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 recognition of the 100th anniversary of the death of Hans Christian Andersen. The initiator of the festival was the film editor for the local newspaper, “Fyens Stiftstidende”, Bent Aagaard, and the festival was called “The International Fairytale Festival”. Back then, the festival 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 being that the film festival 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 was reaffirmed when the internationally award winning documentarist and artistic director of the festival, Jørgen Roos, moved the festival to “Brandts Klædefabrik”, where it has been held ever since.
The new concept of Odense International Film Festival was so successful that a need for an annual film festival became apparent. Consequently, in 1994, the Danish Film Festival was initiated, which was to be held every second year, and as such fill the yearly gap between the festival 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 100 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 has a special place in the heart of OFF. Ulrich Breuning continues to this day to be a valuable help to OFF, and we consider him our “grand ol’ man” in the development and history of OFF.
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, open for both Danish and foreign films. The festival was to take place every year. Christian Braad Thomsen stayed on until 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 – and created a competition and award 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.
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 the introduction of the so-called “artistic profile”, that was to change every year. From that moment, 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 programme.
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 could call itself Oscar-qualifying, and thus send the winners of, now all four, competitions to the Academy Awards.
OFF rows increasingly strong, especially because of the many partners who help OFF reach new heights each year.
In 2015, OFF celebrated 40 years of festival with plenty of gold confetti, glamorous parties and fantastic fun. Guests came from all over the world to celebrate with us, and never before has OFF had so many visitors, whom we of course gave a huge injection 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.
THE FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE EVERY YEAR IN WEEK 35, JOIN US AND EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!