U.S. indies, international dramas drawn to event

While the Munich Film Festival has established itself as a premiere showcase for contemporary German cinema, its international lineup and Hollywood sidebar have made it a natural platform for U.S. indies and high-profile international dramas alike.

This year’s main international section showcases 66 titles from around the globe, including Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies,” Pedro Almodovar’s Cannes screener “Broken Embraces,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” and James Gray’s “Two Lovers.”

The noncompetitive main section offers a wide range of contemporary works, including politically charged films such as Anne Aghion’s “My Neighbor, My Killer,” a documentary chronicling the reconciliation between Tutsis and Hutus in postwar Rwanda; and French omnibus “8,” a compilation of shorts tackling eight global challenges from the likes of Jane Campion, Gael Garcia Bernal and Wim Wenders.

The lineup also includes more light-hearted fare such as Nigel Cole’s “$5 a Day,” about an aging con artist who bamboozles his estranged son into a road trip; and Michael Meredith’s “The Open Road,” starring Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges.

Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” screens in the American Independents sidebar, which unspools 13 pics, including Scott Sanders’ blaxploitation spoof “Black Dynamite” and Dana Perry’s documentary “Boy Interrupted,” about her son who committed suicide.

This year’s New German Cinema showcase, meanwhile, presents Lola-winning helmer Andreas Dresen’s “Whiskey With Vodka,” a comedy-drama about an aging alcoholic actor struggling to remain at the top of his game.

The section also continues a cinematic exploration of the 1968 protest movement that defined a generation, picking up where Uli Edel’s 2008 box office hit “The Baader Meinhof Complex” left off.

In Susanne Schneider’s “Es kommt der Tag,” Iris Berben plays a former terrorist coming to terms with her past, while Birgit Schulz’s “Die Anwaelte” (The Attorneys) looks at the political careers of three high-profile lawyers who helped defend members of West Germany’s infamous Red Army Faction.

The theme carries over into the German TV Movies sidebar, which is screening Stefan Krohmer’s “Dutschke,” a biopic about controversial left-wing student leader and local folk hero Rudi Dutschke, who was shot during the turbulent 1968 student protests in Berlin and died a decade later of complications from the injury.

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