The International Short Film Festival Berlin, consisting of the Interfilm Festival and the KUKI Festival for children and young people, is one of the most important short film festivals worldwide.
Photo by: First Love, Spezialprogramm
Berlin is and has always been rich in film festivals. With a history of almost 40 years, the Interfilm festival has cinematically accompanied and reflected a rather significant part of recent Berlin history. Founded in 1982 as the Super 8 Film Festival in a Kreuzberg squat, it has developed into one of the most important festivals in Europe. After Oberhausen, it is the oldest short film festival in Germany, and the second oldest and second largest international film festival in Berlin after the Berlinale.
Each year thousands of filmmakers from around the globe submit their short films to the festival’s curatorial team. About 500 get selected and then organized into different program themes. Typically, these are International, German, Animation, Documentary, Movies for Children, "Focus On" (highlighting the productions of specific countries or regions), as well as the special sections, like music videos, commercials, experimental, and historical and retrospective films.
Photo by: Phlegm, Internationaler Wettbewerb
Photo by: Poke, Internationaler Wettbewerb
In today’s world, short films are growing in demand due to the perfect combination of streaming platforms (think Vimeo, YouTube, Mubi and shortoftheweek), newer online audience, and a dire need of different types of content. Part of the challenge and the blessing with short films is that there are very few ways for their creators to make much in the way of financial returns, which means often the only people working in the field are students and a handful of auteurs. But the lack of pressure to be profitable also enables short filmmakers to take risks, and the subculture surrounding shorts rewards pioneers in the genre. To be successful, a short film has to build up characters and conflict within minutes. Shorts are often way more experimental and challenging than feature movies.
It’d be impossible to review all the great shorts presented at this year’s festival. The program is outstanding. Just to name a few, an International Competition this year, for example, is divided into eight blocks, covering various angles of mental health, human journeys, heteronomy, survival, and becoming advocates for change. There’s also a Green Film program, featuring ten films, including Migrants, a beautiful animation telling a story of the two polar bears, driven into exile due to global warming and trying to coexist with the brown bears.
Photo by: eject_XXIX Die lange Nacht des abwegigen Films
Photo by: Migrants. Umweltfilmwettbewerb
Photo by: Le Bain.Internationaler Wettbewerb
The “Focus On” program gives spotlight to Hungary, with three different shorts blocks, examining issues of solitude, toxicity of the oppressing regime, and the spectrum of resistance. There’s even the long night of the “weird shorts,” taking place at the Volksbühne on the 19th. You’ll be able to watch and cast your vote on the best short, which cannot be categorized or in any way called a “classic.”
The obscure times we live in don’t require watching dumbed-down movies. The independent and somewhat unruly category of short film is not always an easily digestible product, but, in its core, preserves what cinema has been since the very beginning – discovery and experiment. We encourage you to see some of the best selection of the festival.
Participating theaters include Volksbühne, Babylon, Pfefferberg Theater, Zeiss Großplanetarium, Acud Kino, among others. Program passes can be bought online or as single tickets in cinemas’ online shops.