One of the highlights of the Filmfest is the annual rafting trip on the Isar River. Since 2011, guests of the festival have been invited to spend a day floating downstream to Munich, the period of the pandemic being the only exception. The idea came from Andreas Ströhl, who was festival director from 2003 to 2011. Here he shares a few of his memories with us.









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TYPIcally BAvarian


Rivers have always fascinated me. I grew up in Sendling, and my grandparents had a garden in Thalkirchen, so the Isar was always close by. One time, I walked its entire length; later, I rode my bike along the entire length of the Danube.

While working on a concept for the Filmfest in 2002, I thought about what I’d observed and experienced at other festivals. Usually the guests watch a few films or present their own, maybe receive an award, are then invited to dinner at a restaurant, and that’s about it. When all is said and done, they really haven’t gotten a sense of the place they’ve been to.

At the same time, I remembered how nice it had been to take in certain local sights at some of the festivals. For example, Aki and Mika Kaurismäki invited me to their Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, a small town north of the Arctic Circle. This festival is held at the summer solstice, meaning that it’s always daytime, which is really special. During the festival, there was also a tango party in the middle of the forest, which I thought was terrific — I'll never forget that! I also once attended the Kinofest in Lünen, where the schedule included a visit to a coal mine that was still in operation. It was an incredible experience to be taken 1,200 meters underground and to be able to look at everything close up. Incidentally, that’s where I met Joachim Król, who was also a guest there; we’ve been friends ever since.

Having these memories, I thought that the Filmfest could offer something that is typical of Munich: something that reveals the city’s character, something that you as a guest couldn’t do anywhere else and that you’d definitely remember. That’s how I came up with the rafting trip. It’s typically Bavarian, very idyllic, and had the advantage of everyone staying put. No interviews or appointments, just a half-day of relaxation and the opportunity to talk to people. When I subsequently became director of the Filmfest and actually offered the rafting trip, lots of people took me up on it!


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michi Angermeier

Meat is his favorite vegetable


To organize the first rafting trip for Filmfest 2003, our technical director, Horst Knitterscheidt, and I met with the rafter, Michi Angermeier. One of the things we discussed was the catering. I asked him what’s usually served on the raft. He said, well, meat loaf sandwiches, of course! I thought meat loaf sandwiches were great, but told him that we also needed something for those guests who categorically don’t eat pork or beef. Simply put, we needed something without meat in it. He looked at us, thought about it for a moment, and said, “Yes. Chicken!” I loved that. In the end, there was a spinach casserole as well, but on the bus ride out to the raft, I always liked to announce, “Well, for those who don’t eat meat, there’s chicken on the raft!”


everything you need


Willy Michl was on that first rafting trip. Some of our Japanese guests probably consider him a real American Indian to this day. Also on that first trip were the Kaurismäki brothers. They were among the first people I’d written to. I’d informed both of them that I, too, was now a festival director and that it was their turn to see me! And they came. Under the watchful eye of Aki’s wife Paula, I had to clear out the entire minibar in the hotel room; we gave Aki a case of non-alcoholic beer instead. He didn’t go on the rafting trip either, because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to resist the alcohol there. His brother Mika did go along, though. I’ll never forget the moment he arrived. On the raft, the food was already set up; there was a wooden barrel of beer and a portable toilet. Mika had a mean pair of sunglasses on. He nodded at me and said, “Well done! You really have everything you need here.” That really did earn his respect. Later on, Aki regretted a little bit that he hadn’t gone along.

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michi Angermeier and Mika Kaurismäki

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Still able to work the helm: Terry Gilliam

a rafter feels no pain


Terry Gilliam was at Filmfest 2006, and he went on the rafting trip. His wrist was bandaged because he’d reached into a lawn mower before coming. That was not to be his only injury. Just before the trip ended, a couple of soda bottles burst, presumably because of the heat. A shard of glass injured Terry’s leg slightly, prompting a couple of thuggish lifeguards to treat the wound. He really enjoyed that. Then, rather dramatically, he limped down the landing site with bandages on his wrist and leg, delighted to put on such a show. On a different rafting trip on a rainy day, Richard Linklater’s cameraman, Lee Daniel, slipped on a wet log while less than sober and broke a rib. But otherwise the rafting trips were without any major injuries!

A little BLUES


There’s always been music on the raft. Once, in 2008, a young guy, twenty years old, entertained us by playing the guitar. He was among the cast of John Sayles’ HONEYDRIPPER, a movie about a blues joint in the southern United States in the 1950s. This young man had played some blues on his guitar after the movie screening; now he was doing so on the raft as well. I said to him, “Gee, for an actor, you sure can play!” He replied that he was not an actor at all, but indeed a blues guitarist. Gary Clark, Jr. was his name. Some time ago I wrote a book about music in the United States, including the origin of blues, and I mentioned this man. Gary Clark, Jr. is considered one of the leading blues guitarists in the United States today. He plays to packed stadiums. Back then, he was strumming on the raft (YouTube Video).

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