The idea for a filmfest arose amongst local filmmakers, namely Ilona Rieke of Filmbüro Bremen e.V. and Matthias Greving of the production company Kinescope Film, during their collaborative work. Both agreed that Bremen with it’s already existing infrastructure and audiences was the ideal location for a festival of this kind. Besides the established network amongst filmmakers, what Bremen needed was a filmfest to provide local productions with an appropriate platform to be presented to the public, to start a dialogue and to broaden the network in the film production and media scene.
Out of this thought a 24h screening was the initiation for a first FILMFEST in 2015, where only films with relation to Bremen were shown in the Cinemaxx at Breitenweg.
In the following years the festival program became longer, adding one day at a time, with a steady growth in KLAPPE! short films, and with an ever growing audience number the festival moved to the art house theaters. The forth FILMFEST then opened up to international submissions with the new categories INNOVATION and HUMOR/SATIRE.
The Filmfest Bremen took place for the seventh time in April 2022 and featured a range of international and regional competitions. At the heart of the contests were the Humour/Satire and Innovation categories. The festival was unique in Germany with films from more than 38 countries as well as the contest for the audience awards for the best films from Bremen and region. The focus category showed international productions of a specific thematic field. In 2022, the focus was on sustainability.
In addition, for the first time, there was a retrospective for the winner of the Bremer Filmpreis which is awarded during the festival for special comedic works and achievements. In 2019, it went to director and Oscar winner Caroline Link, in 2020 to Hape Kerkeling and in 2022 to Aki Kaurismäki.
In the short film section, Filmfest Bremen presented several special formats: The 48 hours short film competition Klappe!, the cine film competition St-8 of the Art as well as the interdisciplinary experiment Super-8 Expanded where silent film, live music, spoken word and performance meet.
Since its inception, it has been important for the Filmfest to make Bremen visible as a film city and production location, to act as a networking platform, and to inspire filmmakers and audiences alike. The festival sees itself as a media innovation laboratory and stage for German and international film art and entertainment. The prizes are awarded by annually changing jury panels, which in recent years have already included renowned filmmakers as diverse as Milan Peschel, Pola Beck, Petra Nadolny, Burhan Qurbani, Ruth Thoma, Johanna Wokalek Sky du Mont.