Tuesday, 6/18/2019

The higher they fly, the harder they fall


The higher they fly, the harder they fall

Living at the limit: the French TV series VERNON SUBUTEX

Sometimes day-to-day life isn't enough. It's a great relief, then, that more and more series are being made that offer us viewers an escape in a variety of ways — be it in classical television with its linear storytelling, in streaming services, or in media libraries. In 2019, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is once again presenting new German series and, in cooperation with Seriencamp, introducing exciting international productions.


There's always something alluring about a life of excess: getting the most out of every moment, never thinking about tomorrow. Virginia Despentes' bestseller is about a guy who spends his days getting over his burnout by submitting to this philosophy. Without a home, the titular hero and former record store owner Vernon wanders from couch to couch, unable to escape from a vicious cycle of partying that he allows to consume his life. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is showing the first two episodes of the picturesque adaptation of VERNON SUBUTEX.

Jaksch, in his late 20s, is another person who likes to let himself go. This guy from Munich doesn't quite know what to do with himself. All he knows is that he seeks adventure. In doing so, he meets some bizarre characters, some splendid individuals, and some pitiful figures. The German Web series FAT AND FAT, soon to be aired on the ZDF network, is, like the French adaptation of VERNON SUBUTEX, an intelligent study of society.

Ana Mari and Manolo meet again in the shadow of such people with a zest for life. Ana Mari, loyal to the regime, and Manolo, a good-for-nothing colleague, get themselves hired by American actress Ava Gardner so that they can spy on her. It's 1961, and the Franco regime isn't at all pleased with her extravagant lifestyle. Ana Mari and Manolo take on the role of a housekeeper and a chauffeur as well as that of a married couple. Ana Mari not only has to cope with the vices of her purported spouse, but also feels that her conservative values are being threatened by Ava Gardner's lifestyle. Or perhaps she even likes the upper-class dolce vita, which she's never been able to observe up close. The Spanish comedy-drama series ARDE MADRID's menagerie of quirky characters gives an entertaining twist to the Franco regime's desire to control people's lives.




Viewers of the documentary series WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN are given a glimpse into a different world. Director Sacha Jenkins follows the legendary Wu-Tang Clan on a journey through its past. This band revolutionized the musical genre of hip-hop in the early 1990s, not only with experimental beats and idiosyncratic lyrics, but also with fashion, making its members artists and businessmen at the same time.

Family man Manny in DARK MONEY is a businessman in the negative sense of the word. His family's lives are shattered when his son Isaac admits he was abused by a Hollywood director while working on a project. Manny decides not to report the offender, but instead to accept a large sum of hush money. The family needs the money to pay its debts, but the fissures caused by this decision cannot be repaired with money. This topical subject is given both thrilling and sensitive treatment in this British series.

How much is a life really worth? Criminal defense lawyer Friedrich Kronberg is confronted with this question in the third season of Ferdinand von Schirach's SHADES OF GUILT. He stands by a woman accused of killing a child, and is also reacquainted with an old friend whose depression leads the lawyer to take a critical look at his own decisions. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is showing three episodes from the new season: "The Friend", "The Small Man", and "Lonely".




Protecting lives is something that Dr. Nancy Jaax and her team in THE HOT ZONE try to do. When the Ebola virus is diagnosed in chimpanzees in Washington, DC, quick action is called for, since this highly contagious disease can be passed from ape to human. With a stellar cast, including Julianna Margulies (THE GOOD WIFE) as a fearless military scientist alongside Liam Cunningham (Davos from GAME OF THRONES) and Robert Sean Leonard (familiar from DEAD POETS' SOCIETY and HOUSE M.D.), this National Geographic series is a hair-raising thriller to the very end.

After so much excitement, it's important to relax — to find a peaceful oasis, as it were, to which one can withdraw. Such a place can sometimes be found when getting acquainted with another culture, broadening one's horizons, or simply living. Sometimes it just doesn't work, as the second season of THE INSTITUTE – OASIS OF FAILURE proves. The employees of a German language and cultural institute in the fictitious country of Kisbekistan again have their hands full convincing the residents of Kallalabad of how great Germany is — a task at which they don't really succeed. This workplace sitcom about Dr. Eckart, the director of the institute, and his team is a politically incorrect satire of the Arab-European culture clash. It earned the 2018 German Comedy Award in the category of most innovative series.




For fans who prefer to enjoy series in one go, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is showing two series as a binge-watching event this year — with more than four hours of screen time for each. In BAUHAUS: A NEW ERA, Lars Kraume's production on the occasion of 100 years of Bauhaus architecture, August Diehl as architect Walter Gropius reflects on his life. When a journalist accuses him of suppressing women at the Bauhaus, he describes his encounter with artist Dörte Helm. WEST OF LIBERTY is, in contrast, a gripping thriller about former double agent Ludwig Licht, who spends his days in a pub in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. But one day, his former CIA colleague GT has a job for him: to protect the spokeswoman of "Hydraleaks", who has witnessed a triple murder, but also to locate the founder of the network of whistleblowers, who's gone into hiding. A thrilling manhunt beyond Germany's borders begins. This thriller series, which relates to current events, is based on Thomas Engström's novel of the same title. Wotan Wilke Möhring stars as Ludwig Licht and Lars Eidinger as Lucien Gell.

Find out more about the Series Spotlight and New German Series sections.

The following episodes will be shown at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN:

VERNON SUBUTEX: Episodes 1–2

FAT AND FAT: Episodes 1–4

ARDE MADRID: Episodes 1–4


DARK MONEY: Episodes 1–2

SHADES OF GUILT: Season 3, Episodes "The Friend", "The Small Man", "Lonely"

THE HOT ZONE: Episodes 1–2


BAUHAUS: A NEW ERA: all episodes

WEST OF LIBERTY: all episodes


Barbara Oswald