"People want to go to the movies again" - Braunschweig International Film Festival (BIFF) 2022 with positive audience trend and polarizing works

Seven days of programming, around 170 guests from the industry, a total of 246 films and numerous special events at various venues in the city and region: The Braunschweig International Film Festival (BIFF) draws a positive conclusion to this year's edition. With around 20,000 visitors, significantly more people came to the cinemas than last year.

Exhausted but happy, the association Internationales Filmfest Braunschweig e. V. looks back on the past festival week. "This year's edition showed one thing in particular," says chairman Thorsten Rinke, "people want to go to the movies again." And he confirms: "Both in the audience numbers and in the feedback of the guests it became clear that there is a great need to exchange again on site with film enthusiasts, to celebrate together the cinema experience and also to enter into dialogue with exciting filmmakers, actors & co." The signal is clear: it's about real interaction, the interpersonal encounter.

This message, meanwhile, can even be seen in the Braunschweig festival's online platform, which made some of this year's films digitally accessible. Says Rinke: "Here we've noticed the same thing as in the industry as a whole: the trend is downward." Hybrid festivals allow decentralized access for new target groups, but overall, he says, people are flocking to venues again. Whether it was ASTOR Filmtheater, Universum Filmtheater, Staatstheater Braunschweig, LOT-Theater, Roter Saal or even St. Michaeliskirche: the seven days of the festival not only featured a diverse program, but also an exciting selection of venues.Gauerhof: „Filme müssen auch polarisieren.“

Speaking of diverse programming. Karina Gauerhof, festival director responsible for the program, explains: "The audience has given us a big thank-you for the multifaceted program. Works like the German entry in the main competition PIAFFE or KILLING THE EUNUCH KHAN have polarized - but that's what a film festival is all about. The point is to also include more experimental formats that challenge us a bit and at the same time give us new impulses. The traditional focus of our festival on young European cinema, also earned a lot of approval." He added that the good response to the film selection greatly encouraged the festival team in its curation. "Nevertheless, the special events, such as the panel discussions, were in good demand," Gauerhof said. "We were able to make visible trades in the industry that are otherwise rather underrepresented, be it caster:ing or editor:ing." It's already clear: "We will definitely continue such formats in the future."

The fact that it is about the encounter in the film industry and also about the exchange with the viewers is also underlined by the Filmfest chairwoman Florence Houdin. She says: "It was so nice to be able to see long-time film guests from Germany, France and many other countries again. Reuniting with longtime audience:members and meeting new guests also contributed to an exhilarating atmosphere." Even the start of the BIFF week went well, he said: "For two days after, people were still talking about the SAFETY LAST! film concert in the city." Festival director for organization Anke Hagenbüchner-Sobiech adds, "Already on Tuesday, the first events were sold out - this positive development gave us a great boost."


Further cooperation in the city and region

In view of the summary of this year's festival, the organizing film festival association has already formulated the "challenges" for the coming years. Hagenbüchner-Sobiech: "We want and need to be even more visible in the city's life all year round with formats and cooperations. We're already well on the way there - and we have even more plans." In this context, new target groups are also to be addressed. On this path, the close and constant cooperation with the longstanding and new sponsors is crucial, he said. "We are grateful that the sponsors and supporters stand behind us even in these really challenging times. That gives us optimism, confidence and, above all, planning security." The common tenor is clear: festivals are cultural assets.