Romance. Conflict. Murder. Music. Whatever the topic, the Munich Film Festival is again inviting people to spend 10 days seeing things through the lenses of some the world's top filmmakers.
Arguably Germany's most relaxed, fun-loving city in the summer, Munich is about to become an even more entertaining place when the 34th Munich Film Festival opens Thursday for a 10-day run under the slogan "Full of Passion!"
A total of 207 films - all of them premieres in Germany, and dozens making their debut in Europe and the world - from 62 countries should hold filmgoers in thrall until the July 2 awards ceremonies.
Romance. Conflict. Sex. Murder. Music. It's all there in the line-up of films, which make up Germany's second-biggest celebration of movies after the Berlinale.
What the Munich festival may lack in terms of the top name, big budget films that screen at the major festivals, it makes up for with the laid-back summer atmosphere of the Bavarian capital, where filmgoers can relax between screenings in the beer gardens and outdoor cafes.
"This year's films have a tremendous emotional impact," commented festival Director Diana Iljine in previewing the festival, her fifth as its director.
"In the face of the explosion of moving images in our digital world, we as a festival want very much to strengthen and support the movie theaters as a social meeting place, a place to encounter the new and unpredictable," she added.
Among the various categories, those of most interest to international film fans are the CineMasters competition for the best film, which comes with the 50,000-euro ARRI/Osram award, and the CineVision segment, a nod to the best newcomer director, with 12,000 euros for the top prize. Reflecting the international mix in the CineMasters competition, the 11 film entries are productions from more than a dozen countries and include: "After Love" (director: Joachim Lafosse), "The Death of Louis XIV" (Albert Serra), "Endless Poetry" (Alejandro Jodorowsky), "Fiore" (Claudio Giovannesi), "Neruda" (Pablo Larraín), "Rabin The Last Day" (Amos Gitai), "The Salesman" (Asghar Farhadi), "Sierranevada" (Cristi Puiu), "The Student" (Kirill Serebrennikov), "Sunset Song" (Terence Davies) and "Winter Song" (Otar Iosseliani).
In addition, another crowd-pleaser is always the section devoted to international independent filmmakers, as well as the CineMerit, or lifetime achievement award, which this year will be handed to U.S. actress Ellen Burstyn. Several of her films will be shown, including such classics as "The Exorcist," "The Last Picture Show" and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."
Another feature certain to attract film buffs is a retrospective of the works of Iranian-Kurdish film pioneer Bahman Ghobadi. His seven films are to be screened, including his breakout movie in 2000, the Cannes award-winning "A Time For Drunken Horses," the first Kurdish feature film in the history of Iranian cinema. German director Maren Ade's film "Toni Erdmann," which won major critical acclaim at the recent Cannes Film Festival, opens the festival at the Mathaeser Filmpalast cinema. The festival closes July 2 with the awards ceremonies and the world premiere of Emerald Green by Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schoede.