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Filmfest Hamburg: would you like kiwi with that?

Filmfest Hamburg opens today NZ time, and runs until October 3. Screening over 140 national and international feature and documentary films in eight sections, the DELUXE category this year focuses on New Zealand, or Neuseeland as they call it.

The focus on NZ comes off the back of a strategic alliance, signed between Auckland and Hamburg for three years in 2007. The alliance was specifically targeted support opportunities for growth in key sectors, including creative industries. Six Kiwi films from the 60s to the 80s will screen at the festival, in the latest event to showcase the relationship between the cities.

The films showing at the Hamburg Filmfest are Barry Barclay’s Ngati, David Blyth’s Angel Mine, David Firth’s Oscar-nominated hang-gliding doc Off The Edge, John O’Shea’s Runaway featuring Barry Crump and Kiri Te Kanawa, Merata Mita’s doc of the 1981 Springbok tour Patu! and John Reid’s Carry Me Back.

The festival will also screen The Experimental Archive: Adventures in New Zealand Film-making 1933–2007, a collection of shorts from the Film Archive, as part of the same DELUXE section.

The Filmfest screenings are only one example of how the strategic alliance is developing. Earlier this year, Tomas Tieschl, a German producer from Hamburg’s filmtank, attended the DOCNZ Summit, which had a focus on Germany as one of its threads. (For those with a sense of irony, the other thread was humour.)

The winner of the Goethe Institut scholarship awarded at the Summit, Julie Hill, is currently in Hamburg and will present several of the NZ films screening at Filmfest.

In 2008, Hamburg selected New Zealand as profile country for their annual animation awards. The Missing Sock won of the Country Award. Austin Hillebrecht from Lifeway College, flew to Germany to collect his award, accompanied by Mark Smith from Media Design School, who received a highly commended accolade for his film Das Versuchstier. Both winners met with Disney character designer, Stephen Silver, as part of their trip.

This year, Cameron Smith of Media Design School flew to Hamburg to accept the third place award for TimeTo Fly and to take part in a workshop with ‘Ice Age 2’ and ‘Ice Age 3’ co-director, Mike Thurmeier.

The arrangements for the films being presented at Filmfest were managed by Auckland City Council’s Birgit Hermann, with assistance from the Film Archive, the NZ Film Commission, NZTE, the NZ Embassy in Berlin and Film Auckland.