Munich Film Festival was a blast. I was nervous about
attending a festival in a country with a language of which I don't
speak a word. I quickly discovered, however, that English is
widely spoken in Munich, especially among the staff and participants
of the festival. Local restaurants didn't always translate the
menus (and why should they?), but we never failed to communicate our
needs ("pilsner, bitte") and were invariably met with a
friendly response no matter how ridiculous our mangling of the
dialect. The staff and participants were as friendly as one could
hope to find at a festival and this was a group of people that were
clearly involved because they love film.
first festival event was a trip down the river Isar on a log raft
for the participating filmmakers. This was a brilliant idea and, as
a completely frivolous location-based outing, one that every
festival should incorporate into their agenda. The reasons are
two-fold: the filmmakers get to meet the staff in a no-pressure
environment, free from the logistical and practical constraints of a
panel discussion or other industry event, and the filmmakers get to
meet one another before the festival's official start. The
latter is hugely important for building a sense of community amongst
the filmmakers. I attended more films and met more people than
I otherwise might have as a direct result of the raft trip.
river was slow and it was bloody hot, but that did not diminish the
pleasure of sipping beer from the complementary earthenware beer
steins and munching on liverkase ( neither liver nor cheese).
A curious feature of the trip was the frequent sightings of naked
old men sunning themselves on the shore. The kids were good
natured about it, chalking it up to some kind of curious Bavarian
custom. Oh, and the guys piloting the raft really were wearing
lederhosen, okay? It's not just some goofy cliché.
had to leave the raft before the final leg of the journey because my
first screening was scheduled for 5:45 PM that evening, which
unfortunately meant that we missed Willi Michl, the blues guitarist,
who performed on the raft. We did get to meet him, though. A highly
unusual fellow; while a native German, he was dressed in full American Indian garb, from leather moccasins to a feather in his
long braid. He is known locally as the "Bavarian Indian."
No idea who these guys are (found picture)
spite of being programmed opposite a German language favorite, the EvenHand
screening was well attended. I did my customary routine of
watching the first 15 minutes and popping back in for the last.
Overall good response, although not as many gasps during the
emotional and violent climax of the film as I would have liked.
Is it a cultural thing? I don't know, but American audiences
have always reacted with greater (audible) emotion to the end of the film.
Wednesday evening (30.06) I participated in one panel discussion,
along with a few other filmmakers, the theme of which seemed to be
the promotion of festival films. It was apparently worthwhile;
there was an increase in attendance for the second EvenHand
screening of about 30 people.
programming highlights included Xan Cassavetes' excellent
Channel: A Magnificent Obsession and Mark Milgard's Dandelion,
which featured stunning cinematography by our very own Tim Orr. The
festival also programmed a whole series of surfing films, most of
which were screened in an outdoor venue. Pretty cool (when it
wasn't raining torrents, which it often was). I saw Step
into Liquid, a surf documentary directed by Dana Brown, the
son of Bruce Brown, the legendary director of The
Endless Summer. A beautiful film, but honestly, how
many interviews of surfers can one bear to watch? To
summarize: "The wave was awesome."
and the Detectives (Emil und die Detektive), an early
German language Billy Wilder film, was a great treat. The kids
loved it in spite of not speaking any German at all. I highly
recommend the film for movie buffs of all ages.
And did I mention the spontaneous filmmaker party?
The real fun at a festival happens after hours, in this case in a
doc producer's hotel room. Staff and festival participants mingled
-- and ordered room service (how cool is that!!!).
Some ham, perhaps?
is a beautiful city with many tourist attractions. While we
hardly saw them all, the highlights for us were the Duetschen
Museum, a museum of technology and transportation, the Bayerisches
Nationalmuseum and Nymphenburg, an insanely huge palace.
Getting around was a snap with busses, trams and a subway that were
all pretty easy to figure out. We ate in one of the requisite
beer gardens one night, the Augustinerbrau. I can't say I'm a
huge fan of the Bavarian cuisine (or the surly waitstaff), but it
was good stuff for an evening's repast and they do know how to brew
a killer beer in Munich, often served in glasses the size of fish
Munich is also a city that has a creative undercurrent
not found in many urban centers, probably due to the fact that it is
a university town. As we marched around the city, I began to
obsessively catalogue the innumerable and fabulous little stickers
and spray-painted stencils that I found on lampposts and electrical
boxes. This, I discovered, is an excellent use for the crappy
little camera built into my cell phone.
If you are responsible for any of these stickers and want me to
make a link to your website, send me an email.
festivals are staffed by volunteers and most of them are doing it
because the love it, but the people at the Munich Film Festival were
more attentive and more enthusiastic than most. I would not
hesitate to attend a future edition of the Munich Film Festival with
another film if I am lucky enough to be invited again.
Pretty swell architecture, too
other news, EvenHand
will be screening at Time & Space Limited in Hudson, New York on September 17th at
7:30 PM. TSL is a terrific arts, theater & film venue run
by Linda Mussman in a city that is experiencing an artistic
renaissance that is long overdue. Hudson is where we filmed the
Winston scene as a test of DV technology, lo those many years
In the meantime, off
I go to the northern wilds of Canada to continue tinkering with Annie Nocenti's script, Escalate,
which I hope to begin shopping around soon. Click on the title to
read the synopsis.
other news, I recently finished
reading Blue Blood, a great new memoir by a New York Police
Department Detective, Edward Conlon. As a service to readers of the
book, follow this link for a glossary of NYPD terms of art, slang
I guess I am in archive mode; another recent feature
of the Cypress Films website
This is a collection of contracts and agreements that we have used
for our film productions over the years. They range from book option
agreements to music license agreements, all free for you to cut and
I hope to be adding more contracts soon.
* * * * * * * * *
always, I am more than happy to do for other police departments
what we did for San Antonio's Bexar County
widows and orphan's fund, the 100 Club. We made a print
available for two benefit screenings that raised more than $6000. If
you want to discuss doing something similar for your department,
shoot me an e-mail.
EvenHand links page has many new
and interesting links, so please give it a visit. We also have a
spiffy new link graphic (below). If you put it on your site, we will
put your graphic and link on ours.
don't forget to visit the EvenHand
Store. We offer EvenHand posters, T-shirts and SLPD shoulder
patches, as well as the insanely popular "FAT COP" tank
top. There is some lively trading going on in the SLPD shoulder
patch department, so if you have a police patch you're interested in
trading, please also visit the EvenHand store.
The EvenHand listing on the
Internet Movie Database has accumulated some votes, but more are always welcome. If you have seen
the film, please take a minute and register your vote there. Thanks
to all who have left great reviews on the IMDb site! Here's a link:
levitate, somewhere in Austria
Here's some information on where you can find EvenHand
Nine Eleven: A Memoir
To buy our original September 11th memorial T-shirt, CLICK
All profits go to charity.
This work is
licensed under a Creative
Copyright © 2004 Cypress
Some rights reserved.