Issue-oriented, entertaining, and diverse: The program of FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2021

Monday, 06/07/2021

In this unusual year, the 38th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will screen 70 feature-length films from 29 countries, including 28 German premieres and 33 world premieres — all on the big screen, at nine open-air locations and in seven Filmfest theaters. This year, both Senta Berger and Robin Wright will be honored with the CineMerit Award for their achievements in the art of film. Other honorees will include Franka Potente (Margot Hielscher Award) and Małgorzata Szumowska (tribute). Many of the films revolve around issues of community and belonging, sexual identity, and journeys into imagined worlds. Some of the films also explore Gemany’s history as a divided country and the repercussions that this history continues to have on the present day. It’s an issue-oriented yet entertaining line-up, with films that poignantly tell their stories and yet often reveal a certain lightness.


“In recent months, we’ve had to rethink our festival several times and find creative ways to keep adapting it to the constantly evolving circumstances of the pandemic. This has been a Herculean task, and I’m very proud of how adaptable my team has been. This year, we’re offering our audience as well as the industry an extraordinarily diverse open-air program with entertaining but sophisticated films and wonderful guests. The choice of our four guests of honor intentionally gives the program a female focus, and overall we’re looking forward to a FILMFEST MÜNCHEN that, with some 70 films, will offer our audiences a wide palette of contemporary world cinema. I’m thrilled that the positive developments of recent weeks will allow us to involve some of the festival’s traditional theaters in the festival. Enjoying films together outdoors and in movie theaters is what FILMFEST MÜNCHEN stands for this year.” — Festival Director Diana Iljine


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Home by Franka Potente


Home sweet home? In search of a (new) home

Running throughout the sections of this year’s Filmfest are cinematic explorations of being at home or being homeless. These include returning to the place where one grew up, such as in Franka Potente’s directorial debut, HOME, and in the very personal feature film RESIDUE by Merawi Gerima. Have the old neighborhoods which evoke memories become unrecognizable due to gentrification and structural change, or have the individuals themselves changed? While some return voluntarily, others are evicted. For example, in TOPSIDE (directed by Celine Held and Logan George), a mother and her young daughter are forced to leave their community in New York’s subway tunnels. Driven to the surface, they go on an odyssey in which they transit through hostile places. Ben Sharrock’s LIMBO is about four asylum-seekers waiting on a Scottish island for their asylum case to be processed, a humorously surreal story of finding one’s way in a completely new environment.

Adieu, prison: Of individual escape attempts and fantastic parallel universes

Serious and complex themes are often addressed in a playful way. Breaking out and freeing themselves from social constraints and narrow-minded (gender) conventions are what the characters aim for. Their desire for freedom and emancipation is what drives them. Thus, the young Afro-German protagonist of PRECIOUS IVIE (directed by Sarah Blasskiewitz) gets to know her very different half-sister and increasingly questions her upbringing and self-image. François Ozon’s SUMMER OF 85 tells a bittersweet story of a first queer love and a painful loss. This all takes place against a dreamy, summery backdrop, as does the intimate but tense relationship among sisters in THE MACALUSO SISTERS (directed by Emma Dante). MAYDAY by Karen Cinorre also tells a fairy-tale coming-of-age story. Here, the protagonist suddenly finds herself in a feminist and pointedly satirical parallel universe. No less ironic and metaphorical is Iuli Gerbase’s THE PINK CLOUD, about a woman who is held captive by the entrenched role models of society.


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Wife of a spy

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From horror-thrillers to science fiction to rom-coms: Exceptional genre films

This year’s program once again includes outstanding new genre films, such as Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s historical spy thriller WIFE OF A SPY and the spectacular Netflix horror-thriller film BLOOD RED SKY by Peter Thorwarth. Meanwhile, Anders Thomas Jensen, the grand master of Scandinavian black humor, tells a tragicomic story of revenge in his latest film RIDERS OF JUSTICE with a terrific ensemble led by Mads Mikkelsen. And while the science-fiction film TIDES (directed by Tim Fehlbaum) takes a hypothetical look at a not-too-distant future, two comedies with cult potential — Helena Hufnagel’s COMMITMENT PHOBIA and HEIKO’S WORLD by Dominik Galizia — fully indulge the here and now.


International sections and competitions

Despite the many novelties in this year’s edition of the festival, some constants of course remain: foremost among them are the two competitions, CineMasters and CineVision, which each present ten German premieres — by established directors of renown and by exciting newcomers, respectively.

CineMasters competition: For the title of best international film

New works by established directors comprise this “best of world cinema”, presenting big names alongside exciting discoveries in competition for the ARRI/Osram Award. This year’s nominees include François Ozon (SUMMER OF 85), Anders Thomas Jensen (RIDERS OF JUSTICE), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (WIFE OF A SPY), and Zaida Bergroth (TOVE). All films in the competition can be found here.


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Summer 85

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CineVision competition: for the title of best international film by an up-and-coming director

This competition focuses on talented international directors with a groundbreaking approach to film. Their current works compete for the CineVision Award. The films in this year’s competition deal in particular with (female) self-determination and emancipation. All of the films can be found here.


Meanwhile, the Spotlight section features, as always, highlights of international cinema with stellar casts, such as Emma Seligman’s debut film, SHIVA BABY, the music documentary A-HA – THE MOVIE (directed by Aslaug Holm and Thomas Robsahm), and Anni Seitz’s intimate portrait ASK ME ANYTHING - FRANZ SEITZ. All of the films in this section can be found here.

Fans of short films will also get their money’s worth. Highlights from FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH will be shown at the BEST OF FILMSCHOOLFEST, while the most popular films from the past ten years of FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH will also be shown prior to the main films at certain screenings. Additionally, as part of our film festival, the UNIFIED FILMMAKERS online festival will present the winners from among its short films which address the pandemic from a wide variety of perspectives.



As a section for young audiences at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, the Kinderfilmfest also invites you to a very special edition of the festival with five films and lots of afternoon open-air fun. The world premiere of the live-action adaptation of the children’s classic LAURA’S STAR (director: Joya Thome) will open the Kinderfilmfest. With Tobias Krell (“Checker Tobi”) as its new director, a virtual school workshop, and a youth-oriented series, the Kinderfilmfest is also breaking new ground. Detailed information on the program of the KINDERFILMFEST will follow shortly. All the films can now be found here.


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I predatori

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Suzanna Andler


Closing films

Another special feature of the 38th edition of the festival relates to the closing ceremony. Instead of one closing film, there will be six closing screenings this year. On the evening of July 10, the following films and series will be shown at various venues: ERNA AT WAR by Henrik Ruben Genz, starring Trine Dyrholm; THE PREDATORS by Pietro Castellitto; MAINSTREAM by Gia Coppola, with Andrew Garfield; SUZANNA ANDLER by Benoît Jacquot; the animated film SNOTTY BOY by Marcus H. Rosenmüller; and, in cooperation with Seriencamp, the series GLAUBEN by Daniel Prochaska, based on a screenplay by Ferdinand von Schirach.


15 venues: 8 open-air locations and 7 festival cinemas

So where will all these films be screened? True to the festival’s motto “Citywide Live”, the film festival is cooperating with nine outdoor venues in Munich. Popular and established open-air institutions are on board, as are unusual and resourceful locations off the beaten track that will temporarily become open-air theaters:

Kino am Olympiasee; Kino, Mond & Sterne; POPUP SOMMERKINO in the courtyard of the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF); Institut français; Bahnwärter Thiel; Sugar Mountain; Fünf Höfe; Pasinger Fabrik.

It is particularly gratifying that some of the traditional film festival theaters with large auditoriums are joining in again. Thus, the premieres of the previous evening will be screened in a 5 p.m. slot at the ASTOR Film Lounge at ARRI, the City Kinos, the Gloria Palast, the Rio Filmpalast, and the Filmtheater Sendlinger Tor. In addition, the Amerikahaus in the Museum District and the Carl-Orff-Saal in the festival center at the Gasteig will be used as Filmfest theaters.


Guests and Filmmakers Live!

A film premiere is of course not complete without guests. Whenever possible, members of the cast and crew of the films being screened will be in attendance. In all cases, however, there will be pre-recorded Q&As with the filmmakers, which will be available for viewing prior to the respective screenings. In addition, there will be extensive “Filmmakers Live!” discussions via video with selected guests (such as CineMerit award-winner Robin Wright) that will be posted online.


Cinemerit Wright


The four guests of honor

As announced last week, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will at this year’s open-air edition be honoring no fewer than four outstanding women who have played a major role in shaping international cinema both in front of and behind the camera. The legendary Senta Berger and US actress and director Robin Wright will each be honored with the CineMerit Award for their achievements in the art of film. Multitalented artist Franka Potente will receive the Margot Hielscher Award, while internationally renowned, multiple award-winning Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska will be honored in a special tribute.


New German TV Movies and New German Cinema

We’ve also already announced the films in the New German TV Movies (12 films) and Neues Deutsches Kino (14 films) sections. All the films in these two sections will be screened as world premieres. Both the Bernd Burgemeister TV Movie Award and the German Cinema New Talent Award, as well as other prizes, will again be presented this year.


Opening film

The opening film will be announced this Monday afternoon (June 7) during an online press briefing and shortly thereafter as a news release.


Advance ticket sales

Online ticket sales will be conducted via the FILMFEST MÜNCHEN website as well as partly via the advance booking platforms of the partnering venues. The Filmfest Webshop of Filmfest partner München Ticket and their advance sales outlets will also be integrated again. Tickets are expected to go on sale during the week of June 21.