Admissions were up almost 10% to around 62,000 for the 25th anniversary of the Munich Film Festival, which closed with the world premiere of Rainer Kaufmann's Runaway Horse (Ein Fliehendes Pferd) based on the novel of the same name by Martin Walser.

This year's opening film - Eran Kolirin's feature debut The Band's Visit - was the title on everyone's lips during the festival's nine days winning the Bayern 3 Audience Award as well as the newly-created CineVision Award for international debuts.

The film's producer Eilon Ratzkovsky came to Munich on the festival's final weekend and received the Audience Award from US actress Christina Ricci who had used a break in shooting from the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer in Babelsberg to come down to the festival to also present Craig Brewer's Blake Snake Moan.

Meanwhile, Simon Gross's desert-set drama Fata Morgana, starring Matthias Schweighoefer, Marie Zielcke and Jean Hugues Anglade, received the prize for Best Direction at the Young German Cinema Support Awards sponsored by the HypoVereinsBank, Bavaria Film and local broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk.

The jury of film director Soenke Wortmann, Four Minutes producer Alexandra Kordes and actor Joachim Krol (Adam Resurrected) gave its prize for Best Screenplay to Jan Bonny and Christina Ebelt for Bonny's debut Counterparts (Gegenueber), which had its world premiere in the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes.

The best acting honours went to Valerie Koch (Die Anruferin) and Alexander Fehling (the lead in Robert Thalheim's Un Certain Regard title And Along Come Tourists).

Other prizes awarded during the festival week included:

  • The White Elephant to the Kinderfilmfest's opening film Silly's Sweet Summer (Bloede Muetze)
  • The Jetix Award for Michel Ocelot's animation feature Azur and Asmar
  • The One Future Award for Sherad Anthony Sanchez's The Woven Stories Of The Other.
The Bernhard Wicki Film Prize - 'The Bridge' - Peace Prize of German Cinema went to locally born and bred filmmaker Marco Kreuzpaintner for his first English language feature Trade. An honorary award was also presented at the ceremony to lead actor Kevin Kline who had come to Munich for the European premiere of this hard-hitting film on human trafficking between Mexico and the USA.

Also present were actors Cesar Ramos and Alice Bachleda-Curus and producers Roland Emmerich and Rosilyn Heller, as well as the German co-producers Jakob Claussen, Thomas Woebke, and Uli Putz.

During the ceremony Kline was also presented with the Film Festival's own CineMerit Award in recognition of his services to cinema by festival director Andreas Stroehl.

Veteran Hollywood director William Friedkin was also in town to pick up his own CineMerit Award ahead of the German premiere of his latest feature Bug.

The 25th anniversary edition saw festival director Stroehl staging a retrospective in honour of Werner Herzog and a showcase of the work of American indie Richard Linklater who was discovered internationally in 1990 at Munich through the screening of his first feature Slacker.

Linklater was in Munich this year to give Ulla Rapp, the programmer of the American independents sidebar for the last quarter of a century, a rousing send-off into retirement.

It was also announced that another programmer of the festival, Klaus Eder, would also be stepping down after 25 years of service.

Apart from several traditional industry get-togethers for the local film fund FFF Bayern, the film exporters association and the video industry trade body BVV, the festival also organised a new event this year - Book Meet Film - where nine publishers pitched 13 book properties with potential for being adapted for television or the cinema.