BERLIN — The curtain on the Hamburg Film Festival went up Thursday with a 140-pic program focusing on the city’s role as one of Europe’s most important points of departure for 19th and 20th century emigrants.
More than five million emigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe passed through Hamburg between 1850 and 1934, more than 80% of whom were headed for the U.S.
“Gateway to a Thousand Worlds” is the motto of this year’s festival. This coincides with the opening recently of a museum and exhibition center, the BallinStadt Emigration World Hamburg, which does not hide the fact that many emigrants were treated badly on their way out of Europe by Germany’s second city. Hamburg had feared outbreaks of disease and put tight restrictions on the emigrants.
One section, called Focus Migration — Films Out of Suitcases, will focus on personal stories of the migration.
The fest will also present the Douglas Sirk award, named after Hamburg’s most prestigious film emigrant, to David Cronenberg on Sept. 28. Sirk was born in Hamburg to Danish parents and was a well-known filmmaker in Germany before leaving to France and then Hollywood in 1937.
Fest runs Sept 27-Oct. 4.