Documentary Films at the 49th Hof International Film Festival

This year the Hof International Film Festival will be presenting a strong documentary program with 28 films. Three main topics are noticeable: on the one hand, music films and artist portraits, and on the other, films dealing with the current situation in the world – war, escape or the search for a new home, whether in a foreign land or in one’s own culture. But what all of the documentaries have in common is that they are powerfully convincing, with strong images, moving stories and encounters with interesting personalities.

Music Films and Artist Portraits

In BLACKTAPE, Sékou Neblett goes in search of Tigon, the legendary creator of German hip hop. And the trip turns into a journey to oneself. The multi-media artist Laurie Anderson also takes us on a journey to love, death, lyric poetry and music with her very personal essay HEART OF A DOG. Cosima Lange’s HELLO I’M DAVID! EINE REISE MIT DAVID HELFGOTT about the charismatic pianist is totally different. German Kral portraits in his new film OUR LAST TANGO the model couple of Argentine Tango, María Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, who have lead a love-hate relationship all their lives, but are unrivalled in their dancing talent. In JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE, Amy J. Berg offers insight into the life of the pop icon Janis Joplin. Jörg Steineck’s LO SOUND DESERT presents desert rock from California. In FOR MY SISTERS, Stephanus Domanig accompanies the Vienna-based American singer Carole Alston on her journey to the roots of jazz and her musical sisters Alberta Hunter, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughn. It becomes tangible just how inseparable the music of these women to the history of slavery and segregation in the USA really is. In her film FORBACH FOREVER Marie Dumora follows two guitarists from Forbach/France through their world of concerts, tours and making music with family and neighbors in back courtyards, between camper vans and barbecue fires. Gypsy jazz by the “children” of Django Reinhardt.

War, Escape or the Search for a New Home

Adnan G. Köse portrays refugee problems in LAST REFUGE, based on the individual fates of those affected, like a Syrian family in the temporary housing for refugees “An der Fliehburg” in Dinslaken. DIE KLEINSTE ARMEE DER WELT consists of two members of the Bavarian Taliban who, with a turban and a Kalashnikov rifle, test a new culture of acceptance. Director Martin Gerner accompanies them on their experiment to civilize the Alpine region. The festival will also screen a special presentation of Düzen Tekkal’s HÁWAR which recapitulates, with evocative moments, the genocide of the Yazidi. In 1990, Wolfgang Ettlich took off on a journey to discover the unknown GDR. On his trip, he encountered people who were facing the reunification with joy, dreams, but also fears. 25 years later, Ettlich and his cameraman Hans-Albrecht Lusznat set out in MEINE REISE IN DIE DDR on the same route, hoping to meet some of the same people.

Moving Stories

In CHALK ON CONCRETE, the sisters Helene and Julia Vogel depict the everyday work life of Elena, an employee of the human rights organization Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg, who advocates drafted soldiers who don’t want to serve in the army, but prefer alternative community service. In WHERE TO, MISS?, Manuela Bastian portrays a young Indian woman trying to free herself of traditional gender roles and develop a taxi service for women. In WILD WOMEN, GENTLE BEASTS, Anka Schmid also deals with strong women fighting for their existence: sexy animal tamers who glitter in the circus ring, but backstage render hard work and put their lives on the line. The best-selling author Sibylle Berg provokes and polarizes. With their film WER HAT ANGST VOR SIBYLLE BERG, the filmmakers Wiltrud Baier and Sigrun Köhler take off on an adventurous journey with the author. In his minimalistic interview film MY TALK WITH FLORENCE, Paul Poet tells the shocking story of Florence Burnier-Bauer who lived in Otto Mühl’s Austrian Friedrichs Commune. SOMMER IN WIEN by Walter Größbauer describes five different flows of life in the Austrian capital. BERLIN [BEN BERLIN] - AUS DIESEM TRALLALA KOMMST DU NICHT RAUS by Pantea Lachin and Sobo Swobodnik portrays the 85-year-old Berlin-based performance artist and activist Ben Wagin. GRAY MATTERS by Marco Orsini presents the work of the great designer Eileen Gray. PLASTIC MAN: THE ARTFUL LIFE OF JERRY ROSS BARRISH by William Farley tells the story of the artist who was forever on the verge of a big breakthrough.

Back again this year are Alexander Riedel with HEY UNI, a series of 18 fast-paced short films showing the lives of five students over the course of a year, and Günter Schwaiger with SEIT DIE WELT DIE WELT IST, which accompanies a family of Castilian mountain farmers in times of crisis. In Julia Tal’s Z’BARG, a couple realizes a long-held dream: to spend a summer on an Alpine farm, which also becomes a test for their relationship. Sabine Kückelmann sheds light on the relationship between man and animal in her film IM NAMEN DER TIERE. In GRENZBOCK, Hendrik Löbbert follows three hunters on their expeditions, revealing the images hidden behind hunting terminology and loden coats. In Philip Baribeau’s UNBRANDED, four friends set out with 16 Mustang horses on a wild journey which will change their lives. Three former priests talk about their motives for leaving the church in Peter Woditsch’s IN GOD’S HANDS.


For the first time this year, the GRANIT – HOF DOCUMENTARY AWARD, endowed with 7.500 euros and donated by the Hermann and Bertl Müller Foundation, will be awarded to the Best German Documentary.