The International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg is the Germany’s second oldest film festival after Berlinale (the Berlin International Film Festival). It was established in 1952 by Hermann Heimerich, Lord Mayor of Mannheim. It was originally known as the Cultural and Documentary Film Weeks. In 1994, the festival expanded to Heidelberg and was given its current name.
The festival is aimed at cinema enthusiasts as well as industry professionals. The IFFMH is one of Germany’s largest film festivals, it attracts more than 500 professional participants and about 60,000 visitors every year. Its program includes film screenings with a focus on auteur and art house films often followed by panel discussions featuring actors, directors and producers who present their films.
All films screened at the festival must be premieres and thus films that have been screened at other film festivals held at earlier dates are ineligible for submission. With its focus on auteur cinema, the IFFHM has helped launch the careers of now-famous directors such as François Truffaut, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier, Bryan Singer, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Tomas Vinterberg and others.
The International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg is a competitive festival. The jury awards several prizes: Grand Newcomer Award, Special Newcomer Award, Special Achievement Award, Special Mentions, New Creators Award. Besides, special prizes are awarded by the FIPRESCI Jury and the Ecumenic Jury. The festival audience vote to choose the best film that receives the IFFMH’s Audience Award.
In 1998, the festival established the honorary Master of Cinema Award bestowed to outstanding filmmakers at sporadic intervals. Previous recipients include Theo Angelopoulos, Otar Iosseliani, Zhang Yimou, Raoul Ruiz, Edgar Reitz, Wim Wenders, Alesakdr Sokurov, Atom Agoyan, and Olivier Assayas. In addition, the honorary New Master of Cinema Award is awarded since 2013. Its recipients include Frédéric Fonteyne and Geoffrey Enthoven.