Politics and reflection

Antonia Mahler
Antonia Mahler

FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is screening a variety of documentaries this year.

Politics and reflection

The documentary or hybrid narrative is often superior to fictional formats in certain ways. These include political subjects such as those covered in abundance at the festival this year.

FOUR DAUGHTERS is an experimental documentary by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania. A woman has four daughters, two of whom have become radicalized and have gone off to join the Islamic State in Libya. The director of this film in the CineMasters section uses professional actresses to fill the gap the missing daughters have left in the story.

The young directors of WAKING UP IN SILENCE accompany children who have fled Ukraine and are now living in a former Wehrmacht barracks in Germany. As the children learn a new language and adapt to their surroundings, connections emerge between the past of that location and the present day of the young protagonists.

In 1945, after his liberation from Auschwitz, Yechiel De-Nur begins to write. His books sell millions of copies and are translated into 32 languages. He treats his psychological wounds with LSD and writes an account of his experiences that changes everything. THE RETURN FROM THE OTHER PLANET is being screened as a documentary at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN.

Les Filles D'olfa Online

four daughters

Waking Up In Silence Online1

waking up in silence

TRFTOP Online1 (1)


War crimes and the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are the focus of WAR AND JUSTICE. The focus is on Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC’s first chief prosecutor. This film raises the question of whether those who fight wars of aggression can be brought to justice when the most powerful nations remain unwilling to recognize the ICC as a global court.

Taking a stand for justice and equality is this year’s cooperation with Museum Brandhorst, curated by artist A. L. Steiner and given a queer feminist focus. Titled URANIANS, this section includes APHRODITE URANIA, a set of short films which includes documentary shorts and two feature-length documentaries.

In ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY, philosopher and trans activist Paul B. Preciado delivers a cinematic love letter to Virginia Woolf, revealing how her character Orlando has become a reality. In the film, 25 trans and non-binary people slip into the role of Orlando and tell their own stories.

THE STROLL, also part of the URANIANS section, tells the story of the transgender women of color who dominated New York’s legendary Meatpacking District for years. There, an underground scene once formed in which trans sex workers lived and loved after many years of being pushed to the margins of society.

Orlando Online3


The Stroll Online

the stroll

Ninety percent of all deepfakes on the Internet are pornographic in nature. The self-referential documentary ANOTHER BODY deals with the fight against pornographic deepfakes and their consequences. Victims of deepfakery resolve to join forces and track down a perpetrator. In doing so, they discover a disturbing parallel realm full of misogyny.

Equally critical of the media, AND THE KING SAID, WHAT A FANTASTIC MACHINE humorously sheds light on the rapid rise of the moving image and the serious influence it is having on present-day society. It shows how visual media have changed our behavior, while providing insightful information even to a very young audience.

Kleber Mendonça Filho ventures a look not only at the media, but at the medium of cinema itself. In PICTURES OF GHOSTS, the director explores his hometown of Recife in northern Brazil. He focuses on the disappearance of the palatial movie theaters and on the ruins of the once fashionable center of town and its seaside neighborhood.

Retratos Fantasmas Online1

pictures of ghosts

Fragements Of Paradise Online1

Fragments of paradise

Two other documentary works deal with filmmaking itself. FRAGMENTS OF PARADISE gives an insight into the history of US indie cinema by looking at Jonas Mekas, a pioneer of the avant-garde. For more than 70 years, Mekas documented his life in personal and experimental diary films and made a groundbreaking contribution to US independent filmmaking. YOU CAN CALL ME BILL, meanwhile, tells the fascinating life story of iconic actor William Shatner, alias Captain Kirk, which spans nine decades.

Things remain very personal when three Icelandic women, Álfrún, Hrefna, and Saga, give themselves one more year to fulfill their dream of becoming pop stars, even though they’re about to turn forty. The documentary BAND portrays their search for success and artistic fulfillment.

Sylvain Cruiziat, the director of BOYZ, follows his younger brother and his expat friends through their carefree life as students in Munich. The end of their bromance is nigh, as the boys will soon be parting ways. Here it becomes clear that behind the façade of male youth there is often more than meets the eye.

This year’s documentaries bring complex life stories and political biographies into focus, offering us revealing glimpses of unfamiliar situations. Digital media and their psychological effects on our lives are an important aspect that we must think about.

See also

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