By Adam Pugh
Oberhausen is a curious place; not a destination which stirs the heart. It’s a town of stained concrete and stout old ladies smoking, of fat men with small dogs, of bocks and sausages; an outsider’s imagined Germany. It’s perhaps the staggering contrast between this backdrop (the city has the largest shopping mall in Europe, which has left the old town bereft and bloodless in favour of tree-lined avenues of Pizza Huts and Frankie & Benny’s – and it’s proud of it!) and the conceptually-driven, ambitious, world-leading film festival which emerges there each year which makes the experience of attending it even more valuable. It’s the feeling that the festival must be good, because it’s not as if any yacht trips or beachside cocktails have bribed you into believing it – and the concrete and chain-smokers aren’t without their charms, in any case.