A group of filmmakers launched FILMKUNSTFEST MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN in the spring of 1990, establishing it as the first new film festival on East German territory after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is held annually during the first week of May in the state capital of Schwerin in Filmpalast Capitol, which boasts six screens, including historic Auditorium 1, one of the most beautiful cinema auditoriums in Germany. Drawing around 18,000 visitors annually – including 200 accredited film industry professionals such as filmmakers, actors, producers and journalists – with roughly 150 feature films, documentaries and shorts, FILMKUNSTFEST MV is one of the biggest public festivals in eastern Germany.
FILMKUNSTFEST MV organises four competitions, one respectively for feature films, documentaries, films for children and young audiences and short films. Films produced or co-produced in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are eligible for the competitions. Films that are not available in a German version must have German subtitles.
Professional juries of film experts and a jury of young people confer the awards. The festival's cinematic programme also features a guest of honour tribute, current films from a guest country, the Focus Baltic Sea section with productions from the Baltic Sea region, a section on DEFA film history and the series "Gedreht in MV" (Shot in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania). Concerts, readings and exhibitions round out the festival programme.
Schwerin is the capital of the German state Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. It has a population of roughly 100,000 and is located in one of Germany's most beautiful and sparsely populated regions. A plethora of historic buildings and cultural monuments, such as Schwerin's picturesque island castle with its magnificent gardens, the city's seven lakes as well as its GDR history, make Schwerin a place of impressive architectural beauty and natural landscapes. What's more, the Baltic Sea is just a short distance away, as the gull flies.
FILMKUNSTFEST MV's honorary award: the Golden Ox (der goldene Ochse)
The festival's organisers confer the honorary Golden Ox award for outstanding contributions to German cinematic culture. The organisers and the festival's patron, the minister-president of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, present it at the awards ceremony.
Feature film competition awards
FILMKUNSTFEST MV in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania's capital city of Schwerin is considered one of the most important film festivals for up-and-coming German-language filmmakers. Ten productions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland vie for the festival's top prize in the feature film competition, the Flying Ox (der fliegende Ochse), and seven other awards.
The Flying Ox is the grand prize in the FILMKUNSTFEST MV feature film competition. The Mecklenburg-West Pomerania State Chancellery endows the award with 10,000 euros in prize money.
The NDR Director's Award goes to a feature film director and is endowed with 5,000 euros in prize money by regional radio and television broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
The DEFA award for up-and-coming talents promotes young German filmmakers, directors and screenwriters whose work has made an innovative contribution to how film engages with the present day. It is endowed with 4,000 euros in prize money and is awarded by the DEFA Foundation in Berlin.
LOTTO Mecklenburg-West Pomerania endows the award for best dramatic performance in a feature film with 3,500 euro in prize money.
The Stadtwerke Schwerin endow the award for the best up-and-coming actor with 2,500 euros in prize money.
After the feature films have been screened audiences are given assessment cards to vote on the film entries. At the end of the competition the film with the highest rating is determined. The regional newspaper Schweriner Volkszeitung endows the audience award with a prize of 2,500 euros.
The award from German-speaking members of FIPRESCI (the International Federation of Film Critics) has been conferred by a jury since 2011 and includes no prize money. It is awarded by three members of the International Federation of Film Critics who are generally from German-speaking countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The award for best documentary in competition is endowed with a 5,000 euro prize from Sparkasse Mecklenburg-Schwerin. A three-person jury of experts awards the prize, which was first given in 2014.
Sparkasse Mecklenburg-Schwerin also endows the award for the best cinematography in a documentary in competition with a prize of 2,500 euros.
The City of Schwerin endows the award for the best short film in competition with 4,000 euros in prize money. A three-member expert jury confers the award.
The award for the best film for children and young audiences in competition has been conferred since 2018 and is endowed by the City of Schwerin with 2,500 euros in prize money. A jury of children and young people from Schwerin award the prize; the jury is to include children and young people from immigrant families.
Furthermore, FILMLAND MV, the City of Schwerin, the Evangelical youth organisation and further partners are committed to encouraging the participation of children and young people from socially disadvantaged families for whom it is nearly impossible to visit the festival. A second screening location in the Campus am Turm civic centre is intended to provide a place to overcome barriers and allow these children and young people to participate in the festival.
The WIR Diversity Award is given to a film entry from across the festival programme, so expressly not solely to entries in the competitions. Supporters of the initiative WIR. Erfolg braucht Vielfalt (WE. Success requires diversity) select the award-winning film. This non-partisan, non-denominational, cross-societal initiative promotes "a free, democratic and cosmopolitan Mecklenburg-West Pomerania based on mutual respect and understanding".
Traditionally, at the FILMKUNSTFEST MV's opening ceremony, scholarships are awarded to screenwriters whose screenwriting talents warrant encouragement. The festival management and Künstlerhaus Lukas in Ahrenshoop select suitable candidates in the run-up to the festival. Every year a 1,000-euro honorary scholarship with a writing residence at Künstlerhaus Lukas is awarded, usually to an experienced screenwriter. In addition, a scholarship for young screenwriters is awarded which also includes the opportunity to do a writing residence in Künstlerhaus Lukas and to receive scholarship money.
The scholarships are primarily funded by the Ministry of Science, Culture, Federal and European Affairs and in part by Künstlerhaus Ahrenshoop e.V.
The winning films from the short film night receive an award and an official certificate with no set prize money; however, where applicable, they may receive prize money donated by sponsors. The award-winners will be determined at the end of the event via an on-site audience vote.