The absolute highlight of the 56th Hof International Film Festival came from the USA and was called THE MENU. The exclusive meal sequence that gives the film its title is served to an equally exclusive evening party and is the highlight of the life of a star chef played by Ralph Fiennes. What happens is sensational, shocking, breathtaking – and terribly funny.
Films with political explosiveness from current conflict and crisis areas underlined the importance of this year’s festival, whose motto was “Society – Change as Opportunity”. On view were INTO THE DARKNESS by Mariia Shevchenko from Ukraine, about the Russian invasion of her country, and two contributions from Iran, where women are currently making headlines with their struggle for freedom. In BI ROYA – WITHOUT HER, Arian Vazirdaftari vividly describes the repressive methods of the regime. In the short film NOGHREH, Donya Madani, who was only able to travel to Hof with great difficulty, deals with child labor in her country.
“But of course, the Hof International Film Festival, in its 56th edition, was, as always and rather more than usual, a festival of German film.”
The number of films “celebrated” in the literal sense of the word continues to grow. In 2022, no less than ten prizes were awarded. The oldest one, which has been presented since 1986 as the Award of the City of Hof, went to director Aelrun Goette, born in East Berlin in 1966, who participated in the festival in 2003 with DIE KINDER SIND TOT and subsequently with two more premieres. The German-German comedy OLAF JAGGER by Heike Fink, which was screened at the festival opening and starred the popular comedian Olaf Schubert, received two awards.
The festival is increasingly gaining a special character through its wide-ranging framework program initiated and personally supervised by the busy festival director Thorsten Schaumann, which in 2022 also benefited from the new “meeting place” at the Haus Bürgergesellschaft. This was the third time that the program was offered on a hybrid basis: Most of the films were not only shown in cinemas in Hof, but also online, giving the festival a previously hardly imaginable reach. What started as an emergency solution in 2020 during the Corona pandemic is now to become the new normal: Hof remains hybrid.
Ralf Sziegoleit, the author, is arts journalist.
For many years he was features editor at the daily Hof newspaper Frankenpost for which he has been reporting on the Hof IFF since 1967.