Wednesday, 11 July 2012

My Day At The Munich Film Festival 2012

Recently, I spent the day in Munich for the Munich Film Festival 2012. The festival ran from the 29th June up until the 7th July. I went on the Thursday with my better half. It was thanks to her that i had this opportunity because she studies Film Criticism and students where able to get passes at a great discounted price. We ventured out with the intention of catching an early afternoon screening of a film called Le Cochon De Gaza ( English title not translated but under the name of When Pigs Have Wings) which was a German dubbed only version of a film about a man who lives between Israel and Palestine. He goes fishing and catches a pig.  Of course being between Palestine and Israel… Pigs aren't exactly the most "desirable" creatures, if you know what I mean. The film basically follows the guy becoming friends with the pig. Now, although that sounds hilarious, our tiredness took over so we slept for another hour. Yeah, shoot me. When we finally decided to set off, we took the train, enjoyed the scenery and finally made it to Munich which is a gorgeous city. Full of pretentious people but gorgeous all the same. After winning the battle with probably the most confusing train systems ever we finally made it to the building where we got our passes and to our joy, a nice big bag of swag.
Ooo... lovely bags o' swag!
My "Woody Allen" photo.
The cute handmade book showcasing Italian cinema.
The awesome chunky program.
 As you can see there was a hell of a lot of nice swag for Jeanny and I. Cosmetics that we could easily sell for €40+, some awesome 3D glasses from Sky, A hefty coffee table book version of the festival program, a cute little hand made notebook showcasing the Italian cinema at the festival and the mints and sweets. Not bad at all huh? That put a smile on our faces before we had even began to watch films. After marvelling at our swag for a while, we decided to work out what we wanted to watch so we could get tickets. Our main intention was to watch Killer Joe (William Friedkin) and 360 (Fernando Meirelles) as Jeanny needed to watch and critique these films for her course. Unfortunately, tickets where sold out so we had to look through the program and find some other films to watch. We found ourselves some nice little films.


(2012, dir: Keith Miller)

Now when you mention docudrama to me… I usually slap my face and sigh. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic examples out there but most of the time they are pretentious and dull. Welcome To Pine Hill however, did not fall under that description. The story follows a recently reformed drug dealer and gang member called Shannon Harper (actually played by himself) who has a somewhat steady job for an insurance company. Down the line he finds out some devastating news that makes him want to make peace with his past and the people he used to know and hang with. To tell you more about the story would do this film a real injustice. A powerful piece of film making that not only tells the devastating story of Shannon and the people in his life but also has an equally powerful message. From a technical point of view, this is a fantastically shot film, the handheld camera actually does what it intends to do and makes the audience feel (sometimes painfully and awkwardly" connected to Shannon's world. Minor complaints are some of the shots linger on too much which I understand symbolises the pain of our main character but it jet made the film run a little too long. Don't get me wrong, this film had me invested all the way through, especially with the fantastic, improvised performances from all the cast involved. Overall, this is one of the most genuinely touching and devastating films that I have seen in a long time and made me think a lot about some of the things in my life. You can't enjoy a film like this of course because the subject matter isn't enjoyable but this is a damn fine film that will have you hooked from start to finish. As far as I know, there is no information with regards to who owns the distribution rights for this film here in the UK for home release but all i can say is, there needs to be a deal done as soon as possible because people need to see this film. Thanks to this film I have also become aware of the Brooklyn Film Makers Collective. What more can I say about this film? It's not perfect by any means but it's a triumph all the same.

After being blown away by the screening we booked our tickets for the next film we wanted to watch but the screening was in a few hours so we decided to go for something to eat. Jeanny suggested a nice steakhouse called Maredo which is a chain in Germany. Being the hopeless, old fashioned romantic that I am, I thought it would be nice if we ate outside and absorbed the sunshine and the gorgeous architecture of Munich. That went well until we where struck by one of the most epic thunderstorms I have seen for a while. We fought the weather and finished our meal (which for me was a marinaded chicken steak with fries and a side dish of garlic bread… oh wait this isn't a food post!) like two mad people. So after defying a storm, we quickly made our way to our next screening which was a blast from the past.

The New Town Hall building and Orlando owned by the chef, Alfons Schubeck.
The "thunderous" view from Maredo.

(1988, dir: Mike Figges)

As part of the film festival, one of the main events was honouring the work and career of Melanie Griffith. Aside from this film there where a few other titles being screened. Films such as Something Wild as Working Girl to name just a couple. Now, why pick a film like this to watch at a festival? Well let me put it this way. You have a cast that mainly consists of Sting, Tommy Lee Jones, Sean Bean and Melanie Griffith and it's set in Newcastle! How could we not spend the night watching a film from the 80's that stars Sting and is set in Newcastle? I won't go into much detail regarding the story as this is a fairly old film that's been reviewed time and time again by better reviewers than I. All I will say is that is a great little story about corruption, betrayal, death and jazz! You have got Sting playing as a cool, foul mouthed owner of a jazz club (yes, there is a scene with Sting playing the double bass). Sean Bean who plays as your average Joe who gets a job cleaning at Sting's club… but becomes his right hand man. Tommy Lee Jones plays as a witty, sharp Texan businessman who wants Sting's club and you have Mlelanie Griffith who plays as call girl who sleeps with people for Tommy Lee Jones but falls in love with Sean Bean. Yeah, I'm sure you can see what happens. What you have is a funny, smart drama that is worth a watch if you haven't done so already. Has that classic, late 80's English film that you all know and love. Not bad at all…. did I mention it stars Sting?
Arty shot of the lights on the screen before watching Stormy Monday.
Well, those where the films that I caught at the Munich Filmfest. Yeah, I could have gone to other days but Jeanny was away for the first few days and could you imagine me trying to navigate Germany's  rail system? I could have joined Jeanny for the Friday but let's just say my stomach decided to be a mean son of a bitch so I had to stay at home… thank goodness I have a cute cat to keep me company. Overall, I enjoyed my day there and looking through the program, I have so much inspiration for films to watch.

Please click the links below regarding the films mentioned and website for the film festival itself. Hopefully, next time I will go for more than just a day and fingers crossed I will find some more awesome festivals to go to.


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