“What a day, what a beautiful day”
they sang on May 28th 1967 in Hof. However not because the city now had its own film festival. Much more so because the home team FC Bayern Hof was celebrating a step up in the national league with a 5:2 victory over Borussia Neunkirchen.
Hof 1967: a football town. Little wonder then that the Hof Film Festival to this day has a strong connection with football: no festival is complete without the traditional match between the film FC Hof Film Festival team (manned with German film professionals) and the so-called Hof Selection.
To be exact, the “First Hof Film Festival” never actually existed. The event that took place at the Regina Filmtheater one Sunday morning in 1967 with some 100 cinemagoers in attendance was – according to the two hand-painted posters – “the world’s smallest film festival”. Nine short films were shown, the shortest of which was 59 seconds, the longest lasting not quite 20 minutes. Among the directors were Vlado Kristl, Uwe Brandner, and Heinz Badewitz, a Hoferien living in Munich who organised the whole thing and premiered his own LEIDEN DES JUNGEN TRAUERBÖCK (“Sorrows of young Trauerböck”).
While no one seriously thought about continuing the event, over a beer in Werner Weinelt’s bar “Bootshaus” (whose “New Jazz Group” is considered to be one of the original seeds of the festival) there was some wondering about what it might be like if the short film matinee developed into a “Hof Film Festival”.
What clinched it were the West German Short Film Days the following year. When censorship was introduced to the renowned Oberhausen Festival, many directors protested by withdrawing their entries. Badewitz took advantage of the opportunity and invited colleagues to his hometown. The motto was,
“Everyone wants to head off to the big city – we don’t.”
Since Hof is a beer town, too, the 2nd Hof International Film Festival – as it was already being called – kicked off with a tour of one of the then many local breweries. Afterwards, everyone sat together in the beer garden before the first film was screened in the Scala Kino: Vlado Kristl’s DER BRIEF (“The letter”). It was somewhat strange, as films go, but there were others in the program that could also be considered “underground”. Werner Herzog and Werner Nekes, Adolf Winkelmann and George Moore presented their short films; the international side was represented by, among others, guests from Prague (one of whom declared the work of his western colleagues to be “a waste of material”), and Jean-Marie Straub’s CHRONIK DER ANNA MAGDALENA BACH (CHRONICLE OF ANNA MAGDALENA BACH) closed the event on Sunday afternoon.