The Filmfestival Münster is an event organised by the Filmwerkstatt Münster (Muenster Filmgruppe e.V.). It takes place every second year — in the autumn of odd numbered years (i.e. 2001, 2003, etc.).
The oldest competitive film festival in the Westphalia region started in 1981 and was entitled Filmzwerge — Tage des unabhängigen Films (Short films — the days of independent film). Even though the name and concept of the festival has changed over the years, the competition of German-language short films remains the centrepiece of the festival. The first festival featured short films exclusively — even in the supporting programme. A retrospective show under the motto Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (Even dwarfs started off small) showcased some past short films by Werner Herzog, Rosa von Praunheim, Wim Wenders and others.
It wasn’t until 1985 that the second film festival was held, the location this time being the “Werkstattkino” in the former pumping station in Gartenstraße, which is now the “Theater im Pumpenhaus”. This was the first year where Studio Münster from the WDR sponsored the youth promotional prize.
After “Filmzwerge 88”, which showcased films and visitors from the York film workshop in its supporting programme, the festival moved to the “Schloßtheater” cinema at the beginning of the 1990’s, where it remained until 2003.
In 1996, “Filmzwerge” could not take place due to a lack of public sponsorship. Instead highlights from previous festivals were screened and a discussion group on the future of the Filmfestival Münster was set up. The following year, the festival was held again with new themes and under the new title Filmfestival Münster which it still bears today. This also marked the beginning of the close collaboration with our Dutch neighbours. Since then, Dutch films have been a standard of the festival’s programme — a unique feature for film festivals throughout Germany — showcasing the latest productions and directors. In addition, the 1997 festival also saw the introduction of the best screenplay prize from the province of North-Rhine Westphalia.
The Dutch theme dominated the Filmfestival Münster in 1999. Under the title of “NL+”, a retrospective was devoted to the renowned actress Johanna ter Steege as well as others. The newly-founded Stichting film|spiegel (which has since been busy promoting the exchange of cinematic culture on the other side of the border) also held a German-Dutch symposium on co-production, distribution and promotion that same year.
Several programme items with an explicit regional focus were launched for the 20th anniversary of the festival in 2001. The “Münsterland-Filmrolle” (Münsterland film reel) showed both private and released films from the past 80 years, the Drehbuchförderpreis Münster.Land (Münster screenplay prize) was awarded for the first time and a series of short films were devoted to the theme of “Heimat” (Homeland). At the same time, the festival’s European orientation grew in importance: under the title “Cinema Europe”, select sneak previews of European feature films were shown as part of the supporting programme.
Along with the proven formula of the short film competition, the Dutch film section and “Cinema Europe”, the 10th Filmfestival Münster had more in store in 2003. An anniversary celebration of the female filmmakers whose short films were screened in Münster over the years aimed to discover what became of them — whether they made the jump to feature-length films or switched to other disciplines.
A special highlight was the German premiere of the Dutch-German co-production Verder dan de maan — Sea of Silence from Stijn Coninx, where a large portion of the film team was present.
The most significant prize in the short film competition, the Filmwerkstatt’s “Großer Preis”, was shared by Jochen Kuhn for Neulich 3 — (Recently 3), Münster’s discovery Stephan Flint Müller for Nasse Zigarren aus Berlin — Wet Cigars from Berlin and the directing duo of Hanna Nordholt and Fritz Steingrobe for Yo Lo Vi — I saw it. The WDR promotional award went to Swiss filmmaker Benjamin Kempf for his film Exit while the audience choice award went to Wolfgang Dinslage for Die Katze von Altona — The Cat of Altona.
The 11th Filmfestival Münster took place from 19 to 23 October 2005 in the Stadt New York cinema. For the first time, eight films vied for the best director prize worth €10,000 in the European feature film competition with the theme of »Growing Up«. The Romanian Radu Mihaileanu won with his film Live and Become. 68 films took part in the German-language short film competition. The Filmwerkstatt’s “Großer Preis” was won by the animated film Das Floß — The Raft by Jan Thüring while the WDR promotional award went to both Thomas Wendrich’s short film Zur Zeit verstorben — Presently Dead and the short documentary film La Vida Dulce from Bettina Blümner and Rouven Rech. The audience choice award was given to Stephan Flint Müller for his collage Fliegenpflicht für Quadratköpfe — Bow Tie Duty for Squareheads. The supporting programme was run in conjunction with the film|spiegel foundation and included films by and about Theo van Gogh. The Himmel und Hölle (Heaven and Hell) series showed five love stories in collaboration with the Diocese of Münster. The “Münster Connection” featured films that were produced either by the Filmwerkstatt Münster or near the city of Münster. A sneak preview of “Tatort” rounded off the programme of films. Additionally, in keeping with the theme of the European competition, a symposium was held on the work of children and youth in front of the camera.
The 12th Münster Film Festival took place in the city’s Cineplex from 17 to 21 October. Eight films competed in the feature film competition based on the theme of “Work! Don’t Work!” The award for best director was won by Aleksi Salmenperä for his film Man’s Job. The debut film from director Jan Bobby, Gegenüber — Opposite, received a commendation from the jury.
A total of 52 films took part in the German-language short film competition in 2007. The “Großer Preis” from the Filmwerkstatt Münster went to the short film Hochhaus — Skyscraper by Nikias Chryssos while the WDR promotional award went to Hilda & Karl by Toke Constantin Hebbeln. The audience choice award was given to 15 Minuten Wahrheit — 15 Minutes of Truth by Nico Zingelmann. Commendations were received by the films Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen & Mr. Horlocker from Stefan Müller and Kobe from Rainer Komers. This year also saw the introduction of the school programme — which was also dedicated to the theme of work. As part of the programme, the short film Frl. Pabst & Frl. Wüst — Ms. Pabst & Ms. Wüst by Christa Pfafferott received a prize, awarded by a jury of school pupils.
In the supporting programme, the Münster.Land best screenplay award went to Ruth Olshan und Heike Fink for Himbeeren mit Senf — Raspberries with Mustard. The documentary Camilo — The Long Road to Disobedience by Peter Lilienthal and co-produced by the Filmwerkstatt Münster acted as a preview and a three-part set of documentaries entitled Einsichten (Insights) gave further insights into the festival’s theme of work.
The bigger the risk, the greater the reward. With around 7,000 visitors, the 13th Münster Film Festival was not just the most successful festival we've had, it was also one of the most enjoyable ever. The festival saw major VIP events such as the German premiere of UNTER BAUERN (which was even attended by more unusual guests such as football trainer Mirko Slomka and Scorpions singer Klaus Meine) and the premiere of TEMPELRÄUBER, the Münster-based instalment of the incredibly popular German detective show Tatort. In addition, the variety and quality of smaller films and the great atmosphere among the filmmakers, guests, judges and spectators also turned the five jam-packed days in the Cineplex into a great experience for everyone involved.
The winner of the European feature film competition about the issue of »risk« was the difficult yet poetic film fairytale VERSAILLES (one of the final appearances of the late Guillaume Depardieu) by director Pierre Schoeller, who was visibly moved by this honour.
In the short film competition, the big prize awarded by Filmwerkstatt Münster went to Daniel Büttner and Max Baberg for their animated film FALLEN GELASSEN. The verdict of the short film jury: “The boys from Peppermill-Berlin rock harder than Disney would have allowed!” Honourable mentions went to actor Jacob Matschenz in the film FLIEGEN, as well as to Patrick Doberenz and Philipp Enders for their innovative short documentary MAN STIRBT. Winner of the audience award, sponsored by Münstersche Filmtheater-Betriebe, Münster’s cinema operators, was the documentary WAGAH by Supriyo Sen about an absurd spectacle at the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. The touching film REGENBOGENENGEL from Anna Kasten won the sponsorship award from WDR Studio Münster. In the schools program, the student jury awarded its prize on the topic of courage to the 10-minute film WIDERSTAND by Baris Aladag.
In addition to the competition sections, the fabulous atmosphere was further enhanced by the new section »Unheimlich & Böse« (»Sinister & Evil«) for fans of fantasy films, the »Münster Connection« with regional productions, the film|spiegel series with current works from NL, lively conversations in the cosy festival lounge, the successful Record-Riot festival party and the relaxed film breakfast. As a special event, the two-week exhibition »risk.view« offered insights into current video artworks by students at AKI Enschede and the Academy of Fine Arts Münster. »Risk« also took centre stage in the podium discussion, which examined “individual adventures” at work and in everyday life.