Munich Film Festival Unspools "Chef," "Homesman"

Munich is not a place you’d expect to find surfers, but close to the city center on the River Isar, you’ll see folks on boards riding artificial waves.

The good vibrations that emanate from these surfers resonate with the film festival participants, who — like the surfers — combine a love of their craft with a sense of fun.

The fest attracts more than 70,000 film lovers, who will be able to pick from among a range of fare, from such U.S. pics as Jon Favreau’s “Chef” and Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman,” to a selection of international movies, like Irrfan Khan starrer “Qissa,” above, and local films, including Ralf Huettner’s “The Cook.” It also has a section for TV series, and will be featuring the Sky Italia series “Gomorrah.”

Fest director Diana Iljine is proud of the retrospectives: the first complete retro of Walter Hill’s work and the homage to Willy Bogner, best known for his point-of-view skiing sequences in action films, especially the James Bond movies.

Iljine hopes that when the guests depart, they’ll take with them fond memories of fabulous films they’ve watched and the good times they had.

“I’m very excited about all the upcoming movies, so I hope people will like them, remember them, and recommend them to others, and the laid-back atmosphere,” Iljine says. “Munich is famous
for its summer beer-garden feeling — where you can combine great movies with great socializing.”

Munich is the most important summer event for the German film industry, attracting more than 4,000 industry delegates and 600 members of the press.

“Filmfest Munich is a networking hotbed. It starts in the cinemas, and goes on until late at night at the parties,” Iljine says. “There are about 200 events during the festival week — panels, meetings, receptions, a film tour, even a filmmakers’ river rafting tour with sausage, pretzels and beer. Richard Linklater loved that part.”

Although there is fun to be had at the festival, there are also serious issues to be discussed.

“Many films reflect the pressing themes of our times. The crisis in Europe, the upheavals in the East (“Ukraine Is Not a Brothel”), refugees escaping from civil war in the Middle East (“Rags and Tatters”), immigrants in search of a better life (“El Rayo (Hassan’s Way)”) or fleeing from poverty and oppression (“Salvation Army”). The world is changing — and so are the movies,” Iljine says.

Munich is Germany’s leading film biz hub and the festival plays its part in reinforcing that role.

The city, which is located in Germany’s Bavaria, is home to many of the country’s top film companies, like Bavaria Film Group and Constantin Film, and has a superb production infrastructure.

This includes top production facilities companies like Arri and Bavaria Film Studios and such world-class post-production outfits as Scanline and Trixter.

Achim Rohnke, managing director of Bavaria, says the regional film fund, FFF Bayern, is a driving force behind the success of the local biz. The fund invests €28 million ($40 million) a year in the regional industry, and provides a further $4 million to attract international projects, such as “Big Game,” starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Rohnke compliments the film festival for bringing the local biz together, and providing a platform for German talent. He describes the fest’s German film section as “outstanding.”
Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the exec board at Constantin, describes the festival as “very enjoyable due to time of the year and venue — it is a celebration of movies on a local level.”

He adds: “Just as Bavaria has a distinct local feel with an international accent, the same is true of the festival. It is a great spot to see movies, meet the German film scene and savor one of the most enjoyable cities of Europe.”

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