Julia Helmke New INTERFILM President

(vis) The International Interchurch Film Organisation INTERFILM has a new president. At their General Assembly in Hannover last weekend the INTERFILM members elected reverend Julia Helmke, Commissioner for Art and Cultural Affairs of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hannover, to this office. She is the first woman to direct the organisation since its foundation in 1955. INTERFILM represents the Protestant churches by either its own, ecumenical or interreligious juries at international film festivals as Cannes, Berlin or Venice among many others. Julia Helmke has been jury member for several times, and has written her PhD on the development of the festival commitment by the churches. In her analysis of the motivations, aims and foundations of these initiatives she highlighted in particular the ecumenical cooperation between Protestant and Catholic film organisations which started with the first ecumenical jury in Locarno in 1973.

Julia Helmke follows the Swiss reverend Hans Hodel, president of INTERFILM since 2004, who did not stand for another period. He continues however to organise the church festvial juries as INTERFILM’s jury coordinator, an office he holds since 1989. In Hannover the World Catholic Association for Communication SIGNIS, INTERFILM’s partner organisation at numerous festivals, appreciated his merits for ecumenical film acitivities by an Honorary Award. It was presented by Jos Horemans, president of SIGNIS Europe, who attended the INTERFILM meeting as guest.of honour.

The ceremonial climax of INTERFILM’s General Assembly was a reception by the Church of Hannover to appreciate Hans Werner Dannowski, Honorary President of the film organisation who will celebrate his 80th birthday in the next few days. Dannowski has been Hannover’s City Superintendent and Film Commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). Bishop Ralf Meister, an INTERFILM member himself, and Petra Bahr, Commissioner for Cultural Affairs of the EKD, both confessed to feel themselves as pupils of the preacher Hans Werner Dannowski who is gifted to relate art – the art of film in particular – and Gospel in a manner matched by only a few. His articles, speeches and film sermons witness his art of exegesis in exploring both, their contrasts and their affinities. Thus, Hans Werner Dannowski has given impulses to join church and culture which will remain.