We are happy about a great interim balance

After the first five days, i.e. halfway through our festival, we can draw an extremely positive interim balance. In Mannheim and Heidelberg, the two venues of the IFFMH, there is a bustling, stimulating and exuberant festival atmosphere. To our great delight, in addition to the screenings of the films, panel discussions, receptions and premiere parties are once again possible on a larger scale.

A first highlight was the voguing event last Friday, a performance by "Grace the Floor", a dance group from the queer ballroom scene in Mannheim. It literally made the cinema hall shake. The audience, including some of you, was enthusiastic and gave a thunderous applause. This was followed at the weekend by the atmospheric presentation of our Grand IFFMH Award to the French screenwriter and director Alice Winocour. The honouree was visibly moved and spoke in her acceptance speech about the personal experiences behind the story of her film ›Paris Memories‹, which was shown here as a German premiere. In a lively and inspiring discussion with festival director Sascha Keilholz and programme director Frédéric Jaeger, Alice Winocour gave us deep insights into her cinematic roots and her working process.

And that is by no means all. Because in the first days of the festival, numerous other international guests were already with us at the IFFMH. We would like to make a special mention of the Spanish filmmaker, artist and producer Albert Serra. His film 'Pacifiction' was so well received by you that the screenings were repeatedly sold out. Anne-Louise Lambert was also with us. The leading actress from Peter Weir's masterpiece ›Picnic at Hanging Rock‹ travelled to a festival for the first time after a long break with this film that has accompanied her for 47 years. She came all the way from Australia for the IFFMH. In addition, guests from various parts of the world were and are in the cinemas for talks. They have come to Mannheim and Heidelberg from Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Ukraine, Malaysia and South Korea, among others. For us, this is crucial. After all, we see our festival as a place of understanding, especially intercultural understanding.

But we, the IFFMH team, are particularly happy about your keen interest in the festival. It is a great experience that so many of you come to the cinemas. That's what it's all about for us: meeting you, our audience, and bringing you together with the films we have selected and our guests. After the physical advance ticket sales had already doubled compared to last year, the rush at the box office remains great as well. It is also very nice to see that you obviously like all our partner cinemas in Mannheim and Heidelberg, including the recently opened new Karlstorkino in Heidelberg's Südstadt. Accordingly, we have already had a whole series of sold-out screenings in several cinemas at both venues.

After this extremely positive start, our entire team is now looking forward to many more exciting events, screenings and guests, including the homage guest Benoît Debie and director star Gaspar Noé. So please continue to come to the IFFMH in such large numbers. We look forward to seeing you.