Aikido, Creative Work, Photography & Documentary.

HoF Film Festival


For the last 3 years, I have been working on a documentary project about the Last Fisherman in the Rame Peninsula of Cornwall. Its been a long journey, with some setbacks, problems, technical issues and financial obligations. But I think that's the nature of creating anything new; and its never more apparent than when you speak to other filmmakers about their own journey to 'deliver' a film.

Looking back now, all those difficulties seem insignificant to the feeling of actually finishing the film. A film which - I have to confess - wasn't the way I had originally envisaged it; A film which technically isn't up to the standards of today's technology; Furthermore, a film that isn't reflective of the crews abilities.

But none of it matters. We finished it. We delivered.

And that moment when I walked into the large Central cinema in HoF, the door to the outside world closed, and it all goes quiet, a shiver rolled down my spine, my arm hair stands to attention and the whole journey flashed in front of my eyes.

I felt emotional, almost to tears. I realised how lucky I was and what an incredible journey we had all undertaken - the good, the bad and the ugly.

How our small, self-funded, misguided film was ever selected for the HoF Festival I can't say. I'm just honoured it was and that so many people were able to see our work up on that big, big screen. 

I take comfort in the fact that even the best still find it hard.

"I cannot work fast enough. I cannot cope fast enough, really. And just releasing a film is hard".
- Werner Herzog

The church in the centre of Hof.
Photograph me.


HoF is considered one of the leading film festivals in Germany - its full title; the Hof International Film Festival - has become well-established as a platform and is widely regarded as an important event for discovering new talent. Roughly half the programme is made from international movies from all corners of the planet, including feature films, documentaries and shorts.

Heinz Badewitz was name I heard almost every hour or every day. Heinz was the festival’s artistic director, however sadly passed in March 2016. He was one of the pioneering initiators of the festival and it was due to his ties with the city of Hof that the first shorts programme was screened there way back in May 1967. This event went down in history as the First Hof Film Festival.

Everyone spoke so soundly of Heinz, I wish I could have had the honour and pleasure of meeting him.

The festival atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was friendly, from the audience to the amazing volunteers who organise the entire festival. There was a real buzz of excitement around the town.

Our film was screened three times during the festival, twice in the large Central cinema and once in a smaller, more intimate theatre in the same building. Both myself and my producer, Leo were getting a little worried that no one would show up. Luckily for us, each screening in the large cinema was nearly full, and people were standing up in the smaller screen to watch the film.

As a director I was asked to present the screening and participate in a question and answer session at the end. Fortunately, Leo was able to lend a hand with the German questions. And despite how as a filmmaker I always feel like I am not happy with my work, we got some amazing reviews and also some helpful words of advice.

Photographs courtesy of Hof International Film Festival.


The big screen is a very addictive place to be, especially for a beginner such as myself. Even our small exposure in screening the film across Europe has had a profound impact on all of us involved in the production.

I remember the first film I had made been shown in the national Film and Television Museum. I was in my late teens. Its was called 'The Heroes Are Gone.' I expected that experience to be the most inspiring, thrilling and addictive. And every time thereafter a little bit of that magic would be lost. 

But thats not true. Each time the magic gets stronger. It's enough to make one think of having just one more go - the next one will be better, the next one will really count.

  Centra Cinema at HoF  Photography by Leo Kaserer.

Centra Cinema at HoF
Photography by Leo Kaserer.

James Stier