Munich mining indie cred

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MUNICH -- While Germany's A-list film festival in Berlin is very much about the business of film, its smaller sister in Munich has developed a congenial touch for mixing the professional with the personal.

"Last year, Jonathan Demme and his wife rented bicycles and went for a swim in the Isar," festival organizer Andreas Stroehl said. "He gave interviews wearing shorts, with his hair all wet."

This year's 25th anniversary edition, set for June 22-30, also will feature visits from film heavyweights. Richard Linklater and Werner Herzog will present major retrospectives of their work, and William Friedkin and Kevin Kline will be in town to receive CineMerit Awards for lifetime achievement.

"It's a directors' festival," Stroehl said.

The fest's 25-year history is a study in launching international careers. The Coen brothers' "Blood Simple" and Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" had their German premieres in Munich. Virtually all of the films in this year's 200-odd slate are German, international or world premieres.

The festival also has its own intimate approach to film marketing. Now in its second year, the MatchMaker program brings together film reps with the German distribution industry -- one on one as opposed to the more anonymous context of a full-fledged market.

"We saw that there was a need to coordinate the networking aspect of the festival, but we wanted a more subtle approach," Stroehl said. "We know the films, and we know the German distribution industry -- and much to our surprise, there has been interest not only on the part of sellers but also from the buyers as well."
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