Cannes winner opens Munich film festival
Munich Film Festival runs June 20-28...19 June 2008
GERMANY - With splendid timing, Filmfest Munich opens Friday with French director Laurent Cantet's film Entre les murs (The Class) a surprise winner of the Golden Palm at this year's Cannes festival.
Landing the rights to a highly praised film was a feather in the cap of Munich festival director Andreas Stroebel, who selected the film on its merits, who had no way of knowing that it would later go on the win the coveted award in Cannes.
The opener will lead the way to an impressive battalion of international and domestic pictures with about 237 from 41 countries to be screened at the festival under the slogan, We Love Cinema.
The movies are to shown as part of the festival's range of sections, which include focuses on New German Cinema, American independents, New French Cinema and Latin American cinema (Visiones Latinas).
This year's Year of the Dragon section, which showcases Asian cinema, features a number of young Chinese directors who bypass the established system in favour of very personal, often politically subversive films.
Among them are Haiping Gu's Di Ji (The People), Yinan Diao's Ye Che (Night Train) and Tao Han's Dawu (Heavy Fog) as well as Damien Ounouri's Xiao Jia Going Home shot in France.
The festival's international section features films from over 40 nations, among them Syria, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Denmark, Holland, Iraq, Belgian, Sweden Italy, Spain, Austria, Canada, and the United States, two special sections pay tribute to South America and Asia.
This year's Munich film festival will also open veteran British-born actress Julie Christie who will receive the CineMerit Award in a ceremony at the festival.
A section on silent films, children, and open air screenings complement the line up. The festival also offers film buffs a retrospective of the entire output (18 films), of Munich filmmaker, author and painter, Herbert Achternbusch, who will be on hand to meet the public.
Besides its traditional support for young talent from around the world, the festival offers new works from renowned directors such as Abel Ferrara and Jonathan Demme.
Both Ferrara's documentary Chelsea on the Rocks about New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel and Demme's Jimmy Carter, the Man from Plains are to be screened as part of Munich's American independents' section.
British director Peter Greenway's Night Watching, and from the US Brian Palma's Redacted, Frances Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth, and Barry Levinson's What Just Happened are to also be shown in Munich this year.
Eric Rohmer's Les Amours d'Astrea et de Celadon (The Romance of Astrea and Celadon) and Cedric Klapisch's Paris will unspool in the Nouveau Cinema Francais section.
Munich filmmaker Peter Schamoni's documentary Botero - Born in Medellin, a portrait of the noted Colombian painter and sculptor, Fernando Botero, will be the festival's closing film.
Schamoni and German actor Mario Adorf, the film's narrator, will be present at the final ceremony. In addition, David Modigliani's documentary Crawford about President George W. Bush's home base in Texas will have its European Premiere in Munich.
Meanwhile, Andreas Dresen's Wolke 9 (Cloud 9) is to be shown in the New German Cinema section, which together includes 20 pictures among them four documentaries blurring the border between fiction and fact.
But New German Cinema chief Ulrich Maass insists the section has no clear trend.
"The trend is, that we have no trend - or better said, we offer variety instead of a trend," Maass said.
Movie fans are also looking forward to Marcus H. Rosenmueller's latest opus, Raeuber Kneissl (Robber Kneissl), a remake of Reinhard Hauff's 1971 film, which will also be shown for comparison.
Other choice items in the New German Cinema section include Hans Steinbichler's Die Zweite Frau (The Second Wife) and Neele Leana Vollmar's Friedliche Zeiten (Peaceful Times).
The Visiones Latinas section screens a number of upcoming younger directors from Mexico, including the much-awaited documentary from Luis Mendoki, Fraude: Mexico 2006, in which he mounts a case alleging that the nation's current president stole the election in 2006.
The festival is also to screen Italian director Matteo Garrone's Gomorrha, an expose of the Camorra Mafia in Naples, which also won top honours at this year's Cannes film festival.
The film is among 14 others competing for the 50,000 EUR (77,500 USD) ARRI-Zeiss award which includes Paolo Sorrentino's Italian political satire Il Divo, which was awarded Cannes jury prize.
Despite the strong line up of films for this year's festival, fest director Stroebel voiced regrets that Filmfest Munich risked being overshadowed by the European football championships, whose quarter finals take place during the first few days of the festival, with the semi-final scheduled for June 26.
"Unfortunately we were unable to persuade Euro 2008 to postpone the event," Stroebel joked.
By Jack Kindred