BERLIN 2002: Berlin Festival Concludes -- Kosslick Reflects; Hitler Considered, Teddy's Soiree
with articles by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE: 02.19.02) -- "Accept diversity" is the mantra that new Berlinale
Festival Director Dieter Kosslick uttered many times over the past two weeks
here in Berlin. It was the motto he unveiled as the guiding principle for
this year's event -- the slogan was even incorporated into the design of the
official Festival posters that were hung throughout this evolving city.
A Conversation With Dieter Kosslick
"We are in a special time after September 11th (and) I am a political
person," Kosslick told indieWIRE on Friday, as we sat down to discuss this
year's event in the Golden Bear lounge overlooking Potsdamer Platz. "The
festival reflects the situation in the world." Continuing he offered, "You
cannot go to a place like here, 800 meters away from Hitler's bunker...you
can't have a festival without reflecting the society."
This year's Berlinale jury honored such weighty films as "Sunday, Bloody
Sunday," Paul Greengrass' drama about the 1972 clash between British
soldiers and protestors in Northern Ireland. Additionally, Kosslick decided
to close the event Sunday night with a restored print of the controversial
Charlie Chaplin satire of Adolph Hitler, "The Great Dictator." Panorama
audiences picked up on the mood and selected the powerful documentary, "Im
Toten Winkel. Hitler's Sekretarin" (Blind Spot. Hitler's Secretary) as the
winner of the public prize.
Not that the 52nd Berlinale was without a lighter side. If anything, the
arrival of the Dieter Kosslick this year seems to add a ceretain levity to
the proceedings at times. Kosslick, known for his sharp wit, admitted that
he likes to have fun at film festivals. Hoping to inject the festivities
with a "children's birthday party atmosphere," Kosslick even jumped on stage
and grabbed a guitar to play alongside the German rock group BAP (documented
in a festival film by Wim Wenders).
A major accomplishment this year for Kosslick and his team was the
heightened focus on German films. With a background in financing here in
Germany, Kosslick decided to increase the presence of the cinema with the
Perspektive Deutsches Kino section of the Berlinale. Screenings were popular
from the start of the fest -- a showing of shorts, each made for 99 euros by
emerging German filmmakers, filled a CinemaxX theater to beyond capacity,
with attendees sitting on the staircases. Noshing on a sandwich as our
conversation continued, Kosslick told indieWIRE that he underestimated the
popularity of the sidebar and had to add screens each night.
The festival will continue its investment in emerging filmmakers next year
with the launch of the "Talent Campus," an initiative that Kosslick
trumpeted during the Berlinale and highlighted at last week's "Vision Day."
The "winter school" for 1,000 young filmmakers will be held for five days
during the 53rd Berlinale and Kosslick is tapping industry professionals to
participate in the event. Enthusiastically talking about his plans with
indieWIRE, Kosslick explained that he has been thrilled by the response so
far and offered that the Talent Campus will be a major focus at next year's
Asked to list the aspects of the Berlinale that he wants the Festival to be
known for under his reign as the chief, Kosslick explained, "I want to have
glamour, business, and young people." Pausing for a moment, he smiled, "You
have heard of Raindance," he asked, referring to the British independent
film festival. "Well, I want to have 'braindance," he quipped, adding that
he hopes to foster "discussions of the state of the art of the cinema."
"The weather, this I will guarantee," Kosslick joked, touting the terrific
weather that greeted his first year at the helm, as our conversation wrapped
up. Smiling slyly he added, "Everything else could change."
Hitler In Focus Closing Day
The impact of Adolph Hitler was felt on the last day of the Festival, with
resounding echoes of Dieter Kosslick's agenda for the festival. Attendees
gathered early Sunday for a press screening of the closing night film, "The
Great Dictator." In Charlie Chaplin's 1940 classic, he plays two roles: a
Jewish barber from the ghetto and Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, a
character seen as a direct parody of Hitler. Commenting on the film in his
1964 autobiography, Chaplin said, "Hitler must be laughed at." Continuing
though, he explained, "Had I known of the actual horrors of the German
concentration camps, I could not have made 'The Great Dictator'; I could not
have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis." The version screened
here in Berlin on Sunday is considered the "director's cut," clocking in at
"The Great Dictator" opened in New York in October of 1940, after a
significant amount of cutting and re-cutting by Chaplin. Concerns about the
impact of the film, were it to screen in certain areas of Europe, limited
the movies' international reach. It would not show in Europe until the end
of World War II. Hitler banned the film in all areas under his control and
Stalin did the same. It was not released in the Federal Republic of Germany
until 1958. In March of 1941, the movie was nominated for five Academy
Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
Also Sunday night, the Panorama section closed with a screening of its
audience award winner, "Im Toten Winkel. Hitler's Sekretarin" (Blind Spot.
Hitler's Secretary). An incredible historical document, the new documentary
by Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer is a 90 minute digest of more than ten hours of interview footage with Hitler's secretary from 1942 - 1945, Traudl
Junge. This compelling and moving film offers first-hand, never before heard
stories from inside the Third Reich. Most powerful is the final act of the
movie, in which Junge details the final days with Hitler, Goebbels, Eva
Braun and others in the bunker near the site of present day Potsdamer Platz
in Berlin. Junge describes the guilt she feels, her shame at not being more
aware of what was really going on while she was working for Hitler and her
ultimate disappointment with him. The filmmakers were greeted with a
full-house crowd for Sunday's screening and award presentation at the
CinemaxX theater. At the conclusion of the showing, moviegoers were left in
a stunned silence and remained quietly in their seats as the lights came up.
Saturday's night's Teddy Award ceremony and party at the new Tempodrom near Anhalter Bahnhof was an equally significant moment at the 52nd Berlinale,
but for different reasons. 3,000 people gathered for what is considered a
highlight of Berlin's queer social calendar -- an awards show, followed by
an all-night party. Now in its 16th year, the event has grown from a small
ceremony in a bookstore, to an event that rivaled the recent European Film
Awards, held in the same venue in December of last year.
Openly gay mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowerweit was on hand to welcome attendees
-- he received a rousing ovation from the crowd. Dieter Kosslick was also on
hand, along with his predecessor, twenty-four year Berlinale veteran Moritz
de Hadeln, and a number of German celebrities, including singer Nina Hagen.
New York's own Bob Hawk headed the nine-member, international Teddy jury
"The world must accept diversity," commented Panorama head Weiland Speck,
addressing the audience, "Not tolerate it." Continuing, he added,
"The world has to accept diversity," echoed Kosslick on his turn at the
podium, "Its not just gay, it's a whole lot more." [Eugene Hernandez]