Around Germany

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Berlinale, Berlin International Film Festival

Berlin International Film Festival, whose first edition was in 1951, is one of the major cultural events in the German capital. During the ten days of the Berlinale, which this year will take place from February 6 to 16, the whole city is involved, and the logo, a bear, is a constant presence in the large billboards and posters available in all the stores and tourist places of Berlin.

In 1951, some U.S. military movie lovers exiled in Berlin during the Cold War years, decided to give significance to their passion, and perhaps even to their plenty of free time, arranging the first edition of Berlinale with what they had available.

After more than half a century of revolutions and involutions, we must admit that the idea was one of those great ones that had the potential to go far. And they’ve gone far actually, as in this 21st century centered around the Internet and global communication, we still realize that the amount of editions is not an end in itself, but rather evidence even of its quality. To better understand what we’re talking about, it’s enough to make a comparison between the Berlinale and the other two famous European film festivals, those held in Cannes and Venice.

Since we’re talking about movies, the universally recognized yardstick to measure the object is the number of tickets sold or seats occupied at the movie theaters, and this case, facts are dramatic: 9.500 for Cannes, 36.000 for Venice, 200.000 for Berlin, already sold out this year a month before.

And reading about a community of 4690 young filmmakers from 133 countries and a city of 3.5 million inhabitants fully involved in this event – from the trendiest disco club Mitte to the last dairy shop in Kreuzberg – for ten days, February 6-16, we are even a bit jealous and tempted to just head for the first flight to Berlin.

An example of how quantity and quality go hand in hand with regard to this event is Berlinale Talents, dedicated to young artists, directors, producers, scriptwriters and all sorts of representatives from the film industry. We’re talking about three hundred participants from 79 different countries, selected from more than 4,000 candidates who applied to participate in the meetings and workshops. This year for the first time Berlinale Talents will be hosted within the European Film Market in a Canon area called “market hub” where young professionals can meet and share ideas with other industry professionals.

The names of the jurors who will judge the films in the contest and award the Golden Bear to the best work during the competition were finally released in the first few days of January. American producer and screenwriter James Schamus will preside over the jury, while the reviewers’ group includes, among others, Barbara Broccoli, daughter of the well-known 007 films producer Albert Broccoli, the beautiful Danish actress Trine Dyrholm as well as Iranian Mitra Farahani and American Greta Gerwig, but also French director Michel Gondry, and the two actors Tony Leung and Christoph Waltz.

In terms of numbers it is worth mentioning also the nearly 20,000 insiders, and among them, the heroic 4200 film journalists from more than 100 countries. More than 400 films will be screened this year divided into the usual five sections, including the main one that will award the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear. The other sections are: Panorama – a novelty for small independent productions; Forum – which includes feature films and documentaries about the different political and social realities in the world; Generation – dedicated to children and young people; Perspektive Deutsches Kino dedicated to great classics. Events in the events include the European Film Market, the major annual trade show for production and distribution industries, and the aforementioned Talent Campus.

However, the real happening of this festival is the host city, which literally puts itself at the disposal of the event, with every street, every store, every bus featuring posters of Berlinale’s bear logo. You can sense the emotional involvement in the amount of people there to meet directors, actors and journalists, as well as in the over 200,000 tickets sold in advance to attend the screenings at the many movie theatres scattered around the city.

Someone said that cinematography is the art of the gods, as it recreates life with its emotions and its colors; if this is true then Berlin is its Olympus we its cantors: “Sing, O goddess, the great party of the Berlin Film Festival…”.

Photo by Siebbi

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