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.pots­, Kino

In­ter­na­tional (Karl-Marx-Allee 33,, 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.ber­li­

Clock­wise from left: Ac­tress Haru Huroki gets the Sil­ver Bear; George Clooney with Bill Mur­ray and John Good­man; Fes­ti­val open­ing.

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