As this year's Filmfest München is to unfold from 27 June, the influential German film festival will be presenting a retrospective devoted to Mads Brügger and his special brand of investigative journalism.
The retrospective will include the screening of his four films to date, 'The Red Chapel', 'The Ambassador', 'The Saint Bernard Syndicate' and 2019's 'Cold Case Hammarskjöld', which will also be running in the international Cinemasters Competition.
According to the München festival programmers, Mads Brügger is "a virtuoso" in exploring the boundary between documentary and feature films:
"With loads of black humor, Brügger gets to the bottom of things, whether it's theater of the absurd in North Korea, raising Saint Bernard dogs in China, or diamond-smuggling and conspiracies in Africa. Provocatively and self-referentially, Brügger himself appears in front of the camera and searches for facts in the most engaging way possible – using a hidden camera and at times putting himself in mortal danger." Read more on the festival's website.
Cold Case drawing headlines
Making its German premiere at München, Mads Brügger's 'Cold Case Hammarskjöld' opened in January at Sundance, attracting much attention in British and American media for its scandalous revelations. At Sundance, it took home the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award.
In the film, we follow Brügger and Swedish investigator Göran Björkdahl attempting to clarify the possible assassination of Dag Hammarskjöld. Together they return to the place in Africa where the UN Secretary-General lost his life in a mysterious plane crash in 1961. In Zambia, Congo and South Africa, however, the two men encounter traces of evil and cruelty that exceed their wildest imagination.
At Sundance, reviewers were warmly in favour of the director's ambitious methods. For Cineuropa, "Brügger’s film reminds us how feature filmmaking can be a consciousness-raising force. And as a bonus, it’s also hilarious, charming and deeply humanist." Read review.
US theatrical release by Magnolia
Since Sundance, 'Cold Case Hammarskjöld' has travelled the festival circuit, winning at such festivals as One World Human Rights in the Czech Republic, The Hague Movies That Matter, It's All True in Brazil and Docs Against Gravity in Poland.
This June, the film screened at Encounters Documentary Film Festival in South Africa, a country that plays a pivotal role in the film's revelations, and it will be running in competition next month at South Africa's biggest film festival in Durban.
In the US, it has won awards at Greenwich and Lighthouse, New Jersey, and is selected for July's Hamptons and Stony Brooks film festivals. Theatrical and on demand release by Magnolia is set for 16 August. IndieWire's Anne Thompson names 'Cold Case Hammarskjöld' as one of this year's "serious" contenders for Oscar consideration in the 2020 documentary feature field.
Filmfest München will be running 27 June – 6 July. See more at filmfest-muenchen.de.