Last year ole C.H. Newell helped present Randfilmfest in Kassel, Germany. It was remotely from my home province Newfoundland and Labrador, but what a blast! The festival was in its 6th year in 2019, meaning we’re now onto the 7th edition, running from September 17th to the 20th. This year’s theme? Gold of the Youth. The films are all about young people living, loving, thriving, drinking, drugging, fucking, dying, and everything else under the sun as they search for that eponymous gold. A beautiful, daring theme for 2020 when we look at what’s going on in the world. Young people— from the Black Lives Matter activists in America right now to the many Indigenous land protectors the world over and the young advocates pushing for climate change policies in every country— are desperately fighting for a new, better, more inclusive world.
This year, Randfilmfest is moving venues to the Bali cinemas in the KulturBahnhof, allowing for screenings in formats such as 35mm and 16mm. The festival seeks to bridge the best traditions of cinema with this year’s youthful themes because generations can come together to save cinema just as well as they can save the world together, too.
What does the 2020 Randfilmfest program have in store for its audience?
Well, seeing as how COVID-19 has changed the social landscape the festival will begin with a confirmation of “the purity of our hearts” with a “mysterious ablution ritual.” Everyone has to help one another to make cinemas safe places again since the outbreak of such an awful virus, so a ritual cleanse is only appropriate, bringing everyone together before the screenings begin. Then, Chello— a new voice in trap hip hop— will set the tone before Gregor Schmidinger’s latest film Nevrland plays as the opening film on the program.
Randfilmfest’s Rand Award is given to one feature film and one short film, filling out the program with many interesting stories like Fellwechselzeit (dir. Sabrina Mertens), and Fabrice du Welz’s most recent work, Adoration. There’s more on the main program, ranging from older to more contemporary films: 1985’s Come and See, one of the most brutal, eye-opening war stories in cinema; 2014’s The Tribe, a stunning Ukrainian film with no subtitles, shot entirely in Ukrainian Sign Language; Larry Clark’s 1995 youth shocker Kids which I saw at 2 am on TV one night during the late ’90s and it changed my life; Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, a vicious story that hurts to watch but requires being told; and much more.
A few special screenings include the European premiere of the 4K restoration of Dennis Hopper’s Out of the Blue, a truly nihilistic film. There’s a closing night screening of both Harmony Korine’s Gummo, screened in 35mm, and the 2019 adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński profoundly devastating 1965 novel The Painted Bird. There’s also a new section on the program: Children’s Films. You must be thinking, Randfilmfest is really showing films for kids? Maybe. Or perhaps this festival is going to challenge what exactly we consider a children’s film— the definition, here, is flexible.
The film’s 7th edition brings with it a handful of incredible guests, including Renaissance man Andreas Dorau, stunning actress and burlesque performer Sylvie Engelmann, an up-and-coming hip hop artist Chello, and a 16-year-old social media influencer named Sydney Burnie— all of whom will appear on a panel for a conversation about the intersection of life and career from creators of different generations, falling in with the festival’s themes this year. Other guests include Gregor Schmidinger who’ll present his film Nevrland and answer questions about it afterwards, as well as screen his short films; Sabrina Mertens will present her feature Fellwechselzeit (English title: Time of Moulting), plus a couple of her short films will play; and Carolina Hellsgård will be connected via video interview to talk about her film Sunburned, also playing at the festival and one of the Rand Award nominees.
So, what’s the Gold of the Youth?
Is it a gift? A curse? Is it something to invest in, or a gamble? Father Son Holy Gore doesn’t have the answers, but Randfilmfest is about to explore all these questions and more in its 7th exciting, disturbing, and unapologetic year. Get your tickets here, or miss out!