70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

01.05.2024 to 06.05.2024

On 5 May 2024, the prizes of the 70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen were awarded at the Festival Cinema Lichtburg. The Ecumenical Jury in the International Competition awarded its prize to the German-Chinese film "O ma" (Before Then) by Xie Mengzhu and a Commendation to "Hitbasrut" (Decryption) by Maya Zack from Israel, the Ecumenical Jury in the Children's and Youth Film Competition honoured the Japanese-American production "The Old Young Crow" by Liam LoPinto and awarded a Commendation to "Lulina e la lua" (Lulina and the Moon) by Marcus Vinicios Vasconcelos and Alois Di Leo from Brazil. The Grand Prix of the City of Oberhausen as well as the Prize of the Jury of International Film Critics (Fipresci) went to Chinese director Wang Zhiyi for his film "Chūn Èr shí sān" (Spring 23), while the main prize of the International Jury went to "The Many Interrupted Dreams of Mr Hemmady" by Amit Dutta from India.

The anniversary edition of the festival was overshadowed by the controversies surrounding the war in Gaza. Shortly after the Hamas atrocities on 7 October, festival director Lars Henrik Gass posted a call for support for a solidarity demonstration in Berlin for Israel and against anti-Semitism. Pro-Palestinian groups then attempted to organise a boycott of the festival, with the result that a number of filmmakers and distributors withdrew their films from the programme, some of which had already been booked. Sober and differentiated explanations from the festival director had little or no success. Parts of the festival had to be reorganised at short notice. The conflict was also observed by the public beyond social media.

As a further reaction to the polarisation of the debate, a conference entitled "Longing for freedom from contradiction" was held at the start of the festival, which called for differentiation beyond the hardened fronts and was concluded with a discussion with Lars Henrik Gass, the sociologist Alexandra Schauer and the film critic and filmmaker Rüdiger Suchsland as part of the official opening ceremony on the evening of 1 May. A seminar held during the festival on the question "Are festivals still a universalist project?" also dealt with the festival boycott, among other things. Gass received political and symbolic encouragement shortly before the start of the festival with the announcement that he would be awarded the Ernst Cramer Medal 2024 by the German-Israeli Society in honour of his commitment to German-Israeli relations. The award ceremony will take place on 8 June in Bremen.

Link: Festival website


Before then
Directed by:

Language can be a barrier: We don't know the other person's language or can’t understand what they want to tell us. Language can also be liberating: finally expressing what is on my mind, revealing myself and to share my inner feelings.

But can language be both a barrier and a liberation? Yes, this paradox is possible. Our winning film this year proves it.

By dissolving the traditional categories of speaker and listener, it is also possible to express what cannot be said. A letter in a foreign language becomes a possibility of communication that remains misunderstood, and at the same time the unspeakable is said and no longer hidden. (Photo: © Mengzhu Xue)

The film is about our relationship with the people we love, the people we don't want to let go, and the people we want open up to. But it also shows how the gap between different generations, social systems and places can prevent us from fully understanding each other. It shows us a creative way of dealing with the unspeakable and is a plea for an intense relationship between us and our neighbours.

Directed by:

Memories fade - this experience is part of being human. We would give a lot to be able to go back in time for a moment and refresh our memories of people we care about. One film in this year's competition brings this to the screen in a unique, tactile way. Based on a personal story, the film uses intense scenes to explore a universal human theme. We read it as an opportunity to dive deeper into the existential questions about the other within the self, about the materiality and conditions of memory. Despite the healing power of multi-layered attempts to get closer: Memory resists its  complete decryption.

Directed by:

In The Old Young Crow, an elderly man reminisces about a childhood experience of solitude in a new location while reading his old sketchbook. His drawings transport him back to a significant moment in a quiet graveyard, where he found solace and encountered an older woman grieving her son's loss. This film employs innovative animation techniques alongside live action, weaving a heartfelt narrative about a spiritually sensitive boy adapting to new religious customs. Through connecting with the deceased and reconciling his own losses, he discovers a sense of belonging in his unfamiliar surroundings.

Lulina and the Moon

"Lulina and the Moon" is a playful exploration of one of life's major transitions that many children worldwide encounter. It follows a young girl as she grapples with this change by immersing herself in drawing and retreating into a parallel fantasy realm. As she moves between fantasy and reality, she discovers that the imagined monster may actually represent a friendly and joyful new reality. The film is beautifully crafted, expressive, and vibrant, showcasing a captivating Droste effect or 'double' animation. It features a talented young animator who brings the protagonist's inner world of fears and desires to life.