5th EMFF - November 20th-22th, 2014. Husum/Hüsem, North Frisia

Y Syrcas is the winner of the 5th European Minority Film Award!



Goejûn! Liiw fölkjens!

Myn namme is Onno Falkena en ik kom út Huzum yn Fryslân, Huzum mei in z om krekt te wêzen. It bliuwt machtich moai om nei in reis fan hast 500 km oan te kommen yn Husum mei in s (Hüsem) Nordfraschlönj, en dêr minsken te treffen mei likefolle niget oan minderheidstalen en oan films yn minderheidstalen.

These were a few phrases in West-Frisian, I will continue in English.

Being a minority is not always easy. According to several recent academic publications only minority languages with an attractive and good presence in the modern media have a fair chance to be still alive and kicking one hundred years from now. Presence in modern media means that you should have apps in your own language. It is necessary to be present on Twitter, Facebook and Google Translate. It is important to have contemporary and good music in your own language and good movies. This conclusion means that the focus of the Friisk Foriining to stimulate culture completely right. Having good movies in minority languages, preferably made by the minorities themselves, is one of the elements that clearly contribute to the vitality of a language.

As the president of the Jury I would like to congratulate the organization of the European Minority Film Festival with your fifth edition. Speaking out of experience I know that it is relatively easy to start a new event in the field of minority languages. It is far more difficult to keep on going , sometimes against all odds, to find the necessary financial support and to keep up the good work. This is precisely what you have been doing and we appreciate that. This is probably one of the smallest Film Festivals of Europe. This, combined with the formula ‘GroBe Filme kleiner Völker’, makes this festival unique. As a token of our appreciation I have a small but symbolic gift for Gary Funck, the organizer of this festival.

The 'G' stands for Gary and also for GroBe Filme kleiner Völker.

Let me introduce the jury of the fifth European Minority Film Festival:

Watching all movies in competition we were looking for movies with a convincing, coherent narrative and authentic characters. Originality, film language, the dramatic development, and the eventual universal value of the movie were other criteria we considered. And, as a Minority Film Festival we also scrutinized the way the languages were being used in the movie and the minority perspective. The last element considers the following question: Is the movie created by the minority themselves and the story told from the minority perspective, or is it a movie about a minority made by the majority from the majority point of view? People who were here two years ago may remember a fierce discussion between Matthias Weiss of the Sinti & Roma and the Czech producer of the movie Cigan about a Roma community in Slovakia. This great movie was made from the majority perspective and therefore did not win the award two years ago.

A movie that very successfully underlines the minority perspective is Nu Hiu Faimos, Ama Hiu Arman / I’m not famous but I’m Aromanian. This movie very clearly shows and teaches the audience that there is an Aromanian minority in the southeast of Europe and where they precisely live. The movie is original and obviously quite effective in reaching its goal: showing the world and especially Romania, Macedonia, Albania and Greece that the Vlachs or Aroumians are alive and kicking and should get the same rights as all other minorities. This movie scores many points for the minority perspective. However, only the minority perspective is not enough to make a good movie with a convincing and coherent narrative, which is also interesting for the outside world. Humor and cultural differences also may be a problem here. Repetition is known as an element, which can make people laugh, if you have the same sense of humor. What may be funny for Romanians, may be not so funny for the audience over here. I’m not famous, but I’m Aromanian is not just a movie, but also a statement and therefore important, but our jury was not able to give this movie many points for the other criteria I mentioned.

Comparing pieces of art like movies is always tricky, especially if you compare low budget productions with movies made with a more professional budget. Matej a kuzlarski klobuk – Matej und der Zauberhut is a Sorbian low budget production. Once again many points for the minority perspective. It is quite original to link the rich background of your own fairytales and fairytale characters to the threat of the Braunkohl industry, which is once again threatening to destroy Sorbian villages. It is quite cynical if you realize that the decision of the German government to end nuclear energy means that the very destructive Tagebau may continue to devastate the Lausitz. Matej und der Zauberhut does not pretend to be Bundesliga. It is what it is, a modern fairytale against a rather grim background, made against all odds, partly with amateur actors, with a very limited budget. Thanks for sharing this with us, Toni Bruk, zjakuje. Your example may well inspire to Northfrisians to try and produce a low budget movie one day.

And now I would like to move to the country which almost became independent, two months ago: Scotland. It was a pleasure to watch the first episodes of Bannan, the ties that Bind. This first Gaelic drama series in a long time touches an important theme; leaving your community for the big city and then coming back. It is a fate of many small communities; talented young people leave for study or work. But even if you take Mari out of Skye, you do not take Skye out of Mari. After the second episode I was hooked and really wanted to see the third one, and now I can hardly wait for number 4, 5 and 6. It is obvious that Bannan was conceived, produced and edited as a drama series for television, and that is what it is. It is family drama, which deserves a big audience, but it is a television production with developing storyline, including cliffhangers, made against the beautiful backdrop of the Isle of Skye. Great television, but something a different league compared to a film.

This left the jury with two potential winners for the Jury Award; Y Syrcas / The Circus from Wales and Larrogei Egunean (Herbstliebe) from the Basque Country. The jury had a very long jury meeting yesterday morning – by far the longest in the history of the Minority Film Festival and I can tell you this: after adding all the points and considering all the criteria things were too close to call, so we entered the cinema again to have a look at both movies from the big screen of the beautiful Kino Center Husum. We liked a lot what we saw:

Larrogei Egunean / Herbstliebe is a movie which really touched me. You see an old couple, having problems to communicate and there is pain in every single telephone call between the mother Axun and daughter Jusone, who lives in America. You believe everything, because you watch the life of real people of flesh and blood, stuck in their traditional but not very happy way of life. But then there is Maite – the Basque word for love. Maite is different. She is independent and unmarried. Axun and Maite meet again by accident and rediscover the feelings they shared as best friends 50 years ago. In Frisian we have an old proverb: op âld iis friest it fûl; with old ice you get strong winters. This means that if you meet a former love: two things may happen; either you cannot imagine why you loved him or her, or the feeling and the passion awakens very fast.

There is both humor and tension in this movie; does Axun really have the courage to chance her life in her seventies? And what about her vulnerable husband, you start to sympathize with him too. A most impressive achievement of directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga and all leading actors. Their display of great understanding of human nature and psychology is of a very high level. It is a movie that almost creeps under your skin. Our compliments.

The movie Y Syrcas is a visual adventure for eyes and soul. Y Syrcas tells the story of the visit of the very first travelling circus to the Welsh countryside in the year 1848. An historic fact, because the village of Tregaron in Ceredigion harbors the grave of an elephant from that very same year. The circus arrives in the village during a funeral and local minister Tomos Ifans hates it immediately. However, his daughter Sara is enchanted by the entirely different world of the circus. Poor Sara, a great role of Saran Morgan, is caught between the religious, strict world of her father and the exotic, adventurous circus. The culture shock is complete when the circus people visit the chapel of father Ifans, applaud to his sermon and accompany the hymns by adding a little rhythm.

There is a touch of magic, a touch of surrealism about this movie. The quality of photography, camerawork, and dressing of the set is outstanding. It is a multilayered, fascinating movie, which tells in an almost compelling way. The jury was captivated by the beauty and the power of this movie and therefore the winner is:

Y Syrcas!

Huzum/Hüsem, 22 November 2014
Miren Aperribay
Elin Fredstedt
Onno Falkena (Head of Jury)