Traditionally, and once again this year, you have drawn your selection from a huge number of submitted films – around 2,500 this time. How do you find your bearings in this process?
It helps a lot that, as a section, we know our audience very well. The demographics for the Kplus competition, formed in 2007 from what was previously the Kinderfilmfest, are just as familiar to us as those for our 14plus programme. Since the age recommendations for the films are largely set by us, this is invaluable. The recommendations are open and have no upper limit, so as wide an audience as possible can be covered. Naturally, we always focus on the respective target-age groups and we often find parallels between the perspectives of the main characters and the audience.
The films often tell their stories through the eyes of their young protagonists: a child can see themselves and their own problems, joys and wishes, or those of someone the same age as them in a different culture or political situation. But the works simultaneously hold up a mirror to the adult world and reveal its dysfunctions. In this way, the films we screen are not only eminently suitable for young people but for adult audiences as well – and for young adult audiences.
It is striking that there is a wide variety of decidedly female perspectives in the selection, from both in front of and behind the camera. Which factors especially stand out in this regard?
You’re right, female perspectives are strongly represented, particularly in the 14plus programme. Overall, with regards to the filmmakers, we are at a rate of about 53 percent female.
Many of the stories are told from the point of view of young female protagonists in complex situations who are forced to make decisions that will radically change their lives. They are characters who are about to pass a point of no return. These girls and young women find themselves in circumstances that are unjust, dangerous and seem to be almost unbearable emotionally – and they react to them, often with drastic consequences.
A good example is The Red Phallus, directed by Tashi Gyeltshen, a film with an almost documentary quality, set in Bhutan with a cast of non-professional actors. It focuses on a young woman whose father makes wooden phalluses, a highly prestigious job which places him at the top level of the village pecking order. The film depicts a very patriarchal society. The young woman is subordinate to the structures in which she has grown up and suffers from that. Without wanting to give away too many spoilers: at the end of the film – and it takes a long, long time for her to get to this point – she makes a decision, in a way that is very decisive and energetic and, not to put too fine a point on it, shocking.