“You can’t get more star power than this. For Thursday’s opening of the 11mm Festival, the organizers are leading with a film about no less than one Lionel Messi. The fleet-footed Barcelona forward may not be turning up personally, but “Messi (The Movie)” is the work of Alex de la Iglsia, director of the cult favorite “Perdita Durango,” and former German national defender Arne Friedrich will be in attendance.
The fact that the five-day celebration of the joys of cinema and sports kicks off with big names is an indication of how far 11mm has come since its origins in Berlin’s way-the-hell-off-Broadway alternative culture scene.
“We started in the Kino Central movie house in a back courtyard of the Hackesche Höfe complex and sometimes couldn’t even fill all of its 80 seats,” festival co-director Andreas Leimbach-Niaz recalls. “Now we’re in a large cinema with 400 seats, and events like the opening of our Shortkicks short-film competition are sold out.
“It’s fantastic to see that people remember us from year to year. There are people who travel 400 miles to be here and ask if they can buy a festival pass like at the Berlin Film Festival.”
Yet despite the nearly 50 films that will be screened between now and next Monday, 11mm is still a long way away from Germany’s biggest film events, with its Golden Bears and red carpets. Most of the people involved with 11mm, volunteer their time or work for token wages. Leimbach-Niaz says that the event has grown as far as it can without a major sponsor.
With that in mind, it’s astonishing how wide-ranging the festival is. If moving pictures are a universe unto their own, then football films are at very least a relatively large solar system.”
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