Opening film and guests of honor at the 40th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN

FILMFEST MÜNCHEN (June 23 – July 1, 2023) will open its 40th anniversary edition with a screening of “The Persian Version”, a spirited, wry, and witty feature film by Maryam Keshavarz. The Filmfest team is also looking forward to welcoming Barbara Sukowa along with her latest film, “Dalíland”, and to presenting her the CineMerit Award. Austrian director Jessica Hausner will be given a retrospective that will include her latest feature film, “Club Zero”. And in cooperation with Museum Brandhorst, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will pay homage to artist Shu Lea Cheang, screening her latest production, “UKI”, as a world premiere. 

“Four visionary women who couldn’t be more different from each other, who have the courage to break with tradition and carry the film industry forward! We are delighted to welcome Maryam Keshavarz, Barbara Sukowa, Jessica Hausner, and Shu Lea Cheang to FILMFEST MÜNCHEN this year.” — Diana Iljine, Festival Director 


“The Persian Version” to open the 40th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 
FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will open at the Gasteig HP8 on the evening of June 23 with a screening of the culture clash comedy “The Persian Version”. This film follows Leila and her Iranian parents, who immigrated to the United States in the 1960s. Leila is not only caught in the middle as a child of divorce, but is also seeking to balance her identity between contrasting cultures. Director Maryam Keshavarz sets a daunting pace in this, her third feature film, and breaks out of the classic comedy genre by employing a generous dose of irony and daring to play around with her directorial style. The result is a cross-generational portrait that uses humor to dissolve boundaries and that provides a positive outlook amid moments of harsh reality. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is looking forward to welcoming the director and her two leading actresses at the opening on Friday, June 23, in the Isarphilharmonie at HP8. 

The Opening Night is by invitation only. “The Persian Version” will have two additional screenings during the festival. 


The 2023 CineMerit award-winner: Barbara Sukowa 
FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is honoring actress Barbara Sukowa with the CineMerit Award for her service to the art of film. The career of this character actress, always attuned to the complex nature of female characters, demonstrates that a variety of roles and relevant stories exist outside the mainstream. The award ceremony will include a screening of her latest film, “Dalíland”, which the Filmfest is also including in the Spotlight section. Here, Barbara Sukowa slips into the role of Salvador Dalí’s wife, Gala Éluard, depicting her as a proud and sexually liberated woman who nevertheless struggles with her age and her marriage of 50 years. 

Barbara Sukowa has been a character actress since the 1970s. Her acting training was followed by ten years on stage before she shot to fame in the Fassbinder films “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and “Lola” in the early 1980s. Sukowa thus laid the foundation for a remarkable career in the movies. This year’s award-winner can also be admired not just in “Dalíland”, but also in earlier films. The Filmfest will be screening Margarethe von Trotta’s “Rosa Luxemburg” from 1986, which earned Sukowa the award for best actress in Cannes. In that film, she portrayed a historical figure who put her intellect and political convictions above all else. Sukowa also appears in the role of Nina Dorn in “Wir beide” (2019). This sensitive drama portrays two women who express their love for each other in secret. However, when Nina’s partner suffers a stroke, it seems inevitable that she must face her unsuspecting family.  


The 2023 retrospective: Jessica Hausner 
Jessica Hausner is one of Austria’s highest-profile directors, known for her strong-willed style and her clever play with genre elements. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is dedicating a retrospective to her this year. In addition to the five feature films the director has already released, Hausner’s latest film, “Club Zero”, which has just had its world premiere in Cannes, will be screened as a German premiere. This psychodrama is about a manipulative teacher at an elite boarding school who uses bizarre means to draw her students into a cult. Hausner employs a convincing visual style all her own. Her first two films, “Lovely Rita” (2001) and the horror film “Hotel” (2004), are also being screened, as are “Lourdes” (2009) and “Amour Fou” (2014), in which she put Austria behind her. Hausner’s English-language debut, “Little Joe” (2019), reimagines Jack Finney’s science-fiction novel “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, questioning the conventional view of motherhood. 


A homage to Shu Lea Cheang 
As part of its cooperation with Museum Brandhorst, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is paying homage to artist Shu Lea Cheang by presenting five films she has made since the 1990s. These include short films and three feature films as well as Cheang’s latest production, “UKI”, which is being screened as a world premiere. In UKI, a sex worker and replicant named Reiko finds herself in a dystopia in the year 2060. Made redundant and discarded in a landfill for electronic waste, Reiko attempts to regain control of her cybernetic body. 

Cheang is a pioneer of queer new media art who seeks to overwhelm her viewers. Her works involve elements of queer cinema, science fiction, pornography, and networked installation and performance scenarios. The characters in Cheang’s films question heteronormativity and social norms and explore perspectives on liberated sexuality. Her futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic joins works by Bruce LaBruce in URANIANS, an unusual program at Museum Brandhorst. Presented and curated by artist A. L. Steiner, URANIANS consists of films and videos involving several premieres and tributes that celebrate, critique, and represent queer and female-read sexuality on screen. 


The complete schedule of the 40th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will be announced on June 13. Please send any questions and requests for images or interviews to 


Accreditation Journalists seeking accreditation for FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2023 can find information on press accreditation for 2023 here. 
Accreditation deadline: June 9, 2023