively among the features. On the downside, however, admissions were dwindling.
To boot, Hof’s nightlife suffered a great loss when one of its greatest attractions closed down: the ‘Resi’. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, ‘the hottest strip this side of the Reeperbahn’ had been staged there until 1973 – at least that’s what an article reported on the festival, also mentioning that the town ‘reeks of roast potatoes’.
‘Cinema should be fun again.’
That was Badewitz’s motto for the eighth edition of the festival in 1974. Or perhaps, in more sophisticated wording, ‘We want to show socially relevant films that will also accommodate the viewing tastes of a broad audience.’ It was primarily the American films that provided the ‘fun’: John Waters presented PINK FLAMINGO, and breast-fetishist Russ Meyer posed the question HOW MUCH LOVING DOES A NORMAL COUPLE NEED? in his hysterical small-town drama. But it was Werner Herzog who, once again, delivered the highlight with his Kaspar Hauser story JEDER FÜR SICH UND GOTT GEGEN ALLE (THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER).
In 1975, after nine of eleven screenings in all, Badewitz announced a record in admissions and revenue. In this context one might add that, of the limited budget of DM 17,000 (which originally should have totalled 19,500 but had to be slimmed down due to subsidy reductions), at least DM 8,000 had to be taken in at the box office. A guest from the Oberhausen Festival commented, ‘With the amount of money available here for the entire budget, other festivals could barely finance their opening reception.’
Premieres of German features by Kückelmann, Lilienthal, and Bitomsky were shown. And for the first time, a smart film from the GDR: FÜR DIE LIEBE NOCH ZU MAGER? (‘As yet too skinny for love?’) was part of the program, and the Polish director Kieslowski, who later became famous and was honored with the first European Film Award, impressed audiences with DAS PERSONAL (PERSONNEL), a film which portrayed the hierarchy of power among the crew of an opera house. One critic concluded,
‘The happy-go-lucky provincial festival has indeed developed into a cultural attraction.’
A year later, with the festival taking place in the renovated three-cinema venue, the German weekly Die Zeit called the tenth edition of the event ‘a fest for the cinema’. A new passion for movies seemed to have gripped Hof. Almost all screenings were sold out. Audiences celebrated Erwin Keusch’s DAS BROT BACKT DER BÄCKER (distributor’s title: DAS BROT DES BÄCKERS; English title: BAKER’S BREAD), Volker Schlöndorff presented DER FANGSCHUSS (COUP DE GRACE), Swiss director Alain Tanner showed his JONAS, and for the first time there was a retrospective – accompanied by a guest from abroad: Brian de Palma. OBSESSION was the name of his new film which he presented in a showcase together with PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, HI MOM, SISTERS, and GREETINGS.
Forty-five journalists reported on the events of the anniversary edition, and they liked what they saw. The Frankfurter Rundschau called it,
‘One of the most adorable festivals in the world.’