Bright Lights, Big Cinema
Glamour and art meet on the red carpet at this year’s Berlinale film festival. Celebrate 65 years of great film in Berlin with Lauren Oyler as she delves into the past and present of this can’t-miss-it annual event.
Put on your film critic hat for this year's Berlinale Film Festival.
The bright light in every Berliner’s otherwise dreary post-Christmas calendar is, without a doubt, the Berlin International Film Festival. Taking place this year from 5–15 Feb, the festival also known as the Berlinale brings locals and visitors together for about 400 films that range from major international premieres to art house experiments by little-known directors.
Despite its status as one of the most important film festivals in the world, the Berlinale is different from Cannes or Sundance; like the city that hosts it, it is laid back and very accessible. While your chances of spotting George Clooney or Tilda Swinton in a Mitte restaurant increase dramatically this time of year, the festival also draws many up-and-coming artists for the Berlinale Talent Campus, where young filmmakers get to learn tips from some of the almost 20,000 industry professionals that descend on the city.
All the films are screened with English subtitles, and most showings are also open to the public, though your chances of getting tickets vary wildly depending on the film and venue. Tickets are sold three or four days in advance at the Potsdamer
Platz Arkaden (Alte Potsdamer Str. 7, www.potsdamer-platz-arkaden.de), Kino
International (Karl-Marx-Allee 33, www.yorck.de), and the Haus der Berliner
Festspiele, ranging in price from €8 to €12. For an additional surcharge, you can also purchase a limited number of tickets online before the screening you want to attend, but the usual rules for pre-sales apply: indemand showings sell out fast.
The Berlinale’s not just for film buffs, either. The festival is divided into sections that will appeal to expert cineastes as well as those who can’t tell a Jean-Luc Godard from a James Cameron. The "Competition" category encompasses the most talkedabout feature-length premieres – the top-notch international cinema that lures so many celebrities to Berlin each year. "Panorama" consists of independent and art house films, while "Forum" covers avantgarde and experimental works – not for the faint of heart. There are also categories to highlight contemporary German cinema, shorts, and movies for younger viewers. Rounded out with a slew of presentations on classics, interdisciplinary connections between film and other creative areas, cinema personalities, and other topics, the Berlinale can pack your schedule – and then some. www.berlinale.de
Clockwise from left: Actress Haru Huroki gets the Silver Bear; George Clooney with Bill Murray and John Goodman; Festival opening.