As much as Munich has to offer, independent film is not something one normally gets here. German films are shown throughout the year, of course, and a handful of art houses still exist. French and other European cinema, as well as unusual documentaries are sometimes shown, but those theatres are off the beaten path.
The exception to this dearth of independent film is the one week of the year that the Filmfest München takes place. Along with German productions from the smallest to the biggest budgets, including television and even a children's programme, the Filmfest annually offers an impressive selection of international film. In addition, there are always people in attendance from the film world with whom one would never expect to be rubbing elbows with here in the Bavarian capital.
The featured guests this year are many. Melanie Griffith is here for the world premiere of 'The Grief Tourist', which she stars in. Directed by Suri Krishnamma, this is one of the bigger name films being shown. At the last minute, it was announced that James Franco would be part of the Filmfest. Not only is he in town to introduce three films that have not been screened in Europe before, but he has expressed some interest in visiting the Pinakotheken. If he is only to be here on Monday, as planned, I would hate to be the one who had to tell him that most of the museums are closed that day.
Oscar-nominated Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) is presenting his newest film, and best-selling French author Frédéric Beigbeder has made his directorial debut with the film 'L'amour dure trios ans' (Love Lasts Three Years), which is also being shown.
On the evening of 1 July, when it seems almost everyone will be watching the European Championship final, these artsy types at the Filmfest are offering an alternative to the football with a documentary titled 'Wagner's Dream' by Robert Lapage. It shows a behind the scenes look at New York's Metropolitan Opera, while they stage a production of the Ring Cycle. The five years of preparation and forty tonnes of stage technology (called 'The Machine') are included in the depiction of this massive opera production.
Other honoured guests to the Filmfest are American director Todd Haynes, musician Giorgio Moroder, British director Bruce Robinson, and Danish cult director Nicolas Winding Refn. Taking part in the homage to Rainer Werner Fassbinder are various actors including Ingrid Carven, Isolde Barth and Udo Kier, as well as American cameraman Ed Lachman and Fassbinder cameraman and German director Xaver Schwarzenberger.
A popular event that the Filmfest is bringing back is what they call the Open Lounge. After 10 pm, festival guests and members of the viewing public can meet one another in a very informal setting. From 24 June to 2 July, the Open Lounge can be found on the second floor of the Gasteig. Relatively late in the evening, by Munich standards, it seems it will be anything but stodgy.
Although there are films most of the day on Saturday 30 June, the Filmfest officially opens that evening with Canadian director Ken Scott's hilarious comedy 'Starbuck', about a perpetually irresponsible man who is suddenly faced with fatherhood on a grand scale. There is much more where that came from. The Filmfest München promises to be a compelling week of cinema.
Filmfest München in English