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A little bird told me

Michael Stadler
Michael Stadler

A pig is trained to be a puppy, an alpaca is a loyal family member, cows and fish sing, and a poodle is given an award at Cannes. Take it from the horse’s mouth: these animal roles in some of the films at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN make us squeal with delight, but they also make us think about our relationship to other living beings and our entire ecosystem.

A little bird told me

Babs actually wanted a puppy for her 9th birthday, but her father wouldn’t grant her wish, since he’s allergic to dog fur. Unexpectedly, Babs’s grandpa shows up on their doorstep after spending several years in America and moves into their shed. He takes Babs to a farm and gives her a different animal: a piglet, which Babs immediately adores.

“Oink” is what the girl names the piglet, and OINK is also the name of this stop-motion film by Dutch director Mascha Halberstad, who came to the film’s Munich premiere last Sunday to present it in person at the Kinderfilmfest. Halberstad has left in the meantime, but you can still follow the adventures of Oink in a matinee screening on Saturday at 11 am in the Theatersaal at the Amerikahaus (English subtitles, German voiceover, rated for ages 6 and up).

Halberstad and her team have spent years putting together this funny comedy, which also takes a critical look at our consumption of meat. In the community of Moppel, the annual competition for sausage king is approaching — and Oink is in danger of being made into sausage. Acting like a pig also gets him in trouble. Manners are important to Babs’s mother, who threatens to kick the filthy animal out of the house, so Babs enrolls Oink in an obedience school for puppies. The little pig is finally treated like the pet that Babs wanted to begin with. But is Oink capable of graduating? Shouldn’t a pig be allowed to be a pig?

War Pony Online

war pony

Britney has also been to obedience school, but Britney is in fact a poodle and a real film pro. For her performance in WAR PONY, the debut feature film by Riley Keough and Gina Gammell, Britney was honored with the Palm Dog award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Unfortunately, Britney wasn’t able to attend the award ceremony, because stars often have other things to do than go to award ceremonies. Two other poodles accepted the Palm Dog on her behalf, however, and the directors offered their thanks for the award via Zoom.

Originally, they wanted to call the film “Beast”, after the character played by Britney, in honor of co-writer Bill Reddy’s dog of that name, which died recently. In the film, the animal belongs to 23-year-old Bill, a young man who grows up on the Pine Ridge Reservation and ekes out a living with various activities, including raising poodles. A series of impulsive decisions throws Bill’s life off track, leaving him to follow the twists and turns of his fate like a puppy chasing a stick.

The directors have succeeded in making a haunting feature film about life on a reservation, told from the indigenous perspective. They received the Camera d’Or for best debut, matching the number of awards earned by their canine star, Britney. Tomorrow, Friday, at 6 pm at Filmtheater Sendlinger Tor and Saturday at 10 pm at Rio 1, you can admire WAR PONY and Britney’s acting skills once again. It’s wonderful to see how calmly the poodle waits in the car for his master and accepts his role as the producer of offspring. A skillful performance.

Cuidando Al Sol Online1

sun & Daughter

LVQ Online1 (1)

THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE

An alpaca in Catalina Razzini’s film SUN & DAUGHTER is similarly impressive. The animal, called Panchito, is treated by little Lucía like a member of the family. Panchito’s fur is sometimes stylishly coiffed with a comb; otherwise, he dutifully lets himself be pulled around as a beast of burden. Set on a sunny island in the middle of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, this film tells the story of Lucía’s coming-of-age as she longs for her father. He left the island one day, and it’s time for Lucía to let go of him. At least Panchito stays by her side. This film will be screened tomorrow, Friday, at 9 am in HFF Kino 1 (English subtitles, German voiceover, rated for ages 6 and up, recommended for ages 8 and up).

Animals do express what they feel, but not in words. Humans have to be attentive to this, which they unfortunately aren’t always. That’s all the more reason for Chilean director Francisca Alegría to give a voice to both the fish that wash up on the banks of the polluted Rio Cruces and the cows that graze in the pastures of a nearby dairy farm. In THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE, the animals sing of their suffering with an eye to the future, and because that might not suffice, a dead woman emerges from the water to haunt her family. Can new alliances be formed to avert the disasters that might strike? We’ll know more on Saturday at 8 pm at the Filmmuseum.

See also

The worth of living
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The worth of living

November 30 2022

In cooperation with the NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN will show the documentary A BREATH OF LIFE by Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini on Wednesday, December 7, at 7 pm. Admission is free. The two co-directors will be present and will have a conversation with Filmfest programmer Julia Weigl after the film.

New German Cinema in the Westpark Yurt
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New German Cinema in the Westpark Yurt

October 27 2022

On four Thursdays in November, the Gans am Wasser yurt in Munich’s Westpark will be turned into a screening room, as films are shown on the big screen in a casual, autumnal living room atmosphere, and all absolutely free of charge.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

July 4 2022

The 39th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN came to an end this weekend with the Award Ceremony. After two years of the pandemic, we’ve managed a fresh start!