Last Updated on Sunday, 20 July 2014 13:44
by Brenda Benthien
Nobody needs an excuse to go to Munich in the summertime. The city’s gracious architecture and “Southern” temperament – not to mention its beer gardens - all beckon. But add to that a visit to Filmfest München, and you’ve got a trip that’s well worth the 6-hour train ride from Hamburg.
Munich’s is the largest summertime film festival in Germany, and it draws lots of big names and red-carpet events. Spread over nine days and 18 screens across what’s called the “festival mile,” with categories including International Independents, German TV, a Children’s Film Festival, and Eastern European cinema, it’s a cinematic smorgasbord that takes some dedicated study to navigate. But it’s a great place to take a chance on something new: since the festival features German and international premieres galore, you’re sure to stumble across unexpected gems.
This year’s Fest was its 32nd outing, and it was the third time around for festival director Diana Iljine. On her watch, the program’s scope and sheer size have expanded considerably. 2014 featured homages to American director Walter Hill (48 Hours, Brewster’s Millions, Deadwood), German director Klaus Lemke (whose 1972 film Rocker was set in the Hamburg ‘milieu’), Swiss businessman Arthur Cohn (who produced six Academy Award© winners), and German skier/director/sportswear guru Willy Bogner. Bogner’s ski costumes, designed for many of the action sequences in the James Bond movies, were on display in the theater lobby in the festival’s hub at the Gasteig cultural center. Adding to the festivities were free outdoor late-night screenings of Bond films.
While Munich’s festival is heavy on industry meetings, it’s also a place where the general public has the chance to - maybe not exactly rub elbows with movie stars, but admire them from up close. Festival veteran programmer/filmmaker Robert Fischer was on hand as usual to interview film luminaries in public conversations, including Isabelle Huppert, who was awarded a “CineMerit Award.” A second CineMerit went to German actor Udo Kier, who has played eccentrics, madmen and ghouls for directors from Andy Warhol to Lars von Trier.
Major prize winners in 2014 included:
ARRI/OSRAM Award for Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia)
CineVision Award for Le Meraviglie – Die Wunder - The Wonders by Alice Rohrwacher (Germany, Italy, Switzerland)
Bayern 3 Audience Award: Ein Geschenk Der Goetter - A Godsend by Oliver Haffner (Germany)
Children’s Film Festival Audience Award: Rico, Oskar & Die Tieferschatten by Neele Leana Vollmar (Germany)
Bernd-Burgemeister Television Prize for Tatort: Im Schmerz Geboren by Florian Schwarz
So pencil in June 26 through July 4, 2015, and don’t miss Edition 33 of Filmfest München. Tickets this year cost 8,50 Euros in advance, 5,50 Euros for morning movies, and 3,00 Euros if you’d like to attend a Children’s Film Festival school screening. I highly recommend doing so, since the questions the kids ask visiting filmmakers are as entertaining as the films themselves.