18.5.2020, 13 Uhr

Berlin's 11th Independent Audio Play Festival: Video Interview with the Festival Makers

The 11. Berliner Hörspielfestival (BHF, 11th Berlin Audio Play Festival), a competition of the independent radio play scene, is taking place from 21‒24 May 2020, daily from 6/7 pm to 11 pm. All of the nominated audio plays will be streamed live over the YouTube channels of the BHF and the Akademie der Künste.

Listeners are encouraged to cast their votes online for various competitions, and will be able to listen to individual entries for an additional week. The BHF has set a new record, boasting a total of 151 submissions (more than 50 hours of airtime), and 35 of these entries have been nominated competing for the awards. All audible genres and acoustic arts are represented: narratives, documentaries, as well as sound art and forms of experimental language.

Learn more about the history of the BHF and this year's online edition in the video interview with the festival makers Andreja Andrisević, Golo Föllmer und Jochen Meißner – Artistic Directors of the BHF – as well as Cornelia Klauß, Secretary of the Film and Media Arts Section, Akademie der Künste.

Jochen Meißner: The first Berliner Hörspielfestival took place in 2008 at the Strandbad Weißensee where there is a covered bar. The front of the bar was sealed but you could still look out onto the lake and listen to the work. The second year it took place there again, but it rained and the sound from the tin roof produced more John Cage effects than were actually planned.

Andreja Andrisević: After all, we are the Hörspielfestival of the independent scene and this freedom applies on one hand to the creative side, but the freedom of the independent scene also includes being independent of broadcasters and publishers. So, it showcases people who aren't on the radio or on CD, but who are highly creative and produce at home on their own initiative, with no platform and in the end don't earn any money. This is the work that we present at our festival and to which we give a forum.

Golo Föllmer: To produce a Hörspiel (audio play) you need wonderfully little.

Andreja Andrisević: Well, rumor has it that a smartphone will do.

Cornelia Klauß: You only need a recording device and an idea.

Jochen Meißner: These days you only need a decent microphone, reasonable headphones and good software.

Cornelia Klauß: Hörspiel has a long tradition at the Akademie der Künste  in Berlin, but it has become a bit bogged down in recent years. I have been working for the Akademie for three years now and have revived it, and these events have always been very enjoyable. The audience sits in the foyer or in the hall of the Akademie and everyone listens to a Hörspiel and we always have extended talks and discussions afterwards.

Jochen Meißner: This year is the first time that we have received funding from the Senate and, in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste, we wanted to think bigger.

Cornelia Klauß: So we met, and immediately felt that this also fits in the Akademie, because the independent Hörspiel scene is, of course, something that you absolutely have to consider along with the established Hörspiel scene — because they are inseparably linked with each other. Sometimes linked by certain people and also because the independent Hörspiel scene is such rich soil for experimentation, and I always hope it will seep more into public broadcasting and spill over.

Andreja Andrisević: So, this year we had a record number of entries: 151 Hörspiele. We have a nice assortment of serious pieces, which are very entertaining and witty, but also funny. It is thought-provoking. There are pieces about disorder and untidy desks. There are pieces about bizarre characters who tear the eyes out of birds. There's a bit of horror this year too! There's a very scary house with yellow windows where strange things happen. There's a funny and wonderful short piece — one and a half minutes long — about the horror of everyday life, using the example of an order at McDonald's.

Golo Föllmer: The essential thing, of course, is to be able to talk. That you hear the authors speak about their plays, that you can ask them questions, that you can meet them. We won't do the latter very well this year. But the conversations will be there. We have streams in which the plays are presented and after there are live conversations between our wonderfully charming and subtle presenters and the respective authors.

Cornelia Klauß: This means that you can now be a listener, a visitor, to get involved, and you can participate for four days, in real time and with all the challenges that are somehow involved with streaming. In this respect, I would say it is an interesting challenge. For the Akademie, it is definitely a push to enter the digital terrain and to set up and try out completely new techniques and I think it's also an experiment, and I find it interesting to be a part of it.

Jochen Meißner: Hearing is way to access the world which cannot perceived through the eyes or your other senses.

Cornelia Klauß: Hearing has a lot to do with listening, perceiving and perhaps also filtering.

Golo Föllmer: To hear is to let in.

Jochen Meißner: There is this famous sentence by Lorenz Oken that you go out into the world with your eyes and that your ears bring the world to you.

Andreja Andrisević: It goes into the brain, but it also goes to the heart, and that is something special because it has an intense, suggestive power. Yes, that would actually be listening for me — hearing is a way to address mind and feeling equally.

Golo Föllmer: So all you have to do from the 21st to the 24th of May is press a link on your laptop, computer, tablet or mobile phone, plug in quality speakers or good headphones and listen visually to these radio plays together with us.

Watch the video to hear and see the entire interview with the festival makers.