Munich (MunichNOW Life) — A leitmotif in this year’s FILMFEST MÜNCHEN program is crossing borders. Whether they’re geographical, political, personal or stylistic, old boundaries are being ignored and new terrain discovered.
Filmfest is broadening horizons and showing productions from regions not noted for their films. Among them are “God Loves the Fighter” (Spotlight), Trinidad’s answer to “City of God”, about life in the down and out neighborhoods of harbor town Port-of-Spain. From Jordan comes “Theeb” (CineVision), a desert drama and from Vietnam “The Inseminator” (International Independents), in which a young female filmmaker breaks century-old taboos. Her film was banned by the Vietnamese government.
Viggo Mortensen in “Lord of the Rings”
Viggo Mortensen breaks with conventions as the hero of this year’s Opening Night film “Far from Men” (CineMasters). He plays a French-born teacher in Algeria who is caught between the crossfire during the civil war in the early fifties “Mediterranea” (International Independents) tackles a hot topic and focuses on illegal African migrants who risk drowning in the Mediterranean, driven by hope for a better life in Europe.
Films dealing with the disruption of formal/aesthetic conventions include “Slow West” from Great Britain (CineVision), “The Taking of Tiger Mountain (3D)” from China (Spotlight) and the German productions “Der Nachtmahr” and “Boy 7” (Neues Deutsches Kino).
“We have a fantastic line-up this year”, commented festival director Diana Iljine. “A large number of films show societies around the world shifting like tectonic plates and causing all kinds of major changes. These films reflect that dramatically.”
The Caribbean is one of the regions in the world that, thanks to advances in digital technology, has young independent filmmakers who are now in the position to tell their stories. In addition to the above mentioned film from Trinidad are “La obra del siglo” (International Independents), a docudrama that focuses on the never completed Ciudad Electro Nuclear, the one-time showcase project of the Cuban revolution. From the Dominican Republic there is “Dólares de arena” (Spotlight), a love story about a young native girl and an older European woman played by Geraldine Chaplin.
Keeping pace with the times, there are also numerous films from Arabic-speaking countries that show what is left of the political and social upheavals of the Arab Spring: “Much Loved” (International Independents), about four young prostitutes in Marrakesh was banned in Morocco. A quite different portrait of young Arabs than what we usually see in the media is “Yallah! Underground” (International Independents), a documentary about subcultures in Arabic-speaking countries.
There are a lot of documentaries at this year’s Filmfest in general and many of them deal with explosive political and social topics. Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney will be here with “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (Spotlight). “Mollath – Und plötzlich bist du verrückt” (Instant Lunatic – New German Cinema) deals with Germany’s biggest judicial scandal since WWII and one that could happen anywhere. Margaret Brown’s “The Great Invisible” (International Independents) focuses on the catastrophe caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. “How to Change the World” (Spotlight) tells the story of the beginnings of Greenpeace.
Filmfest München has an unusually large number of comedies this year. The spectrum runs from wacky “Men & Chicken” (Spotlight) with Mads Mikkelsen and Nikolaj Lie Kaas to the Sundance acclaimed African-American teenage comedy “Dope” (Spotlight). Two are set in New York and have star-studded casts: Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy “She’s Funny That Way” (Spotlight) and Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young” (Spotlight).
FILMFEST MÜNCHEN again presents its two international competitions. Eleven filmmakers with a first or second film will be competing for the CineVision Award (€12,000) from Wild Bunch Germany. In the CineMasters competition, ten filmmakers are vying for the ARRI/OSRAM Award (€50,000 Euro) for Best International Film. Among them are Miguel Gomes, Abel Ferrara, Joachim Trier, Arnaud Desplechin and Kiyhoshi Kurosawa.
The Spotlight and International Independents sections make up the rest of the films in the international program.
Guests of Honor & Specials
Filmfest München is honoring 2 outstanding personalities in the international film community for extraordinary contributions to motion pictures as an art form with its CineMerit Award: director Jean-Jacques Annaud and actor Rupert Everett. The crossover artist par excellence, Andy Warhol, is being honored with a homage in cooperation with Museum Brandhorst: Yes!Yes!Yes! Warholmania in Munich.
This year’s Retrospective honors US director Alexander Payne. The Lights! Camera! Action! sidebar features new documentary films about filmmakers and filmmaking, including the newly restored Director’s Cut of a “Tatort” episode by legendary Hollywood director Sam Fuller and a special event on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Joe Hembus, a famous German film historian and an initiator of Filmfest München. The Open Air section this year revolves around Swing.
The festival’s Closing Night Film is “Il Racconto dei Rocconti” by Matteo Garone, the imaginative adaptation of three tales by Neapolitan writer Giambattista Basile starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly.
FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is presenting altogether 179 new films from 54 countries in ten days. All are German premieres. 39 are world premieres. Eight are European premieres.