Programme director, Film Festival Cottbus

It’s hard to find the right words now. We measure our hopes and fears in waves as politics moves on sight. The borders – closed. The economy – severely damaged. The souls – already wounded. The minds – between fear, anger and hope. The future – for the time being only limited predictable. We stare, like the rabbit in front of the snake, at the push mails with the Corona News. Fearfully we register numbers of the newly-infected, read about fatigue and heart muscle disorders, Remdesivir and Sputnik-V, look doubtfully at partygoers who deny the existence of Corona. They point to Sweden – it‘s not all that bad – but ignore the old people and so-called “risk groups“ who have been hiding away in their homes since March, with limited social contacts.

Yet, every film festival seems somehow out of time. With protagonists who do not adhere to the rules of distance. Heroes without masks. Slackers who wander the streets in far too large groups. It had been nice times. But a coming-of-age cinema experience like “Cocoon“ or “FOMO“ is not just a nostalgic look at a time that was suddenly over. Just like the other titles from this year’s competition programmes, they remind us that the other themes still exist, that the discourse about how we shape social interaction is becoming even more important. Nowadays, people talk so often about systemically relevant and non-systemically relevant industries. At first glance, culture and cinema do not belong to them. Yet it is precisely when existential fears and scenarios of displacement deepen social cleavages in the “new normality“ that culture has a role to play in addressing these issues. To make us talk about the gaps between young and old, cultivated and robust, artificial worlds and real life. To think about how we can overcome boundaries and take responsibility for ourselves and the big everything. To stay healthy, which is what I wish for everyone, we need to be careful. To stay awake, we need the dialogue. Both belong together. Cinema and culture help.