- Berlin: an exciting, cosmopolitan cultural hub that never ceases to attract artists from around the world.
- Berlinale: a great cultural event and one of the most important dates for the international film industry.
- Around 300,000 sold tickets, more than 19,000 professional visitors from 115 countries, including 4,000 journalists: art, glamour, parties and business are all inseparably linked at the Berlinale.
Berlin International Film Festival
Among festivals, the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, ranks as a favorite of the festival circuit - and this despite the dreary, cold Central European weather. Probably one of Berlin's biggest assets is the city itself. The German capital has long been a mecca for artists, bohemians, and all creative types from the avant garde to the established. The city's populace bustles with a 24-hour pace for the party die-hards.
Yet, it also has a laid-back vibe with charming cafes in addition to stately museums. Also of note, Berlin is quite cheap compared to other major European capitals, and this despite a surging Euro.The festival itself is also a fantastic draw in its own right, and, while not Cannes, it certainly ranks in the top tier of European festivals and arguably in the top five worldwide. Though the bulk of the festival has long migrated east, near where the wall once bisected Potsdamer Platz from its old home in the West, the Berlinale offers some state of the art venues all within walking distance (though the festival also hosts some screenings in other areas of the capital). Yet, the festival has endured significant criticism of its programming by journalists, including recent coverage in indieWIRE. Up to 400 films are shown every year as part of the Berlinale's public program. The vast majority are world or European premieres, and films of every genre, length, and format can be submitted for consideration.
The Berlinale is divided into different sections, each with its own unique profile: big international movies from often well known filmmakers in the Competition; independent, art-house, and often LGBT-themed movies in the Panorama section; movies geared towards a younger audience in Generation; the newest German cinema productions in Perspektive Deutsches Kino; an in-depth look at films from "distant" countries and experimental forms in the Forum; as well as diverse international shorts in Berlinale Shorts. The program is rounded off by a thematic Retrospective and an Homage, which focuses on the lifework of a great cinema personality. Screenings are often packed with enthusiastic audiences. In addition to numerous juried and audience awards, the Berlinale is also notable for being one of only two major international film festivals (the other being Venice) to present LGBT-specific film awards, the Teddy Awards.
One downside for the festival on the industry side has been complaints that buyers often have difficulty getting into larger screenings, having to wait for press to enter first or waiting to see films in the concurrent market. On the press side, the festival has instituted some very strict restrictions on photography during official press conferences, which is the most severe we've ever experienced and seriously limit the ability to cover individual films while frustrating the media.
Concurrent with the festival is the nearby European Film Market (EFM), one of the leading film markets in the world, where new films are bought and sold. The market itself, along with a number of industry-oriented events, is held in the ornate Martin-Gropius-Bau, which is accessible by shuttle or a short walk from the festival's main Potsdamer Platz headquarters. While film markets ebb and flow in any given year, the EFM is typically Europe's second largest after the Cannes Film Market. [Brian Brooks]