One shouldn’t shirk the discussion of current political problems, said Badewitz, as the 2014 edition of the festival began for the 48th time. And the films really did address such issues as trouble spots, exodus, and asylum. The films of the Israeli director Eran Riklas, political even while telling interpersonal stories, were the subject of that year’s retrospective. Dominik Graf presented the tough crime story SMOKE ON THE WATER, Bastian Günther returned with a strange roadmovie, a mix of feature, documentary and essay film: CALIFORNIA CITY. But the best came from America and England: Iñárritu’s comedy BIRDMAN and Mike Leigh’s MR TURNER about the painting ‘master of light’. As Chris Kraus received the city’s Film Award, he emphasised:
‘I owe my career to Heinz Badewitz.’
What the city of Hof, which named him an Honorary Citizen in 2009, owes to the festival’s founder and director, would be depicted a year and a half later in a moving memorial service when he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
But hale and hearty – with his usual aplomb – he lead his 49th festival in 2015. Among the German entries such features as Thomas Stuber’s boxer drama HERBERT (A HEAVY HEART) and 8 SEKUNDEN (EIN AUGENBLICK UNENDLICHKEIT) by Ömer Faruk Sorak stand out. A realistic view of recent German history was offered by the documentary MEINE REISE IN DIE DDR – 25 JAHRE SPÄTER (‘My trip to the GDR – 25 years on’) by Wolfgang Ettlich, who repeated a tour he began and ended in Hof in 1990 shortly after the fall of the Wall. The results of the first tour had been screened at the festival in 1991 with AUSGERECHNET BANANEN – EIN DEUTSCH-DEUTSCHES WIRTSCHAFTSWUNDER (‘Bananas of all things – A German-German economic miracle‘).
Later, he participated at the festival four more times, and Ettlich is also the man who made the film DER HEINZ VOM FILM, on the occasion of the festival’s 40th anniversary. In the year of the 50th anniversary, Bavarian Television broadcasted the film once again, but this time not on the occasion of the anniversary, but rather half a year earlier – because Heinz Badewitz, while visiting the film festival in Graz, had passed away.