Working as a festival programmer is a lonely job. You sit opposite a screen, a hunter laying in wait for images – his prey. But when the film being shown on the screen is the right one, what happens is almost magical. Your loneliness disappears, reality is transformed, and the film ends up grabbing you rather than the other way around. As I put together the “Open Horizons” program, I always look forward to that moment when I’ll be caught in a film’s “trap”; to that delightful surprise that comes along even when – after so many films, so many festivals, so many discoveries – you wonder if you can still find something unpredictable, something subversive, something stimulating.
Over the past few months, such moments have come – fortunately – again and again. And for someone whose work, but even more importantly: whose passion is cinema, this is truly an injection of hope.
This year’s “Open Horizons” program confirms above all that the great talent of filmmakers to reinvent the narrative, stories, cinema itself, is inexhaustible: Short, personal stories become universal parables; tried narrative codes are creatively overturned; true stories take on a cinematic texture; the language of images is renegotiated; the entire world takes on new meaning when seen through the kaleidoscope of cinema. There, nothing seems like what you know, even though everything around you may be the same.
We are at the best point of this familiar, but always exciting journey, at which the films come together with the viewers. This year, this will happen under even harsher conditions, at a time when reality doesn’t leave much room for positive thoughts. However, for those of us who share the passion of cinema, films are not escapism or a way to forget what’s going on around you, but rather a chance to wake up; to tune in with those around you; to draw strength and hope; to rediscover collectivity – whether in the making of a film or in its group viewing.
So let’s do it together. The times we’re living in demand it more than ever. And even if someone may find such an idea excessive, I have no doubt that cinema can help: When you walk out of a movie, everything may be the same. But perhaps you’ve changed. Sometimes, that’s enough.