The virtual award ceremony of the first Short Film Audience Award of the City of Hof for AYSHA by Cengiz Akaygün on Tuesday 9 November 2021 was the glamorous conclusion of the 55th anniversary of the Hof International Film Festival as a hybrid model. This year there was, once again, cinema for everyone. From 26-31 October 2021, 67 feature films as well as 51 short films celebrated their premieres in the cinemas on site. Almost all films were then available on demand throughout Germany at the plus7streamingdays festival until 7 November 2021.
Many established and up-and-coming filmmakers exchanged ideas with the audience at their screenings, creating a great festival feeling. A special screening of Andreas Arnstedt's SCHATTENKIND for students was aimed at the cinema audience of tomorrow. Matthias Ditscherlein's cinema bus in Hof's old town expanded the cinema space. And the public LIQUID STAGING PROJECT ELECTRA '21 by Asteris Kutulas provided a preview of a cinema format of the future. For the festival’s 55th birthday, a look back can't be missing either. This year's Retrospective was a tribute to actor Joachim Król, who personally presented ten works from his past oeuvre. At the new series |8|16|35| HoF Classics on Film, five festival films were shown in analog form, films which went on to conquer the world from Hof. This again created unique moments that only (!) exist in the cinema and in HoF, at the Home of Films.
It is essential for the festival to offer creative solutions for constantly changing conditions. Thus, in addition to the slightly more than 10,000 film fans in the cinemas in Hof, there were also about 9,000 views on the HoF on Demand platform created by Rushlake Media. The numbers in the cinema more than doubled in absolute terms compared to last year, whereas the number of online views declined as expected with the expanded access options in the cinema.
Furthermore, the number of accredited trade visitors was on a very high level with more than 650 visitors. The AG Filmfestival, for example, met in Hof, and Pandora Filmverleih celebrated its founding at the festival 40 years ago. This clearly proves that the audience prefers the cinema and appreciates Hof as a meeting place for the industry.
In order to be the best possible communication platform for filmmakers, as an incentive and to share in the festival feeling, the Hof International Film Festival was the first festival to launch its own streaming channel back in 2020. This year, for the first time, content related to the festival was shown every day for eleven hours via the HoF channel during the festival. For more than seven hours per day, the festival produced its own formats for this purpose, many of them streamed live. In total, more than 100 filmmakers were interviewed.
Within the HoF PLUS program, the kick-off was at 10:00 a.m. with the new format Breakfast Club - the Breakfast Talk. After that there were club talks with filmmakers, panels, film trailers, and the established live late-night talk show GASTHoF starting at 11:00 pm on nine consecutive evenings. A highlight was also the Saturday soccer match of the filmmakers of the FC Hofer Filmtage against the team of the Hofer Filmwelt as a commented live broadcast. The speed pitch "7 minutes" again offered six newcomers the opportunity to present their projects to industry experts. And for the first time, there were master classes for everyone, where Asteris Kutulas and the eternal savage of American cinema Abel Ferrara gave insights into their work.
The award ceremonies always provide great moments. With a total of nine prizes, three new awards were also presented. In addition to the highly endowed Hof Gold Prize of the Friedrich Baur Foundation, the German Cinema New Talent Award, the Award of the City of Hof, the Hans Vogt Award, the Bild-Kunst Award, the GRANIT - Hof Documentary Award, the Jury and Audience Short Film Awards of the City of Hof, and the Hof Critics Award brought three film projects more into the spotlight.
We look back on a successful and inspiring festival 2021 and look forward to seeing you again in 2022 in Hof!
Thorsten Schaumann & Ana Radica & the team of the Hof International Film Festival