The 70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen opens on 1 May 2024

70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, 1-6 May 2024


The 70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen opens on 1 May 2024

Kicking off with the conference "Longing for Freedom from Contradiction"


The 70th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen will open on Wednesday, 1 May 2024. It will kick off at 1 p.m. with the conference "Longing for Freedom from Contradiction." Among others, Bazon Brock, Andreas Hoffmann (documenta), writer Ronya Othmann, festival director Lars Henrik Gass and sociologist Alexandra Schauer will discuss the political situation of cultural organisations today, in particular with regard to anti-Semitism in culture. The official opening ceremony will take place at 7.30 p.m. at the Lichtburg Filmpalast Oberhausen.


Speaking at the opening:

Daniel Schranz, Lord Mayor of the City of Oberhausen

Ina Brandes, Minister for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Andreas Görgen, Head of Office of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media


The film programmes of the 70th edition

The focus of this year's Festival is on sports films with a Theme programme of historical sports films from 1924 to the 21st century. This year’s Profiles, showcases of works by outstanding filmmakers and artists, are dedicated to the Finnish conceptual artist Mox Mäkelä, the Slovenian filmmaker Davorin Marc, the American filmmaker Abraham Ravett and the Filipino filmmaker, musician and author John Torres. From 2 to 5 May, a series of discussions entitled "Why festivals?" will examine the social, financial and aesthetic perspectives for film festivals today.


Until 6 May, Oberhausen will be showing around 450 films over six days. 117 entries have been selected for its five competitions, in which over 40,000 euros in prize money will be awarded. The Festival will also show over 300 other short works in its curated programmes. Oberhausen is expecting almost 900 accredited industry visitors from around 60 countries at its anniversary edition.


Solidarity with the Festival

In light of a campaign launched by activists following the festival director's appeal to attend a solidarity rally for the Israeli people after the terrorist attack by the militant Islamist Hamas in October 2023, politicians and artists have expressed their solidarity with the Festival on the occasion of its opening:


Walid Nakschbandi, CEO of the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW:

"In the 70 years of its history, Oberhausen has always been open to new ideas and has provided many cinematic and political impulses. The Festival’s contribution to the international standing of North Rhine-Westphalia as a media region can hardly be overestimated. The Oberhausen Festival has always stood for taking a political stance, under its founder Hilmar Hoffmann as well as under Lars Henrik Gass. Anti-Semitic campaigns attack precisely this openness. The Film- und Medienstiftung honours the festival director's clear stance. With this in mind, I wish Mr Gass and his team, who have realised an anniversary festival under difficult conditions, a successful 2024 edition!"


Felix Klein, Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism:

"One area in which anti-Semitism has been particularly evident in the recent past is the arts and cultural sector. We remember Documenta 15, where anti-Semitic representations were exhibited as a supposed perspective of the Global South. Not so long ago, there was a Berlinale closing gala at which anti-Israel attitudes were displayed openly and left unchallenged.

Yet it is art and culture in particular that fulfil such an important and fundamental function for the cohesion of society: they create places for reflection on social developments and are a source of inspiration for new ideas. Art and culture are fundamental building blocks of open and democratic societies – even and especially in times of crisis and polarisation.

Cultural professionals do not live up to this claim through anti-Semitic actions and calls for boycotts. That is why the courageous and bold actions of Mr. Gass and his festival are so important, especially in these times, and deserve every support."


Daniel Schranz, Lord Mayor of the City of Oberhausen:

"The City of Oberhausen consistently opposes all forms of anti-Semitism. It condemns the campaign against the International Short Film Festival and its director Lars Henrik Gass. As Lord Mayor of this city, I find it unacceptable that people who show empathy towards the victims of the brutal massacre in Israel on 7 October and take a stand against anti-Semitism are defamed by anonymously controlled campaigns. I consider this to be a brutalisation of social debate. Anti-Semitism is not an opinion, but a form of discrimination. We oppose any aggression towards Jewish, Israeli and anti-Semitic individuals.

We are committed to education and awareness-raising and to this end provide a comprehensive programme of events in our Memorial Hall, among others. This festival was founded in the spirit of exchange and international understanding, which is expressed in the former motto ‘Way to the Neighbour’. We continue to cultivate this spirit in and with the city of Oberhausen, and our attitude towards anti-Semitism does not, of course, mean that we do not see the terrible suffering that the war resulting from the Hamas attack has brought upon the Palestinian civilians in Gaza."


Jeanine Meerapfel, President of the Berlin Academy of the Arts:

"Since it was founded in 1954 (as the ‘West German Cultural Film Festival’), Oberhausen has taken its educational mission seriously, the festival has become internationalised, and it has advanced the cultural-political and film-aesthetic discourse. The Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962 has inspired countless filmmakers and encouraged them to make more films – even if it is difficult – including me. And even today, the festival is one of the most important platforms for formal and socio-political discussions in the field of film.

The fact that the Festival has been able to survive and develop over the decades is thanks to the ongoing commitment of its directors. You [Lars Henrik Gass] have been running this festival with enthusiasm and courage for 27 years and have not shied away from controversial discussions.”


The Oberhausen initiative ES REICHT! Oberhausen solidarisch gegen Rechts also called for solidarity with the Festival on 26 April. "We are very grateful to the organisers of the Festival that they have neither caved in to anti-Semitic pressure nor simply cancelled the festival. Now it is important not to leave the Festival alone with these anti-Semitic threats. We appeal to all anti-fascist and democratic-civil society groups and actors to show solidarity with the Festival!"


Oberhausen, 30 April 2024

Press contact: Sabine Niewalda, T +49 (0)208 825-3073, niewalda(at)