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15th Hamburg Film Festival (Sep. 27 – Oct. 4, 2007)
On the Racecourse
by Esfandyar Rasouli

Hamburg Film Festival is growing like a robust tree; either through adding new sections, or in terms of accessory programs. Albert Wiederspiel, the festival manager announced that participation at the festival has increased by 30 percent during the current year and maintained that Hamburg is one of the biggest film festivals in Germany. More than 30 small and big companies support the festival which imparts an air of happiness and vivacity to the whole city. Inaugural formalities including the red carpet ceremony and appearance of German and international film stars in their posh limousines who pose for a photograph proves that Hamburg is planning to compete with other big festivals of its kind. Albert Wiederspiel pays attention to every detail from reception given to the guests to quality and quantity of participating films. He is omnipresent and leads the festival quite powerfully. Kathrin Kohlstedde, official in charge of Hamburg Film Festival’s schedule is a regular visitor to Tehran during Fajr International Film Festival to choose Iranian films.

Last year, Iran was represented by Asghar Farhadi’s Fireworks Wednesday as well as by Tahmineh Milani and Mahnaz Afshar who took part with Cease-Fire. During the current year, the sole Iranian film of the festival was Sirous Hassanpour’s Kobra’s Entscheidung. Two other films made by Iranian directors, had been actually produced in other countries and included The Empire of Evil (Mohammad Farrokhmanesh) from Germany and Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud) from France.

The opening film was Odette Toulemonde (Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt), a co-production by France and Belgium. It was a warm movie. Odette is the lovely clerk of a big store and is infatuated with the works of a well-known writer called Balthasar Balsan. Balsan’s novels enliven her and make her very happy. When Odette it waiting for Balsan to put his autograph on her book, an emotional relationship develops between them. Balsan is now part of Odette’s family who lives with her son and daughter. When Balsan tells Odette that he loves her, she helps him to reconcile with his former wife and start a new life with her. Catherine Frot appears in excellent shape as Odette in this romantic comedy. Before the film was screened, a trio played satirical musical pieces which enraptured the audience. The group came from France, but spoke English...
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