Blog

Keeping it real

Oliver Armknecht
Oliver Armknecht

Looking back at a hopeful past: this year’s documentaries at the Munich International Film Festival 

Keeping it real

PETRA KELLY – ACT NOW!
FOTO: Bildersturm Filmproduktion

Documentaries allow us to become acquainted with unfamiliar situations and environments, learn more about people’s day-to-day lives, and get up close and personal with notable individuals. The latter applies to PETRA KELLY – ACT NOW!, the film that’s opening the New German Cinema section. Using a slew of original recordings and interviews, it memorializes this environmental activist and politician, who had a decisive role in West Germany in the 1980s. A phenomenal German export takes center stage in BORN TO BE WILD – THE STORY OF STEPPENWOLF: singer John Kay and bassist Nick St. Nicholas, who come from Germany, did their part to create the legendary song in the film’s title, which became an anthem about feeling free. Freedom is also the subject of a third major portrait, KRISHNAMURTI, THE REVOLUTION OF SILENCE, about the influential spiritual philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, who in the early 20th century sought to achieve complete spiritual freedom through meditation. LANDRIÁN in turn pays tribute to Nicolás Guillén Landrián, Cuba’s first black filmmaker. The screening also includes some of his short films from the 1960s. 

Landrian Online4

LANDRIÁN/LANDRIÁN SHORTS

Les Miennes Online2

(Y)OUR MOTHER

The In Between Online3

THE IN BETWEEN

Documentaries are, of course, not reserved for the famous and influential. It’s exciting to find out about the lives of people one would never have met otherwise. Who are they? What is their story? (Y)OUR MOTHER, for example, takes us to the Rif Mountains of Morocco, where a family must face some old secrets and own up to its past. In FRAGMENTS OF ICE, Ukrainian director Maria Stoianova weaves footage of her father, who filmed his tours as a figure skater for Soviet Ukraine, into a work that deals with memories. THE IN BETWEEN also features a personal journey into someone’s past, as a young woman returns to her hometown when her brother dies. She’s reminded of what it means to be a teenager living on the border shared by Texas and Mexico. 

The four teenage friends in the semi-fictional O CHALE, on the other hand, are looking toward the future. Their basketball court in Ghana is a place to gather and think about the future — amid sports, friendship, and searching for one’s identity. The young girls of SISTERQUEENS, by contrast, express themselves through music; three friends aged 9 to 11 are involved in a rap project, defying gender stereotypes. 

Die Schule Der Frauen Marie Online1

THE SCHOOL OF WOMEN

Realm Of Satan Online1

REALM OF SATAN

O Chale Online3

O CHALE

Two further documentaries deal with the role of women in patriarchal societies. In THE SCHOOL OF WOMEN, five female classmates from drama school meet again decades later to talk about their experiences, not all of which were positive. BLACK BOX DIARIES describes how journalist Shiori Ito was raped by an older colleague and litigated the crime in public — a taboo in conservative Japan, where preserving one’s reputation is all-important. 

Social issues are, as always, at the forefront of the Munich International Film Festival. Whether it’s the provocative film REALM OF SATAN, which offers an inside look at the controversial Church of Satan, A POEM FOR LITTLE PEOPLE, about a team of volunteers in eastern Ukraine, or DOPPELGÄNGERS³, about a dress rehearsal for colonizing space, all three films pose the question of how we can or should live together as human beings. The men and women in BALOMANIA send elaborately decorated hot-air balloons into the sky in perilous guerrilla actions — to the annoyance of the authorities, who impose severe penalties. UNDER A BLUE SUN takes us to the Negev desert in Israel, where RAMBO III was filmed on a military base many years ago — a special-effects expert recollects. There’s no doubt we will recognize Mother Nature as the greatest artist as we become acquainted with the fascinating world of moths and butterflies in the meditative, essayistic film THE NIGHT VISITORS and admire the diversity of these often-overlooked insects. 

See also

Summer cinema of superlatives
Blog

Summer cinema of superlatives

July 17 2024

In cooperation with Kino am Königsplatz, organized by Kinoliebe, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN presents two evenings in the unique open-air location and one evening at Kino, Mond & Sterne - with great cinema and a star visit!

It's raining awards!
Blog

It's raining awards!

July 6 2024

The 41st FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is coming to an end, all prizes have been awarded. Here is an overview of all winners and the juries' statements.

Getting out of a rut
Blog

Getting out of a rut

July 1 2024

In idyllic backwaters, many a struggle for survival lies just under the surface