Fest Traveler: Munich Film Festival 2012

The Munich Film Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a new director and an eclectic lineup that spans the globe while featuring a strong showing of U.S. films.

Among the high-profile international screeners are Walter Salles’ “On the Road,” Fernando Meirelles’ “360″ and Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna,” all of which unspool in the inaugural Spotlight section.

Running June 29-July 7, the fest kicks off with “Starbuck,” Ken Scott’s Canadian drama about the troubled life of a one-time sperm donor and his hundreds of progeny.

Munich boasts seven major sections devoted to international cinema, German film, acclaimed filmmakers, young talent and kids’ pics.

Diana Iljine replaced Andreas Strohl this year as the festival’s director. The new topper, a former acquisitions exec at licensing group Telepool who worked at the fest for more than a decade, has introduced a number of structural changes to the event, eliminating regional showcases and tightening up the lineup while focusing on vital areas such as boosting sponsorship.

“World cinema is more global than ever before,” Iljine says. “It seemed more contemporary to us to classify films according to style rather than country of origin.”

As a result, the fest has done away with longstanding sections such as American Independents, Nouveau Cinema Francais and Visiones Latinas.

“Indie films, which form a centerpiece of the festival, exist not only in North America but around the globe,” she says.

The International Independents section, which focuses on underground and arthouse fare, still offers a heavy dose of U.S. cinema, such as Kurt Voss and Allison Anders’ Los Angeles-set “Strutter”; Lynn Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister”; and Tim Sutton’s Phoenix-set family drama “Pavilion”; as well as international works like Merzak Allouache’s French-Algerian drama “The Repentant,” about a young jihadist looking to escape his Islamist life; Laura Citarella’s Argentinean drama “Ostende”; and Claudio Assis’ hedonistic romance from Brazil, “Rat Fever.”

In addition to Spotlight, which presents major international premieres and discoveries, other new sections include CineVision, offering international debut films such as Bryn Higgins’ U.K. psycho-romance “Unconditional” and Mathieu Demy’s French drama “Americano”; and CineMasters, which screens works by established international filmmakers like Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” and Leos Carax’s Cannes player “Holy Motors.”The fest is retaining its Teuton TV sidebar, New German TV. The section, says Iljine, “is extremely popular with viewers. We are first and foremost a public festival. And this is where the entire German film and television industry in Munich meets. In Germany, cinema and television — in contrast to other countries — are very closely intertwined.”

This year’s crop of TV movies include such gritty works as Till Endemann’s “Deployment,” about a group of young German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and helping to rebuild a school but whose work is complicated by Taliban raids and archaic local traditions.

Munich is presenting 187 films this year, down from about 240 titles in previous years. Iljine says it was necessary to downsize, since high number of pics had pushed the fest’s organizational structure to the limits. It had also become difficult for festgoers to have a clear overview, she adds.

In addition, the fest is paying tribute to a number of filmmakers and thesps with tributes and showcases of their work, including Todd Haynes, Nicolas Winding Refn, Julie Delpy and Melanie Griffith.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Munich Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with Giorgio Moroder, who helped define the disco era. The guest of honor has put together a selection of films for the fest’s Open Air section that includes his best-of soundtracks: “American Gigolo,” “Cat People,” “Flashdance,” “Scarface,” “Top Gun,” “D.C. Cab” and “Metropolis.” Organized by Munich writer Katja Eichinger, the Moroder special includes a number of free public parties around the city devoted to Moroder and the modern influence of the Munich Disco style.

  • Munich commemorates the 30th anniversary of the death of Rainer Werner Fassbinder with a special tribute this year, showcasing eight films by and about the German filmmaker, including such 1970s works as “Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven,” “Despair,” “In a Year With 13 Moons” and “The Third Generation,” as well as 1981′s “Lola.”

  • The fest honors Todd Haynes with a complete retrospective of his work, including “I’m Not There,” “Far From Heaven,” the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” and the cult classic “Velvet Goldmine.”

  • Fest is also unspoolsing an homage to Nicolas Winding Refn with a showcase of eight films, including “Drive,” “Fear X” and his “Pusher” trilogy.

  • Julie Delpy gets a mini-retro with a showcase that includes “2 Days in Paris”; “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.” Delpy will be on hand to present the films.

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