Odense International Film Festival is Denmark’s international Oscar-qualifying short film festival with a long and successful tradition!
OFF is Denmarks international short film festival and with its beginning already back in 1975 OFF is also the oldest film festival in the country. The festival was started in connection with the 100th anniversary of the death of Hans Christian Andersen. The initiator of the festival was the then film editor for the local newspaper, “Fyens Stifttidende”, Bent Aagaard and the Festival was named “The International Fairytale Festival”. Back then, The Fairytale Festival was a festival that celebrated fairytale-inspired animation films in the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen and it was going to be held every second year.
In 1983, the first shift was made in terms of festival administrator. The choice of new administrator fell upon the internationally renowned film director and writer, Henning Carlsen. With this change of management, other changes were also introduced, the most important one being that the film festival now opened up to other categories of short film. Creative short films of all kinds were now welcome to enter and the festival changed its name to “Odense International Film Festival”. Furthermore, in 1985, this change of name was set in concrete when the internationally award winning documentarist and artistic director to the festival, Jørgen Roos, moved the festival to “Brandts Klædefabrik”, where it has been held ever since.
Two separate festivals
The new concept of Odense International Film Festival was so successful that a need for an annual film festival was met. Consequently, in 1994, the Danish Film Festival was initiated, which was also to be held every second year and as such, fill the gaps between the festivals in Odense. Allan Berg Nielsen took over the artistic management of the Danish Film festival, which focused mainly on Danish films as opposed to Odense International Film festival, which dealt in the international realm of films.
In 1995, with Frantz Ernst in charge of the Odense festival, we celebrated two special anniversaries. OFF turned 20 and film as media turned one hundred years. This was celebrated with film screenings of some of the very first films ever made created by the French Lumiere brothers. At the time, the Danish Film Festival was run by Ulrich Breuning, who today has a special place in the heart of OFF. Ulrich Breuning is still today a big help to OFF and we consider him our “grand ol’ man” in the development and history of OFF.
From two festivals to one
When Christian Braad Thomsen stepped in as artistic director in 1997, he started an important era for OFF. The Danish Film Festival and Odense International Film Festival melted together and became one festival under the name Odense International Film Festival that was to show both Danish and foreign films. Going forward, the festival was to take place every year. Christian Braad Thomsen stayed on till 2005 and made quite a few changes and innovative initiatives. Among other things, Thomsen introduced the independent youth jury, “Video Clip Cup” and he was the man behind making Magasinet venue for the festival. This development with new initiatives was carried on by the following artistic director of the festival, Cecilia Lidin, who also initiated a cooperation with ANIS – The Danish Animation Society – on how to create a competition and prize for Danish and foreign animated films in the festival. In this same period of time, the Video Clip Cup was replaced with what we know today as Talent Camp for young film makers.
OFF as we know it today
In 2009, Birgitte Weinberger took over the festival and was given a completely new role as both head of festival as well as artistic director of the festival. Prior to this, the festival had not had an actual head of festival, but instead the managerial structure had been centered around a local administrator and an artistic director. In 2009, the organizational structure was thus strengthened with a manager that was visible and active all year round. With these managerial changes came also the introduction of the so-called “artistic profile” that was to be changed every year. From hereon in, the festival was to have a high-profile artistic persona from the film industry as “artistic profile”, a person, who would function as an external contributor with his or hers personal angle to the festival program.
Birgitte coined the abbreviation OFF – Odense International Film Festival and in many aspects revitalized the whole concept in both content and expression. She initiated a cooperation with the local add company, “Stupid Studio” to help brand the new OFF concept and create a new graphic expression.
The festival has over the past 6 years experienced significant growth as Denmark’s International Film Festival. The clearest example was when OFF in 2013 was Denmark’s first and only film festival that got labeled as Oscar-qualifying, and thus can send the winners of both the national and international short film competition on to the Academy Awards. In 2015 the Animation Competition received the same status.
OFF grows increasingly strong especially because of the many partners who are helping OFF reach new hights year by year.
In 2015 OFF celebrated 40 years of festival with plenty of gold confetti, glamours parties and good old fashion fun. Guests came from all over the world to celebrate with us and never before has OFF had so many visitors, whom of course got a huge shot of short films and love.
Our 40th birthday culminated with the publication of an anniversary book in December 2015, packed full of interviews with directors, artistic profiles and other people who over the years have had contact with OFF.
In 2016 Odense International Film Festival presented PLAYOFF – a new festival-within-the-festival: three whole days of pure focus on gaming, animation and film – and every possible intersection between them.
Join Us and Expect the Unexpected!
OFF’s PROGRAMME CATALOGUES THROUGH TIME (click on the catalogues 2010 – 16 to view the entire content):