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Prize-less German fest wraps

Munich Film Festival acknowledges public, alumni

COLOGNE — Germany’s second-largest film festival, the Munich Film Fest, wrapped its 25th edition June 30 with an emphasis on honoring filmmakers it had showcased over the years.

A group of German filmmakers started the fest in 1983 with a noncompetitive slant. “The approach then in principle was the same as it is now: a festival for the general public without competition,” says Andreas Stroehl, who became managing director four years ago.

Although there are no official prizes, various interest groups hand out awards as well as the official kudos for lifetime achievement, which this year went to William Friedkin and Kevin Kline.

Friedkin straddles the line between commercial and art helmers, Stroehl says. And like this year’s retrospective subject Werner Herzog, Friedkin has directed operas, including one in Munich.

These days Herzog resides in California, but he returned to his native Munich for the premiere of his latest, “Rescue Dawn” with Christian Bale.

Another helmer honored was Richard Linklater, a regular guest to Munich ever since it became the first fest outside the U.S. to screen “Slacker” in 1991.

Munich’s reputation for showcasing new talent was cemented with helmers Marco Kreuzpaintner and Marcus H. Rosenmueller. Kreuzpaintner won the audience award in 2004 with his debut “Summer Storm,” and this time around the fest presented his first international production, Kline starrer “Trade.”

Rosenmueller debuted last year with “Grave Decisions,” for which he won the Lola German film award as best director, and is now back with his third feature, “Best Time.”

Munich keeps nurturing relationships with rookies, this time with a new CineVision Award for newcomers from abroad, and has further developed its matchmaking service for international entries seeking German distribs, introduced last year.

“We don’t want to establish yet another market, but the test last year was a hit,” Stroehl says. “This can only work in Munich as most distributors have their headquarters here.”

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