The Luxembourg City Film Festival opened its 12th annual festival yesterday evening, Thursday 3 March 2022, at Kinepolis-Kirchberg.
The 11-day festival is fully in-person this year, with no online screenings at all, unlike last year's festival in which all films were available on a digital platform.
Salle 10, with a capacity of 459, was full to capacity for the Opening Screening; the festival this year is being held under CovidCheck regulations, with the festival organisers and cinema chain confirming just before the start of the festival that, for the first time since physical distancing was introduced in screening rooms, all seats could now be occupied. Festival-goers / cinema-goers still have to wear masks in the complex but can remove them when seated.
The Opening Screening was held in the presence of two government ministers, Sam Tanson, Luxembourg's Minister for Culture, and Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister for the Economy, as well as other dignitaries are foreign visitors, including from other European Film Festivals such as the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland.
Gladys Lazareff, CEO at the Luxembourg City Film Festival, started off with the formal part of the evening and introduced and thanked the sponsors and partners.
Georges Santer, President of the Luxembourg City Film Festival, spoke at length, starting off by stating that this event is the first European film festival of the year, as well as this being the 3rd edition of the festival being held within the pandemic. The most part of his prepared speech has devoted to the war in Ukraine, referencing World Wars in the process, as well as last year's winning film "Quo vadis, Aida?" which addressed the issue of refugees. He also talked about the withdrawal of Russian films from the festival line-up, including "Gerda" from the Official Competition. He did attract the attention of one heckler but asked politely to be allowed to continue.
Minister Sam Tanson spoke about the pandemic and the return to normality; her speech too was mostly about the war in Ukraine, She read out letters regarding the spread of Russian propaganda and distortion of facts which was taken into account when deciding to remove the Russian films from the festival programme. In that context she thanked Alexis Juncosa, Artistic Director, and Gladys Lazareff, CEO, for being flexible in their approach.
Lydie Polfer, Luxembourg city's mayor, possibly sensing that previous speeches had been longer than many anticipated, spoke eloquently and without notes, briefly addressing the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, stressing solidarity with Ukraine, and she also addressed about the artistic programme.
A presentation was made honouring Collette Flesch, the former president of the festival, by the current president, Georges Santer, also including Minister Sam Tanson and Mayor Lydie Polfer.
Glady Lazareff and Alexis Juncosa presented the juries (youth; press; VR; official; documentary; international - including samples of the latter's work), and members of Europa international (association of European film festivals) who were in attendance.
The official speeches out of the way, after over an hour, the opening screening "Official Competition" was screened. A Spanish comedy (with EN sub-titles) starring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez then lightened the mood, with an official reception afterwards for the invited guests.
For full details of the festival, including all screenings and other events, see https://www.luxfilmfest.lu.