Transit Filmfest Regensburg
A volunteer team of students of media studies and film-enthusiastic members of Hör und Schau e. V. presents a best-of of the German and international cinema year beyond the usual programme. The content focus is on innovative, authoritative and controversial productions, while the festival itself remains formally open.
If the word Transit is considered a paradigm for transformation and change, this new name can also be seen as an opportunity for us to rethink conventions, open up new perspectives, and readjust the way we categorise films. Instead of offering a passive experience, cinemas turn into means of transport: conveying and wishing each member of the audience to be someone a little different at the end of their experience, their personal attitudes and beliefs adjusted and challenged in a distinctly personal way.
Transit Filmfest is not about films that are superficially political but is instead about projects which enter new territory in terms of aesthetics, content, and narrative, films which venture onto roads less traveled, existing beyond established mainstream cinema success formulas. We will continue to champion and honour those films and filmmakers who uphold these ideals.
Things can only be diverse and should be diverse. Styles, schools, common goals andlong term stability are not credible ideas.
(Donald Judd, Local History)
Transit as Utopia (Transit as a Destination?)
Following 11 successful years and a change in the festival management, it was decided in 2019 to change the name of Regensburg’s HEIMSPIEL Film festival to TRANSIT FILMFEST. Behind this decision lies the aspiration to recognise and acknowledge the potential of transformation, diversity, transition and instability as a desirable social situation. TRANSIT as UTOPIA: a concept which was to be celebrated for the first time in the November 2020 festival edition.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 turned this concept into a bitter reality – not in the form of transformation, but as an abrupt breach; not in the sense of change, but as an INTERMISSION – a long pause with all its strange and deadly accompanying symptoms. Where might this lead? After the pandemic, will change and instability still be a feasible, healthy societal model? Will panic about the loss of the status quo, combined with the loss of personal ‘freedom’, force us back to a form of regressive ‘stability’ without solidarity, in which there is no room for the ways many people lives their lives? Or does the crisis actually contain an opportunity for reconsideration and authentic solidarity?
These paradoxes are reflected in the name of our forthcoming festival: TRANSIT20: INTERMISSION_UTOPIA. Combined, these three concepts embody diverse, contradictory forces that we will be analysing in this year’s Festival Intermezzo. That’s why this year’s programme will be extended to include space for discourse, dialogue, thinking and knowledge. There is much to discuss in 2020, not only about cinema and films, but about their place and function in the new world which is busy taking shape.
Cinema as Utopia
A closed room with heavy fabrics, closely packed seats and a breath-taking atmosphere. Cinema, said Pedro Almodóvar, can fill the loneliness and emptiness in our lives. What could be better than coming together to be carried away to other worlds by the thrill of a movie? Heide Schlüpmann once called cinema a space for utopia and emancipation in which, in early cinema, women first became visible in civil society. But what is to become of this once ideal place which some were already viewing as anachronistic, even before the pandemic? The institution of art house cinema has been lost to a wide audience, and it wasn’t the lockdown that did it. Will the virus, in close collaboration with home cinema and streaming services, deal the coup de grâce to this cultural risk group? Does post-pandemic cinema even stand a chance?
That depends on how we interpret and wish to use it, with all its venerable promises. Cinema is much more than a public extension of the home sofa. Cinema is a place of longing which has something to offer us, not only as a place of immersion, emotion and reflection, but as a hybrid social space for communication and an ongoing exchange about film, history and society.
Looking ahead to form and programme – what we want
TRANSIT FILMFEST doesn’t plan to translate the existing festival structure into a purely online version. But we are very aware that big events may not be able to go ahead, even in autumn. Even if it would be possible to host one from an epidemiological and legal point of view, we don’t want to run the festival in the usual way – and part of that is because of cinema’s economic situation, the extremity of which demands a radical, meaningful and creative response, both practically – depending on the changing situation – and in terms of content.
Historical film series RETRO_UTOPIA
As part of a series of films, we will be looking back on known and lesser-known visions of human coexistence, alternative and diverse lived environments, and future social forms. Aside from cinematic presentation, we are especially interested in questions about the relationship between the contemporary context of cinematic world-designs and their actual significance for the here and now: which utopian and dystopian promises are discussed in film? How have these categories changed, along with the dimensions of wanting, dreaming and desiring – and, not infrequently, taking action? Is there reciprocity between the medium and society, and can conclusions be drawn from it? We want to look back so that, after this long pause, we can look forward.
Weekend edition CINEMA_UTOPIA
Instead of a week-long festival of highlights, this year will see a weekend edition. In terms of the programme, we have our eye on contemporary films that tackle the concepts of utopia and dystopia in the broadest possible sense, and research them immersively and/or informatively in all their emotional, metaphorical, philosophical and socio-political manifestations. And, last but not least, we want our content to show solidarity with the many oppressed voices (not only those of the USA) and help in our own way to improve existing circumstances. We want to be a voice for change.
Panel discussion FORUM_UTOPIA
As part of a series of discussions, we want to include filmmakers, theorists, activists, scientists and other people who are responding to the new reality in which we now live and to which we ourselves must now respond, and not only because of the coronavirus crisis. Can film, cinema and film festivals play a part in this? How can we, as part of a diverse and complex whole, fight for as fair a TRANSIT as possible into a better future? We have to talk.
Digital supporting programme and online screenings
New formats, formal and aesthetic openings into the digital world, virtual Q&As with filmmakers and industry representatives, articles and conversations about our time, about cinema, and of course about films – all this will complete this year’s festival programme. We are also working on additional online screenings to help counteract the hygiene regulations and potential limits on visitor numbers that may still exist in autumn.
All in all, we are remaining true to our credo: nothing is set in stone, everything is in Transit.