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Short Steps Preisträger Michael Dämmig
© Florien Liedel/FIRST STEPS AWARDS 2023

ifs graduation film honored with FIRST STEPS Award 2023 film prize

Graduation film »Bloom« wins young talent award in the Short Steps category

The graduation film »Bloom« (director / animation: Michael Dämmig, VFX: Philipp Kaufhold, production: Luisa Beuschlein, DoP: Pasindu Goldmann, sound design: Marius Schaaf) of the ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln won this year's FIRST STEPS Award in the category Short Steps yesterday. The prize is endowed with 5,000 euros. The nomination already included prize money of 1,000 euros.
The film music for the animated film was composed by Fabian Zeidler, MA Film Music student at the Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf.
With the new Short Steps category, FIRST STEPS is broadening the scope of creative work. Entries are open to creative formats up to 7 minutes, including commercials, music videos, social spots, web formats, fictional and documentary works, and animations.

In the animated film »Bloom«, Karl is different from the other trees in the jungle. He bears no fruit, is smaller and has grown crooked. When a falling mango opens up an unexpected opportunity for him, he has to decide who he actually wants to be.

The jury's verdict: »[...] BLOOM uses a metaphor-rich visual world to pose questions about the interpersonal, the essential - and convinces with its expressiveness, the liveliness of the narrative and the sophisticatedly designed characters, who make it easy to sympathize and feel. Michael Dämmig has succeeded in creating a self-contained and technically impressive world in which the tension is constantly present. [...] Especially in times of global crises, where social coexistence is constantly challenged and the question of justice and responsibility arise, an animated film like BLOOM appears as a ray of hope, which puts the warm and human in the center and stands for the common, indulgent and benevolent. BLOOM is a mirror for us all.«

»The work on the film really took a lot out of me, which is why I'm all the more pleased now that the film is getting such an appreciation. The award is an enormous confirmation for me that my stories want to be seen and that I should not give up even in difficult times.« says director Michael Dämmig.

Another ifs graduation film, »El Mártir« (Director: Alejandro Mathé, Screenplay: Alejandro Mathé, Jose Alberto Arias Pereira, Production: Anna Weber, Cinematography: Zoé Dumas, Production Design: Luca Wirtz, Editing & Sound Design: Leo Muheim) was nominated for the award in the category medium-length feature film.
In addition, DoP and ifs graduate Zoé Dumas was nominated for the Michael-Ballhaus-Award for Camera Graduates for her camera work on »El Mártir«.

The FIRST STEPS award for young filmmakers was presented yesterday evening at a gala at the Stage Theater des Westens. It is the most important award for graduating films from film schools in German-speaking countries. With a total of 131,000 euros, it is the highest endowed prize for young filmmakers and this year, for the first time, will be awarded in ten prize categories. This year, 219 submissions were accepted.

In 1999, it was launched as a private initiative of the film industry by producers Bernd Eichinger and Nico Hofmann. It is organized by the Deutsche Filmakademie e.V. in partnership with Amazon Studios, ARD, Seven.One Entertainment Group, Studio Hamburg, UFA and Warner Bros, Discovery to promote young filmmakers sustainably and effectively.

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