• ON THE RISE is the international competition of the IFFMH. First to third films of outstanding directors compete in it for the official awards of the festival.

ON THE RISE presents a selection of the most exciting films of filmmakers that are currently at the beginning of their career: The programme is diverse and open for different perspectives, genres and styles. The films can be ambivalent or straightforward, work with elements of the genre film, they can be realistic or fantastic, they can follow in the steps of the classic auteur cinema or explore hybrid forms. They all share one common thing: They allow us to catch a glimpse of the future of cinema.

The international competition with its 18 fictional feature films is the core of the festival and continues the IFFMH’s rich tradition as a platform for outstanding directorial talents. The former newcomers of Mannheim-Heidelberg include François Truffaut, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Angela Schanelec, Atom Egoyan, Thomas Vinterberg, Derek Cianfrance, Hong Sang-soo and Guillaume Nicloux.

The films of the competition compete for six awards, selected by four juries and the audience.


  • The new in the established: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES presents the most intriguing films of border-crossing film artists.

The section PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES supplements the competition by putting the spotlight on the films of directors after their first to third works. The selection includes 20 daring fictional feature films which test the limits of the filmic medium and that bring aesthetically and narratively consequent visions on the big screen.

In this way, the section creates continuity: It’s the place where the audience can also follow the career of artists who have already been part of the festival’s programme in a previous edition.


  • New filmic horizons for the young and youngest: The CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL presents international children’s films.

The festival’s extensive history of fostering new talent isn’t just limited to the competition, but also extends to the CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL, which introduces a young audience to the world of cinema and aims to pass on the festival’s fascination for the medium to the next generation. In this section, kids get the opportunity to make their first film experiences and discoveries.

This offer for families spanning ten children's films reflects the clear programmatic line of the festival and offers more than just a film screening for the youngest audiences. Here, together with the educational concept, the contact with the filmmakers is very important: Audiovisual perception is practised in a playful way in workshops and cooperations with schools, attention is trained and the discussion and reflection of film inspired.


  • Selected audiovisual artworks: Installations, concept films, fully completed serial formats.

FACING NEW CHALLENGES presents extraordinary works of art in extraordinary places. It emphasizes new tendencies at the crossroads between film, fine arts and other media.

Concept films and web formats (especially in the close range of the experimental) as well as installations in the mold of examples like Julian Rosefeldt, Steve McQueen, Hito Steyerl or the late Harun Farocki: Through the synergy between works of art and venues like the Kunsthalle Mannheim and the Heidelberger Kunstverein, the audience is stimulated to reflect the relationship of film to the other arts.


  • They too were once newcomers: The IFFMH celebrates cinema in all its different facets and enables rediscoveries by honouring a female and a male personality of the film industry.

Everything new is created in the context of film history written by predecessors. The accomplishments of two outstanding filmmakers, masters of their craft, who have written history, will be honoured by the IFFMH with an homage. Both laureates allow insight into their work and deepen them in discussions with the audience about their career and their visions.


  • With an annually changing focus, the IFFMH's retrospective seeks to discover the possibilities of cinema through the lense of the past.

Rough diamonds, film gems or classics of cinema history: In the RETROSPECTIVE section, the IFFMH presents unique historical works in 35-millimeter projections and digital restorations. The RETROSPECTIVE connects tradition and present, places the festival in the context of the past and is committed to the film heritage. The films offer insights into different phases of the medium’s development or into national cinematographies. At the same time, curatorial lines and cross-references can be drawn to both current and past festival contributions.

Picture: © The Festival Agency