Minor crises and greater successes
Now back to chronological order. “Grandpa’s cinema still alive and kicking”, the Süddeutsche Zeitung commented on the edition of 1987 and rebuked the German films presented – among them HIMMEL ÜBER BERLIN (WINGS OF DESIRE) by Wenders, Jan Schütte’s DRACHENFUTTER (“Dragon’s food”), and Percy Adlon’s OUT OF ROSENHEIM – for being “half-hearted and conform”.
A year later, Laurens Straub, one of the promoters of young German cinema, received the Film Award of the City of Hof and complained they had not succeeded in emancipating film from a so-called “false competition”, in which the only important criterion was to duly entertain the audience. Film, he continued, had distanced itself ever more from the participation in “what life’s all about”.
For German films, it was the year of the women. They showed films about love: Pia Frankenberg’s BRENNENDE BETTEN (“Burning beds”), Monika Treut’s (highly controversial) DIE JUNGFRAUENMASCHINE (“Virgin machine”), Ute Wieland’s (acclaimed) IM JAHR DER SCHILDKRÖTE (“Year of the turtle”), Helma Sanders-Brahms’s MANÖVER (“Maneuver”), Vivian Naefe’s PIZZA-EXPRESS, and Bettina Woernle’s DER EINBRUCH (THE ACCOMPLICE).
In 1989, the festival takes place in five venues, a first. The addition is the Regina-Kino which 22 years earlier had hosted the small initial festival lasting all of two hours. This year, the program comprises more than sixty feature and short films from eleven countries but fails to convince the national press that condemn it as a “feeble”, if not “bad” edition.
During the 1990 festival, Hof was beleaguered as a popular shopping destination for tens of thousands of East Germans. Nevertheless, Badewitz did without entries from the former GDR: “We won’t participate in the hunt for the last film hidden away in some drawer.” The film about the opening of the border came from the West. Christoph Schlingensief gave it the title DAS DEUTSCHE KETTENSÄGENMASSAKER (THE GERMAN CHAINSAW MASSACRE). East Germans (“Ossis”) were massacred by West Germans (“Wessis”) who wanted to turn them into sausage-meat. The German film scene was further represented by Praunheim with AFFENGEIL (LIFE IS LIKE A CUCUMBER), Peter Sehr with DAS SERBISCHE MÄDCHEN (THE SERBIAN GIRL), and Sönke Wortmann with EINE WAHNSINNSEHE (“A mad marriage”). Dennis Hopper contributed to the international program with THE HOT SPOT, as did Paul Schrader with THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS.
1991: 25 years of Hof. Hof no longer was a football town. The FC Bayern Hof, which in 1967 just barely missed getting into the national league, once again failed to make it to the highest amateur class. So the traditional film festival football match can certainly be considered the most important one of the year – one in which the FC Hof Film Festival deemed to make up for the 0:5 loss the year before. But it didn’t work out: KARNIGGELS-director Detlev Buck guarding the goal was unable to prevent a 2:3 defeat.
The festival, however, was a success. Badewitz: ‘The whole world wanted to come to Hof. The program was better than ever before.’ The best did not come from Germany, though, but rather from Canada (Atom Egoyan’s THE ADJUSTER), from the USA (BOYZ ‘N THE HOOD), from England (RIFF-RAFF by Ken Loach), from France (DELICATESSEN) and from Belgium (TOTO L’HERO).
In 1992, the film festival football team won a 4:2 victory and respect was gained for the German film with Ralf Huettner’s DER PAPAGEI (‘The parrot’), in which Harald Juhnke played an eloquent Micawber roped into services for a right wing party, with Niklaus Schilling’s DEUTSCHFIEBER (‘German fever’), Helke Misselwitz’s HERZSPRUNG (‘Crack in the heart’) which showed how the reunited Germans dealt with a foreigner, and with VERLORENE LANDSCHAFT (LOST LANDSCAPE), Andreas Kleinert’s description of a model – and hence very difficult – (East-)German childhood. So much for German films not participating in what life’s all about.