under:standing the Scouting – In search of films for the 53rd sehsüchte Edition

Each year, Sehsüchte reshapes itself, constantly evolving and progressing. The fact is: the festival practically reinvents itself with every edition. In this blog post, we want to prove that the reinvention is more than mere assumption by delving into one aspect of the festival’s curatorial efforts.

An international student film festival truly deserves its title “international” only when it can consistently curate a continuous transnational film programme. Like our motto this year, under:standing, this expectation comes not only from the audience, but also from our team.

If there’s one thing we want, it’s to provide a festival programme that offers insights to different realities of life, various experiences and topics. Films from all over the world ought to captivate both us and the audience, and encourage dialogue about the experiences they portray.

Being able to showcase as many countries as possible brings challenges that require proactive effort since not every country automatically submits films to our platform. We must actively identify gaps in already existing scouting data and encourage new filmmakers to share their work. To gain insight into submission trends, we analyse data from previous Sehsüchte editions prior to announcing our Call for Entries.

As expected, many of the submissions came from Europe, mostly from Germany, Spain and France. Nevertheless, the submissions did not cover the entirety of Europe – Scandinavian filmmakers, for example, submitted very few films this year. Thousands of kilometres to the east, films from countries such as Afghanistan have also not reached us in recent years. On the other hand, young South American filmmakers have a better grasp of Sehsüchte and submit more films every year. However, the African continent has been a very, very large blind spot in recent editions.

All production countries of this year’s festival submissions at a glance.

Some of the blind spots are proving to be complexer than others and in some cases cannot be solved easily and even not pragmatically. We often hit dead ends when, for example, regions have insufficient digital infrastructure, making contact even more difficult in addition to possible language barriers. Finally, it’s important to recognize that in some regions outside of Europe, there aren’t as many film universities, schools, or institutions. Filmmaking remains a craft that is often linked to many privileges. This also applies when it comes to submitting works to film festivals. 

However, these behind-the-scenes circumstances do not imply a lack of progress in Sehsüchte’s international expansion this year. On the contrary, the opposite is true.

Our additional efforts were clearly noticeable. Through newly arranged and self-researched connections, we received almost 1100 submissions being recorded this year. That’s over 100 films more than in 2023. In total, a wide variety of filmmakers from 89 production countries submitted their works to us. This is an increase of almost 30% compared to the previous 52nd edition of the festival. In the main programme alone, we are showing 69 films from 35 production countries.

Thanks to Weltfilme e. V., films from Sierra Leone, for example from Rwanda and Togo, have been made available to us. One of them, “Sisters”, is competing in the official documentary film competition (the film can be seen on Friday 26 April at 12:00 in the film block tight:bonds). In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, we are focusing on Afghanistan with a special film block “Blinks of Afghanistan”, which will be screened on Friday 26 April at 13:30 to 15:30.

These are just two of many examples of how we have now been able to successfully organise the 53rd festival edition. Now, there are fewer blind spots on the map and more connections for future generations of the main programme team, in order to help them create a more diverse festival programme for yourself is to visit us at the Potsdamer Waschhaus from 25.04. to 28.04! We look forward to seeing you there!