Munich fest takes a page from Cannes

Will screen winning films; also creates cash prizes

MUNICH -- The Filmfest Muenchen, Munich's sleepy summer film festival that has always been considered a second sister to the Berlin International Film Festival, is taking a shot at the next rung by creating a couple of lucrative prizes for non-German films.

The ARRI-Zeiss Award for best foreign film, accompanied by a 50,000 euro ($78,000) cash prize, will make its debut at this year's 26th annual Filmfest, set for June 20-28, organizers said Friday.

The Cinevision Award, worth 12,000 euros ($19,000), will go to the best non-German debut film at the festival.

Two U.S. films -- "Ibid," a road movie by Russell Friedenberg about two psychiatric center escapees, and Jake Mahaffy's "Wellness," about a traveling salesman cheated out of his life savings, are in the running for the Cinevision Award.

Among the films competing for the ARRI-Zeiss Award are two films that vied for this year's Palme d'Or: "Gomorra," by Italian director Matteo Garrone, and Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir," from Israel. Also in contention are "Dangerous Parking," British actor-director-writer Peter Howitt's drama about an independent film director, and the Iranian film "Lonely Tune of Tehran" by Saman Salur, which also debuted at Cannes.

This year's Palme d'Or winner, "The Class," will open the Filmfest, which will screen 237 films from 41 countries.

Other U.S.-made films on the program include Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth," which stars German actor Bruno Ganz alongside Tim Roth; Brian De Palma's Iraq war film "Redacted"; Jonathan Demme's documentary portrait of former president Jimmy Carter, "Man From Plains"; the Robert De Niro/Bruce Willis starrer "What Just Happened?" by Barry Levinson; and Abel Ferrara's love letter to the legendary Chelsea Hotel, "Chelsea on the Rocks."

British actress and Oscar winner Julie Christie will be in Munich toward the end of the festival to pick up her CineMerit Award for her life's work. She will be introduced by director Hal Hartley, who worked with Christie on the 2001 fantasy drama "No Such Thing."

Munich documentarian Peter Schamoni's "Botero Born in Medellin" will close the festival. The painter Fernando Botero and German narrator Mario Adorf will join Schamoni at the gala June 28.
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