FILM: Filmfest München
June 26-July 3

Maybe one of the most laidback, casual film festival scenes around. Sort of like an Oktoberfest - with films. Beat that.

It's also the second-largest annual film festival in Germany, after the Berlinale.

About 180 films screen this year, including "The Saddest Music in the World" and "The Motorcycle Diaries".

Film festival venues along the Munich Movie Mile stretch from Rio-Kino to Gasteig, theaters in Forum am Deutschen Museum, to the MaxX and finally to the Munich Filmmuseum - but they're all well within walking distance.

On the program this year, German feature films and TV movies, new French cinema and American indies. This year's retrospective honors the somewhat oddball work of Finnish directors Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, both of whom will attend the festival.

The Kaurismäkis collaborate frequently with musical co-horts"Leningrad Cowboys", a Finnish rock 'n roll band which started out as a joke and, inexplicably, turned into a real band. A real strange band.


"The Motorcycle Diaries"
In 1952, two young Argentines, Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado, set out on a road trip to discover Latin America.

Ernesto is a 23-year-old medical student specializing in leprology, and Alberto, 29, is a biochemist. With a highly romantic sense of adventure, the two friends leave their familiar surroundings in Buenos Aires on a rickety 1939 Norton 500.

The bike breaks down in the course of their eight-month journey, but they press onward, hitching rides along the way, eventually arriving at Macchu Piccu, and then a leper colony deep in the Peruvian Amazon. Their experiences at the colony awaken within them the men they will later become, by defining the ethical and political journey they will take in their lives.

Based on the journals of both Alberto Granado and the man who would later become known to the world as "El Che," "The Motorcycle Diaries" follows a journey of self-discovery, tracing the spiritual origins of a revolutionary heart.

"Grand Theft Parsons": Based on the true story of musician Gram Parsons, who died of an overdose in 1973.

Parsons and road manager Phil Kaufman made a pact in life that whoever died first would bury the other in the Joshua Tree National Park. Parsons' death prompts Kaufman to fulfill his promise and a very odd road trip ensues.

"The Saddest Music in the World": It's 1933 and damn cold in Winnipeg. The Great Depression is in full bloom. But beer baroness Lady Port-Huntly(Isabella Rossellini) has other fish to fry; she announces a self-indulgent competition to determine the saddest music in the world.

Woebegone producer Chester Kent and his amnesiac girlfriend Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) bounce home to Kent's native Winnipeg to vie for the prize.

The scenario devolves into a mélange of melodrama and loopy social satire, but despite the lunacy, it all gets sorted out in the end.

Find it: Various venues, but fest central is the Forum am Deutschen Museum
Museumsinsel 1
Munich, Germany
Hours: June 25-July 3, 9am-7pm
Get there: Take any S-Bahn in the direction of the Ostbahnhof to Isartorplatz
Get info: +49-89-381904-0

Find more film festival listings in the June 2004 issue of "Arte Six".