Wednesday, 5/27/2015

Open Air: Swinging Munich

Music Films with Frankie Manning, Glenn Miller and Harry Belafonte

Robert Sean Leonard and Barbara Hershey in SWING KIDS

This year's Open Air at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is dedicated to Swing music, with music and dance films reaching back eight decades. Catchy rhythms and choreographies will swing the Gasteig Piazza – and leave the audience tapping toes and humming along!

The unmatched classic among Swing films is still HELLZAPOPPIN' from 1941, which brought Lindy Hop pioneer Frankie Manning and the Whitey Lindy Hoppers from Harlem's legendary Savoy Ballroom to Hollywood for some of the most spectacular dance routines and moves in movie history, which even the best modern break dancers can learn a thing or two from.

Director Tim Whelan's SWING FEVER (1943) open the Hollywood doors to "Cotton Club" star Lena Horne, who supplemented an overwhelmingly white cast. It was one of the rare movie roles for the Civil Rights advocate Horne, who was later blacklisted by McCarthy and unable to work in Hollywood.

Cotton ClubRichard Gere and Diane Lane in COTTON CLUB

After WWII, the glory days of Big Band music came to an end with the ascendancy of Rock'n'Roll, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Director Anthony Mann's THE GLENN MILLER STORY (1954) looks back on the life story of the great American band leader, played by Jimmy Stewart – his first non-Western for Mann.

Swing was out of fashion for 30 years, until Francis Ford Coppola chimed in its renaissance with COTTON CLUB (1984) – starring Richard Gere as a trumpet player who falls for a mobster's girl (Diane Lane, later paired with Gere in UNFAITHFUL), along with dance legend Gregory Hines and early performances by Lawrence Fishburne (MATRIX) and Coppola's nephew Nicolas Cage.

Kansas CityDermot Mulroney and Harry Belafonte in KANSAS CITY

By the 1990s, the Swing Renaissance was in full swing: In 1996, Robert Altman returned to his hometown in KANSAS CITY to weave a web of intrigue, crime, love, opium and jazz around Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dermot Mulroney, Steve Buscemi and Harry Belafonte. In SWEET AND LOWDOWN (1999), Woody Allen let Sean Penn, "second-best Jazz guitarist ever" and hopeless egomaniac, vie for the hand of mute laundress Hattie (Samantha Morton).

The SWING KIDS (directed by Thomas Carter, 1993) were youthful Jazz fans in 1930s Hamburg, who rebelled against the Nazis und Hitler Youth though modern "negro" dance and music – starring Robert Sean Leonard (DEAD POET'S SOCIETY), Christian Bale and Kenneth Branangh. And 2003 saw director Martin Guigui's steamy romance SWING, in which a young musician (Innis Casey) falls for a mysterious older woman (Jacquline Bisset) in a jazz club.

The Open Air June 26  – July 3  will set the Gasteig swinging – admission is free as always!

Glenn MillerJimmy Stewart in THE GLENN MILLER STORY


Open Air 2015

Fri. June 26
Directed by Robert Altman

Sat. June 27
Directed by Tim Whelan

Sun. June 28
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Mon. June 29
Directed by Henry C. Potter

Tue. June 30
Directed by Martin Guigui

Wed. July 01
Directed by Anthony Mann

Thu. July 02
Directed by Woody Allen

Fri. July 03
Directed by Thomas Carter