dokumentART selects DOK.fest München

Next in our ‘Festival Pick’ strand, Caroline Walke of dokumentART selects a poster from DOK.fest München, the International Documentary Film Festival, Munich.


For me a perfect poster is simple, lets the viewer grasp the idea of the event quickly and makes you wonder or smile.  This dokfest münchen poster collection just has it all for me – simplicity, by the four different motifs it shows the variety of the genre as well as making the viewer guess the contents of the films.  Also always a hard task to fulfill but has so much effect: humour, which will make people stop and wonder about it. People will remember the poster and thus the event – the festival.


Caroline Walke is Festival Director at dokumentART- European Film Festival for Documentaries, Neubrandenburg.


Festival Pick: 33rd Berlin International Film Festival restrospective: Exil

Wilhelm Faber of Berlinale picks a poster from the festival’s archive.

B_Retrospective_1983 (2)

My favourite poster is for the Berlinale Retrospective in 1983.  The central motif is the Anhalter-railwaystation, whose name in free translation is “place where you have to stop.” A magic black and white photograph to open the spectators imagination and memory of old cinema.  At the same time an invitation to remember stories, fate or a turn of events.  The festival film series (EXIL) is highlighted by a typography which is both contained and higlighted. The poster was designed by Volker Noth.


Wilhelm Faber has worked at the Berlin International Film Festival since 1990; working in the fields of program-coordination, festival-organisation, event-management and IT.

Rotterdam selects San Sebastian

Continuing our ‘Festival Pick’ strand, Rutger Wolfson of International Film Festival Rotterdam, selects a poster from the New Directors sidebar of San Sebastian Film Festival 2012


David Bowie's The Next Day

It’s interesting to see that so many good festival posters use a drawing or an illustration. It’s very hard to work with a still (photo) image for a festival poster, because one such image will never cover the whole content spectrum of a festival. So a more abstract level of imagery to convey some sense of what the festival is about, seems to work well. We tried to solve this by using mainly text, that should evoke an image.

The one festival poster I found particularly interesting was the San Sebastian festival 2012, because visually it’s very much the same idea as the latest David Bowie album cover. You never know who got an idea when and where (but the Bowie sleeve is from 2013). Anyhow, you do see a lot of Bowie-sleeve inspired designs everywhere now. 

Rutger Wolfson is Festival Director of International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Children’s Film Festival Seattle picks Frameline


What goes on in the minds of children at a film festival?  Somewhere between the fizz of popping candy, the burst of soda bubbles and the general germination of mischief, an introduction to the delights of cinema causes several mini-explosions to get the synapses twitching, as shown in the deeply scientific diagram above.  With the tagline ‘Making Joyful Neurons’, which spilled into a video trailer that is part Fischli/Weiss, part Saturday morning TV gunge-fest, we were charmed by the recent campaign by the Children’s Film Festival Seattle designed by Creature.

So we invited Festival Director Elizabeth Shepherd to pick her own favourite film festival poster, and tell us what it was about it that caught the eye:

Frameline 37 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival 2013


“I love how playful it is, and how the tagline is built into the poster in such an appealing way. It perfectly conveys that the festival is built for a community of people to come together to experience joy. And … the image of sprawling down on a bed of popcorn with a friend is so fantastic! It seems like this design would be good for every use — programs, bus stop adverts, posters, t-shirts. It is very, very original and uplifting, at the same time.”

Elizabeth Shepherd

Director, Children’s Film Festival Seattle Northwest Film Forum

The poster was designed by Creative B’stro, a San Francisco and Vancouver based agency, and here they give some insight into it’s formation:

Otterly Fabulous

“Film festival posters are a creative challenge in that you must distill down an entire festival of many reels into a snapshot. That snapshot needs to capture the essence of the festival in a way that will inspire attendance.” Sharon Kerr, Account Director, Creative B’stro.

B’stro had developed the “Find Your Story” theme for last year’s Frameline festival so we were already familiar with the festival audience and had worked with the team at Frameline before. For this year’s theme Frameline wanted to focus on a sense of coming together of the LGBT community for this event, while remaining very inclusive of the diversity of this community.


“Frameline is all about community, chosen family, making new friends, and big love connections. The LGBT community is something that really sets us apart from the other big festivals”, Desiree Buford, Frameline’s Director of Programming, commented during the initial creative briefing.

The Frameline team had also really liked the VQFF poster that the B’stro Vancouver office had designed using hedgehogs as a fun way to depict festival attendees. Armed with these requests; the hunt was on! We needed to find members of the animal kingdom that could represent festival attendees in a very broad manner, convey a sense of fun, and depict “chosen” family and togetherness.

After brainstorming and researching the team came up with the theme “Films Bring Us Together” and several possibilities for animals that either exhibited interesting pair-bonding behaviour, or formed bonds that lasted for life. Among the many contenders were penguins, monkeys, and seahorses. Otters, apart from looking cute, apparently hold hands when they sleep so they don’t lose each other —with that delightful behaviour, we settled on otters.


Image: Sea otters holding hands by Joe Robertson from Austin, Texas, USA.

To bring the theme to life, Nina Westin, a Designer at B’stro said, “We wanted the poster to feel warm and inviting, so we chose a warm, rich color palette and added a texture similar to film grain on the otters and the background. We also wanted to represent the diversity of the festival attendees. So we kept the otters non-gender specific, of any age or ethnicity and dressed them in way that festival attendees might be dressed. You can’t tell if they are hipsters or grandpas, boys or girls, but you know they are fun and friendly!”

In order to tie the visual of the to movie attendance we added in cinema tickets and had them swimming in a sea of popcorn. Before some movies an extra short but extra cute animation of an otter cranking the film reel will show. To encourage audience participation and leverage social media we created a life-size otter sign with the face cut out, so people can be their own otter!