Festival Director Diana Iljine -- photo: FilmFest München
Festival Director Diana Iljine — photo: FilmFest München

Munich — (MunichNOW Arts & Culture) — With all of the other possibilities on offer in the summer in Munich, the Filmfest München somehow fills cinemas throughout the city annually. This year’s Filmfest runs for nine days between June 27th and July 5th. Festival Director Diana Iljine is pleasantly surprised each year that the public chooses cinema, despite things competing for their interest like football and beer garden weather.

One of the things that Ms. Ilgine stresses is that unlike better-known European film festivals the Filmfest München is what she calls a ‘Publikumsfest’ (festival for the public), which means that anyone can buy tickets for the screenings of 158 films from 51 countries. The only problem is that if you’ve never gone to the filmfest, the choice of what films to see might be a little daunting.

The first thing that could turn some away is the assumption that many of the films are in an incomprehensible language, which could not be further from the truth. If your German or your French is good, then it is a pleasure to go see the films in their original language, but many of those are shown with subtitles, and there are plenty of original English language movies from throughout the English-speaking world.

There are 38 world premieres, and unless a film is part of a retrospective, many of the films have not yet had their theatrical release -- photo: Filmfest München
There are 38 world premieres, and unless a film is part of a retrospective, many of the films have not yet had their theatrical release — photo: Filmfest München

The website is in German, as well as excellent English, and you can narrow your search there to what language films you would like to see. In addition, there are plenty of events during the festival which are completely open to the public. The ‘Filmmakers Live’ program showcases featured guests such as Isabelle Huppert, Willy Bogner, Walter Hill, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Udo Kier, Klaus Lemke and Wim Wenders. In past years there were long lines to get into the Gasteig’s Black Box for these events, but starting this year, you can actually reserve a ticket either online or at one of the festival ticket offices.

There are 38 world premieres, and unless a film is part of a retrospective, many of the films have not yet had their theatrical release. Often the filmmaker is there for at least the initial screening of a film, and it is customary for there to be a question and answer session afterwards.

During the course of the festival, we here at MunichNOW will be recommending films that we think are worth seeing, as well as reporting on the events as they happen. The best way to get started is to either go to the Filmfest München website or get a print copy of the program and browse through what is playing. If you recognize an actor you like or a director you think you have heard of, it is possible you might happen upon a gem of a film you would not have otherwise seen.

No film festival is complete without a red carpet -- photo: Filmfest München
No film festival is complete without a red carpet — photo: Filmfest München
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