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The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, one of the oldest and most renowned film festivals in the world and in the course of more than five decades, it has become one of the world's most respected film events - a place where filmmakers and artists such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Roman Polanski, Alexander Kluge and Werner Herzog, and more recently Ulrike Ottinger, Romuald Karmakar, Pipilotti Rist, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and François Ozon have presented their first films.
The Festival continues its tradition of launching up and coming filmmakers and setting trends - whether it's the early recognition of short videos, the support of music videos, the exploration of new digital formats or its openness for the interaction between art and the short form.
Due to its unconventional view of short film, the Festival has always been very successful in resisting being pinned down to a certain image. It has nevertheless managed to instigate various political and aesthetical developments, for instance through the Oberhausener Manifest, perhaps the most important group document in the history of German film. Careful programming and a pioneering choice of subjects has helped the Festival to build up its exclusive position in an increasingly unpredictable market.
Oberhausen has always been flexible in dealing with political and aesthetic change, choosing its own standard of quality against which the "short idea on celluloid" is to be measured. A film isn't selected in Oberhausen simply for being well produced. A work must always be judged against its own claim of being something new - regardless of genre, production quality and budget. The decisive factor is a film's position vis-à-vis social reality, cultural differences and aesthetic innovation.
Oberhausen presents far more than a mere medley of current short productions. One of the most outstanding features of the Festival is the meticulousness with which its program is compiled. Individual works are thus brought into relation to one another, ideas and trends are elaborated and interaction rendered possible, leading to a refreshingly new short film experience. In an age of increasingly blurred boundaries between experimental film and art installation, short video and media art, celluloic and bits, Oberhausen is looking for the short film where it is today: in museums, galleries, on the Internet, on television, and of course, in the cinema.
The four competitions, featuring some 140 new films and videos from all around the world attract television program editors as well as curators, festival representatives and journalists. The main award at the festival is the 7,500 € Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen that goes to the winner of the International Competition. International candidates also vie for other prizes, such as the ARTE Award for a European short film, with 2,500 € in prize money. German entries have a chance to be chosen as best entry in the German Competition (5,000 €) or to capture the 3sat Promotional Award, along with 2,500 €, for a work that shows viewers a new way of looking at things.
Furthermore, in cooperation with its media partners, ARTE, 3sat, Ki.Ka (the children´s channel of ARD and ZDF) and INTRO, the Festival has helped to open up new audiences for short films. In their short film programs, ARTE and 3sat have been cooperating with the Festival for years, while in 2001 MTV televised 25 short films from the programs of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
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