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Fifth Down Under Berlin: “Paradise Unknown”

In 2015 Down Under Berlin turned 5! #highfive  Accordingly, our anniversary edition was held over the course of 5 days, 16-20 September 2015, at Moviemento Kino in Berlin.
We would like to thank everyone who contributed their time and energy to making this festival so much fun! Need proof? Check out the photos!

Last year’s theme was Paradise Unknown, offering wide and inspiring options to explore Australia as well as New Zealand and their reputations as paradise in a different way. Stories about ageing, daily survival, hopes, family, travelling and different lifestyles showed how far and sometimes close they are from the definition of paradise. Der Tagesspiegel, one of Berlin’s leading daily papers, described the 2015 festival program as the continuation of a great display of Australian and New Zealand film. But they weren’t the only ones talking about us!

Partners & Special Guests 2015

We were honoured when the Australian Embassy in Berlin confirmed that they would open our anniversary festival edition for which we had put together a program combining roughly 40 films ranging from independent productions to one of the contestants in the competition for the best foreign language film at the Oscars 2015, experimental student films, creative documentaries and  last but not least a number of special German premiers.

The shift to a stronger focus on New Zealand film also entailed new partnerships. We are really happy to count the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin amongst our newest partners. HE Ambassador Rod Harris joined us for the screening of the closing feature Hip Hop-eration and also gave a welcome speech.

A big thank you goes out to our partner festival, Melbourne’s very own Made in Melbourne Film Festival, which was represented by Ante Malekin who introduced the best shorts of recent festival editions. The Made in Melbourne Film Festival is an exclusive showcase for Melbourne filmmakers. MIM celebrates the desire, drive, and diversity of the local film community by screening the very best films Melbourne has to offer.

You can find a list of all of our partners here.  If you would like more information on how to partner up with Down Under Berlin that page will be a good start.

Audience Awards 2015

The two winning films in 2015 were the documentary Once My Mother (2013) by Sophia Turkiewicz which received the Audience Award and short film Stuffed (2013) by Warwick Young. Stuffed was named best film in the The New Talents Showcase category. The film’s protagonist is Peter, a 40 year old amateur taxidermist who lives with his mother. When she dies he does all he can to keep her with him. Shot on location in Dungog this film tells the moving story of a man trapped in time and the lengths he goes to, to hold on to the past. Watch the trailer at prairiedogfilms.net/stuffed

We were honoured to have producer Rod Freedman introduce Once My Mother. In this very personal documentary Sophia Turkiewicz investigates the circumstances that led to her mother abandoning her in an Adelaide orphanage. She learns about her mother’s wartime escape from a Siberian gulag and  – now in middle age – examines her troubled relationship with her mother and discovers the story behind the miraculous wartime escape from a Siberian gulag, her subsequent survival against the odds and the truth about an historic betrayal involving Stalin and the Allies. To find out more go to oncemymother.com.au

Video Messages & Birthday Wishes 2015

Given how far away Berlin is from Down Under we often show video messages by our film makers just before we screen their film. That way they get to introduce their own films and say hi to the audience. You can find one such video below. It is an intro by Natalie Cunningham and Ror Akot to the documentary ROR (2013) which we screened at our closing night in 2015. And soon you will be able to see more videos like that on our YouTube channel.