The Munich Film Festival has begun, and it is not an easy year for festival director Diana Iljine
Mcomplain that only 120 films are shown at the Munich Film Festival this year and not more than 180 as before. “It was already more tinsel,” said Munich Deputy Mayor Katrin habenschaden at the opening of the 39th Munich Film Festival in the purpose-built building known as the “Isarphilharmonie”, which adjoins the Stadtwerke’s only transformer hall. “How much escapism is allowed, must be, when hell is raging two hours’ flight away?” “We can’t overestimate the power that art can have,” is her view of the ten days in which the film festival will shape the cityscape.
“Proliferate with good films”
One should only “proliferate with good films,” said the mayor. And there are good, especially “diverse” films. All are German or European premieres, says festival director Diana Iljine. The Brazilian film “Paloma” about a worker on a papaya plantation who, as a trans woman, does not get permission to marry her boyfriend Zé in a church, is a world premiere. Marcelo Gomes’ pugnacious body of work spearheads a slew of queer films, including Terence Davies’ Benediction, about the outspoken poet Siegfried Sassoon, portrayed as the hero of the First World War honored and then committed to psychiatry because of his pacifist attitude. These include João Pedro Rodrigues: “Will the Wisps”, in which the regent Alfredo in 2069, as a king without a country, remembers his youth – when he wanted to be a fireman and fell passionately in love with his instructors. Or the new Rosa von Praunheim: “Rex Gildo – the last dance” clears up the life lie of the “Fiesta Mexicana” singer, who hid his relationship with manager Fred Miekley and replaced a staged affair with Gitte Haenning and a marriage with his cousin received.
Bavaria’s Digital Minister Judith Gerlach addressed how catastrophic the situation for the film industry was in the pandemic years and in some cases still is. “The pandemic has touched no one’s heart like the cinema and film community. Nobody who was not affected can imagine that.” The young minister thinks of the audience: “Cinema without popcorn because you have to wear masks, without children laughing, without kissing in the last row – you know what I mean.” And to the makers who reinvented themselves “to offer others good entertainment”. The film industry is extremely important for Bavaria. That is why 46 million euros were made available for cinemas and the film industry during the crisis. “We were not able to absorb all the burdens, but we could show that the Free State is at your side.” The film festival is funded “because we know that we have a jewel here that we can be proud of”.
Diana Iljine may be happy about the praise on the outside and still think of the grueling struggles of the shareholders in recent years. Prime Minister Markus Söder had promised the film festival millions in order to Berlinale unlock. The prerequisite, however, is that the city of Munich, as a shareholder, also makes money and presentable venues available. This vision has been buried in the last two years, the festival’s budget has fallen from 3.5 million by 6.85 percent, which the state and city are now giving less. The ironic point that fits in with this is that an Ingolstadt car manufacturer has ended its involvement with the Berlinale in order to now support the Munich Film Festival with transport and financial services, for which Iljine thanked Audi profusely. The car manufacturer will then also sponsor the new “Cine Rebels Award”. The “Cine-Kindl-Award” is also new. But it is unfortunate that the “Cine Copro Award”, which was only introduced in 2019 and is endowed with 100,000 euros, for international co-productions cannot be presented this year due to a lack of money. The relatively young Hielscher Prize also fell victim to austerity measures. The renowned Bernd Burgemeister Prize takes the new viewing habits into account. It was awarded on Sunday evening to the producers of the best television film and the best series – each endowed with 25,000 euros.
The opening film “Corsage”, which was already shown in Cannes, received mixed reviews. The Hungarian children’s film “Wild Roots” and “L’envol”, the free adaptation of the novel “The Purpursegel” by Aleksandr Grin, driven by the magical music of Gabriel Yared, made sure of that in full cinemas for long-missed cinema moments. That was a long way away and at the same time very close to the assessment of a public service editor on a panel: Please don’t get any more scripts on the table that deal with “prosperity-neglected shadow parkers in their mid-thirties without a life plan”. Topic of the panel: “New images of men”. The country definitely needs them, what ARD and ZDF make of it is another question.