2013 - 2022

distinguished celebrities


Throughout its history, the Filmfest has been host to an array of distinguished filmmakers. With Diana Iljine as its director, the festival welcomed even more international celebrities. The CineMerit award-winners of the decade included Michael Caine, who brought his latest film, LAST LOVE, directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, to Munich in 2013; and Udo Kier, the subject of ARTEHOLIC by Hermann Vaske, and French actress Isabelle Huppert in 2014. Rupert Everett and Jean-Jacques Annaud followed in 2015; then came Ellen Burstyn, whose Oscar-winning performance in Martin Scorsese’s ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE was screened following the award ceremony in 2016. BREAKING BAD star Bryan Cranston was honored in 2017 for his contribution to cinema (and the art of the series), and his latest film, WAKEFIELD, was screened. Emma Thompson and Terry Gilliam received the award in 2018, and Ralph Fiennes and Antonio Banderas in 2019.

Alongside Diana Iljine as executive director of the film festival, Christoph Gröner became artistic director of the festival in 2019. As Filmfest 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, Senta Berger was awarded the CineMerit the following year. For the gala in her honor, she requested a screening of the hit movie WELCOME TO GERMANY, which her son, Simon Verhoeven, had directed and in which she had the leading role. That same year, Robin Wright was also honored with the CineMerit; her directorial debut, LAND, was given its German premiere on this occasion. Alba Rohrwacher, who has had a close connection to the Filmfest for many years, followed in 2022.



In 2013, the Filmfest dedicated a homage to Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, screening his western EL TOPO (1970), his latest work, THE DANCE OF REALITY, and Frank Pavich’s latest documentary, JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, the latter two as German premieres. At a Filmmakers Live! discussion, Jodorowsky was paired with Danish director and passionate Jodorowsky fan Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn’s latest film, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, was screened in the CineMasters competition.

The special guests that year also included Paolo Sorrentino. A homage to him included his film LA GRANDE BELLEZZA, which had just premiered at Cannes and which would go on to earn four European Film Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar.


In 2014, the Filmfest honored two German directors, both of whom, as different as their films are, tirelessly explored the possibilities of cinema. Willy Bogner, fashion designer, filmmaker, and stunt coordinator all in one, was given a homage that featured many of his films as well as a couple of James Bond movies for which he had come up with some daredevil skiing stunts. Bogner and Bond films were also given open-air screenings in the Gasteig Forum. Klaus Lemke, who had stood out during the Ströhl era by complaining that his latest films were routinely NOT being invited to the festival, was invited to show the films he’d made in Hamburg, from ROCKER (1971) to DANCING WITH THE DEVILS (2010), in a homage.


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Klaus Lemke

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Willy Bogner

The year 2014 also saw “An Evening with Arthur Cohn” — THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI (2008), directed by Roger Spottiswoode and produced by Cohn, was screened, with the acclaimed producer attending. Impressive, too, was the extensive retrospective of films by US director Walter Hill (48 HOURS, STREETS OF FIRE). Over several days, Hill presented his movies in person at the Filmmuseum. And that same year, at an event titled “25 Years of Christian Ude and the Filmfest”, newly minted ex-mayor Christian Ude got to request the screening of one of his favorite films, ZORBA THE GREEK. Afterward, Ude himself danced the sirtaki on stage.


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Walter Hill

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Arthur Cohn

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Diana Iljine and Christian Ude dance Sirtaki


Over the years, old festival acquaintances have been honored repeatedly in retrospectives and homages. These include Alexander Payne, who received the newly introduced High Hopes Award in 1997 for CITIZEN RUTH and who returned to Munich in 2015 as a two-time Oscar recipient for a retrospective at the Filmmuseum. Reinhard Hauff, the younger brother of Eberhard Hauff and a staff member and curator at the Filmfest for many years, was a guest of honor in 2017, when 13 films he had directed were screened in a homage. In 2001, LA CIÉNAGA by Lucrecia Martel had its German premiere in the Visiones Latinoamericanas section; in 2018, the Filmfest dedicated a retrospective to the Argentinian director. That same year, a homage was dedicated to Philip Gröning.

Bong Joon-ho, a guest at Filmfest 2001 and 2010, returned as well, after he’d just earned the Palme d’Or for PARASITE at Cannes in 2019. That film was screened as part of a retrospective. A short time later, Bong Joon-ho was to receive several Oscars for PARASITE. Also in 2019, Danish guerrilla documentary filmmaker Mads Brügger was invited to look back on his films in an extensive retrospective. Other retrospectives and homages in this decade were dedicated to Christian Petzold and Bahman Ghobadi (both 2016), Sofia Coppola (2017), Małgorzata Szumowska (2021), and Doris Dörrie (2022), whose latest film, THE POOL, premiered at the Filmfest.

further guests of honor


Directors, producers, actors, actresses, and other protagonists have also come to the Filmfest time and again outside of the special sections to present their latest work in person. In 2013, jazz legend Charles Lloyd was here as the subject of the documentary CHARLES LLOYD: ARROWS INTO INFINITY. That year, Costa-Gavras also came to Munich to present his latest film, LE CAPITAL, to audiences in the CineMasters section. French actress Fanny Ardant was here as well with her latest film, BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD.

The opening and closing films were also screened with renowned filmmakers and their teams attending. Caroline Link presented EXIT MARRAKECH with Ulrich Tukur and Samuel Schneider at the 2013 opening, while Jean-Pierre Jeunet was at the opening of Filmfest 2014 with THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T. S. SPIVET. Following them were: director David Oehlhoffen and lead actor Viggo Mortensen (FAR FROM MEN, 2015 opening); Maren Ade, Sandra Hüller, and other team members of TONI ERDMANN (2016 opening); Claire Denis (LET THE SUNSHINE IN, 2017 opening); and Bill Nighy (THEIR FINEST, the closing film in 2017).

Director Joachim Lang, Lars Eidinger, Tobias Moretti, and other stars attended the world premiere of MACK THE KNIFE – BRECHT’S THREEPENNY FILM (2018 opening), as did director Riley Stearns and Jesse Eisenberg with THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE at the 2019 opening.

In 2020, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but was followed up later in the summer by Filmfest Pop-Up at drive-in theaters. In 2021, the Filmfest was also held primarily out of doors. KAISERSCHMARRNDRAMA, a comedy about detective Franz Eberhofer, opened the festival by premiering simultaneously at the Mathäser cinema and several open-air venues, with director Ed Herzog and a large number of team members attending. In 2022, the opening was held at the Isarphilharmonie for the first time. The opening ceremony, which featured a screening of CORSAGE by Marie Kreutzer was attended by the director, lead actress Vicky Krieps, and other members of the film team.

Twice, the Margot Hielscher Award has been presented at the festival in memory of actress and singer Margot Hielscher, who died in 2017. French actor and director Louis Garrel received the award in 2019, followed by German actress Franka Potente in 2021, whose first film as a director, HOME, was screened at the Kino am Olympiasee after the award ceremony.


NEw sections, new awards


The new division of the international section into International Independents and Spotlight, based primarily on different production criteria, became a permanent fixture. The Lights! Camera! Action! section, in which works are screened that deal with cinema itself, was revived in 2014 as “Films about Cinema” but reverted to the familiar title in 2015.

The new CineVision and CineMasters competitions also became firmly established. The CineVision Award is sponsored by MPLC. The CineMasters Award was sponsored jointly by Arri and Osram for a number of years, but is now solely sponsored by Arri. Last year, the Filmfest created a third competition called CineRebels to screen recent films that are particularly experimental in their form and content. The CineRebels Award is sponsored by Audi, a major partner of the festival.

In 2019, for the first and so far only time, the film festival honored a German-international co-production with the CineCoPro Award, funded by grants from the Bavarian State Ministry of Digital Affairs. In 2022, the first CineCopro Conference was held with FFF Bayern and a delegation of producers from the United Kingdom. Since 2022, the Kinderfilmfest has also presented an award for the best children’s film: the CineKindl Award, sponsored by the film production company megaherz.



Time and again, the Filmfest has paid homage to filmmakers and employees with a close connection to the festival who have passed on. At Filmfest 2013, Munich film director Peter Sehr, who had passed away that May, was honored with a screening of his film KASPAR HAUSER. In 2016, the Filmfest dedicated a homage to Jacques Rivette, who had died in January of that year. In July 2016, the 2010 CineMerit recipient, Abbas Kiarostami, passed away, and a special was dedicated to him in 2017, with screenings of his last short film, TAKE ME HOME, and Seifollah Samadian’s documentary 76 MINUTES AND 15 SECONDS WITH ABBAS KIAROSTAMI. In 2018, a homage was held for Ingmar Bergman, who would have turned 100 years old.

In 2015, on the 30th anniversary of his death, film critic and screenwriter Joe Hembus was honored in a homage that included an exhibition of photographs from his private archive at the Filmmuseum. Hembus had once proposed that the city create a summer festival. Although his plans did not initially come to fruition, he is now considered one of the founding fathers of the Filmfest.

Another person who was closely associated with the festival and who was a distinctive, unforgettable leader was Bodo Fründt. The film journalist and film producer headed the Filmfest’s editorial team for decades and set the tone of how the festival presented itself. He died on December 2, 2014. The following edition of the festival included a homage to him, screening two of Fründt’s documentaries, one on Francis Ford Coppola and the other on Martin Scorsese.


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Bodo Fründt

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Joe Hembus

NEw german cinema


Celebrated German directors, actors, actresses, and producers as well as newcomers come to the Filmfest every year to show their latest works on the silver screen. In 2013, for example, DAMPFNUDELBLUES was screened in the New German TV Movies section curated by Ulrike Frick, launching the popular series of films about detective Franz Eberhofer. The Filmfest was also the first festival to screen television series; in 2015, German series were added to the program of international series.

The films screened in the New German Cinema section curated by Christoph Gröner included: 00 SCHNEIDER – IM WENDEKREIS DER EIDECHSE by and with Helge Schneider (2012), ICH FÜHL MICH DISCO by Axel Ranisch and LOVE STEAKS by Jakob Lass (2013), DAS ZIMMERMÄDCHEN LYNN by Ingo Haeb starring Vicky Krieps (2014), SCHAU MICH NICHT SO AN by and with Uisenma Borchu (2015), DIE LETZTE SAU by Aron Lehmann (2016), FIKKEFUCHS by Jan Henrik Stahlberg (2017), ALLES IST GUT by Eva Trobisch and WACKERSDORF by Oliver Haffner (2018), LARA by OH BOY director Jan-Ole Gerster starring Corinna Harfouch (2019), A PURE PLACE by Nikias Chryssos and LIEBER THOMAS by Andreas Kleinert (2021), and THE ORDINARIES by Sophie Linnenbaum (2022).

Click here to see all the recipients of the German Cinema New Talent Award.



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Sir Peter Jonas during his laudatory speech for Bryan Cranston



As mentioned above, the Filmfest was a pioneer when it came to TV series. At Filmfest 2013, for the first time — in fact, the first time ever at a film festival — there was a Series Special that put episodes of various series on the big screen. In cooperation with Sky, Filmfest 2014 showed the first two episodes of GOMORRAH, PEAKY BLINDERS, and SILICON VALLEY, among others. The series evenings were hosted by Dr. Steffen Huck, a professor of economics at University College London and director of the Berlin Social Science Center, and Sir Peter Jonas, the former artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera. In 2017, series fan Jonas delivered the laudatory speech for BREAKING BAD star Bryan Cranston.

In 2015, German series were screened alongside international productions for the first time; LERCHENBERG by Felix Binder and WEISSENSEE by Friedemann Fromm started things off. In 2016, for the first time, there was a separate section of New German TV Series, including episodes of Hans-Christian Schmid’s DAS VERSCHWINDEN and the entire third season of the Web series DER LACK IST AB. Starting in 2017, Seriencamp was on board and selected the international series for the Filmfest’s Series Spotlight. Not just individual episodes, but entire series, were shown at the Filmfest. In 2019, a “binge-watching session” was held, in which all six episodes of Lars Kraume’s Bauhaus portrait DIE NEUE ZEIT, with Trine Dyrholm in one of the leading roles, were screened in three auditoriums at the Arri cinema.

Most recently, at the 2022 edition of the festival, Ulrike Frick curated eight films and seven series in the German television section. These included the Amazon series DAMAGED GOODS with Sophie Passmann and the Netflix series KING OF STONKS, which starred Thomas Schubert and Matthias Brandt. While a Bernd Burgemeister TV Production Award has always been presented to the best TV movie in this section, a second award was added in 2022 for the best series. This, too, is valued at 25,000 euros and is sponsored by the Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten (VFF).



Under the direction of Katrin Hoffmann, German as well as international children’s films continued to be screened, including the premiere of the later hit motion picture THE PASTA DETECTIVES (2014) by Neele Leana Vollmar. The youth film section that had been part of previous editions of the festival continued in the form of individual “youth film events”. In 2016, the third and final film in the adaptation of the “gemstone” trilogy, EMERALD GREEN by Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schöde, was screened; in 2017, TIGER MILK by Ute Wieland, and in 2018, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD by Aron Lehmann.

In 2017, the Filmfest honored the memory of Hans Strobel, who had passed away on December 24, 2016. Strobel and his wife Christel had directed the Kinderfilmfest for 22 years, from its founding in 1983 until Katrin Hoffmann took over in 2005. After 14 years, she decided to step down and curated her final edition of the festival in 2019 with her successor, Katrin Miller. Tobias Krell, who had previously been a speaker at the Kinderfilmfest, took over as its director in early 2021.



The open-air section at the Gasteig Forum continued through 2019. Highlights included films set in Venice (2013), films about skateboarders (2016), concert movies selected by BR editor Walter Greifenstein (2017), and, on the occasion of the Faust Festival taking place throughout Munich, movies about boxing — relying on a play on words using the name “Faust”. In 2019, eight films set in Munich were screened in a section called “Munich, Baby!”. These included ZUR SACHE, SCHÄTZCHEN! (1968) with Uschi Glas. After that, the open-air section was discontinued, partly because the Gasteig was no longer available as a festival center due to the start of renovation work there.


The Festival must reinvent itself


When the pandemic led to the cancellation of Filmfest 2020, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN Pop-Up was held in its place in July and August in cooperation with the PopUp Autokino München in Freimann and the Kino am Olympiasee.

As it was still not clear in 2021 whether the pandemic would permit holding the festival in theaters again, this entire edition of the festival was largely held outdoors, in cooperation with several open-air cinemas. New festival venues such as Kino, Mond und Sterne and Sugar Mountain were added and were even retained in 2022, when the Filmfest was able to return indoors to its familiar theaters. Doris Dörrie’s THE POOL, for example, had its premiere in two auditoriums of the Arri cinema in the afternoon; that evening, Dörrie and her team presented the film at Kino, Mond und Sterne, with vice-mayor Katrin Habenschaden introducing the homage to Dörrie.


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Open Air cinema at HFF

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at Institut Français


Kino, Mond und Sterne open air cinema at  Westpark



As long ago as 1984, in the foreword to the catalogue, Eberhard Hauff had warned of “a matter of survival for the cinema movie in view of the new media.” By this he was mainly referring to the rapidly expanding market in home video. Yet the Filmfest has continually accommodated “new” media. In 2013, a Games Special, curated by Philipp Schall, was held for the first time. International game designers were invited to discuss their craft in workshops and to give lectures and master classes on topics from the world of games. Three of them were given carte blanche in choosing a film that had influenced their careers. There was also a set of feature films and a set of documentary films, each comprised of three films relating to games.

The Filmfest also explored virtual realities, preferably with a VR headset. In 2018, it tied into the i4c conference that had been organized by the Bayerisches Filmzentrum since 2016. A two-day series of events, planned by Edgar Reitz, was held in the halls of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. “Virtual Worlds” followed in 2019, curated by Astrid Kahmke and again held in cooperation with the Bayerisches Filmzentrum. Festivalgoers were treated to a series of VR experiences as part of the “Virtual Worlds” exhibition at the Isarforum; the focus was on works from France.


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Virtual Worlds

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Games Special with moderator Philipp Schall

the FILMFEST AS industry event


FILMFEST MÜNCHEN plays out not only in movie theaters, but also in their foyers and in Munich’s pubs and beer gardens. “The industry is given the opportunity to come together in a casual summer setting,” Diana Iljine wrote in the foreword to the 2014 catalogue. “This is where potential projects are discussed, co-producers are found, and the latest German films and TV movies are screened. For a better overview, we offer an online Industry Guide. What’s also new is the Lunch Box: at lunchtime, directors can network with distributors, producers, journalists, and other interested parties.”

In 2021, the Beergarden Convention was introduced, an event where accredited members from the film industry can interact in a casual setting. In 2022, there was a separate section for festival attendees from the industry on the grounds of the new festival center, the Amerikahaus.



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watch films, celebrate films


Since Eberhard Hauff’s time, it’s always been of paramount importance that the Munich film festival should encourage people to celebrate — that’s the festival part of it. Under Diana Iljine’s leadership, the Filmfest Nights Out were introduced in 2014, in partnership with holleschek + schlick at that time. In 2016, the motto was “Party until the screen fades to black”. You might not want to take things to such an extreme these days, but after two years of a pandemic, people’s longing to have a beer or two and come together to talk and dance after the film screenings was clearly noticeable.

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