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The Berlinale is Much More Than a Film Festival

The Berlinale is Much More Than a Film Festival

The best summation of the festival itself was the New York Times article by Dennis Lim which contextualizes the festival and its films:

Founded amid the rubble of postwar Germany, once a propaganda showcase for the Allies and an important cultural crossroads between East and West during the cold war, the Berlin International Film Festival has often served as a political lightning rod. With the attention of the world trained on events in Cairo and the ripple effects in the Muslim world, the 61st edition of the Berlinale, as the festival is known, got off to a topical start last Thursday by calling attention to a conspicuously absent juror, the imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.

My personal favorite of the films I saw, aside from the Competition Golden Bear Winner A Separation, was Bombay Beach by an Israeli director Alma Harel who lives in L.A. and is married to Boaz Yoakim who made one of the bravest films on the affects of the Holocaust on a family in Death and Love which showed in Sundance in 2008.

The jury headed by Isabella Rossellini honored Iran with 3 prizes for Asghar Farhadi.’s Separation in a vote of solidarity with the people of Iran and of all oppressive countries bearing witness to the spontaneous and simultaneous popular uprisings spreading from Egypt to Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Bayrain and Libya, and even to Italy where women were demanding justice for Silvio Berlusconi.

The Talent Campus took most of my attention. The “Experts” coaching the young talent gets more impressive every year. Out of nearly 4,000 applications from 141 countries for this 9th edition, 350 young filmmakers from 88 countries were given the opportunity to learn from over 150 prominent Berlinale guests and notable experts, to strengthen their own skills, and to clearly define their creative and strategic filmmaking goals. On top of this, Talents participated in numerous hands-on training programmes, like the Doc & Script Station, the Talent Project Market, the Editing Studio or the Post-Production Studio, working with experienced mentors on new film projects and making contacts for the future in an informal networking environment.

Sydney (me) coaching a young Talent.

The Talent Campus closed with the presentation and award ceremony of the Score Competition in the presence of British composer and mentor Michael Nyman. The Score Competition had three finalists compose a new soundtrack to an excerpt from Eva Pervolovici’s film Little Red (Berlin Today Award 2011 finalist). The main prize was awarded to Felix Rösch from Germany whose composition was commended by jury members Klaus-Peter Beyer, Prof. Martin Steyer, Martin Todsharow and Angelina Maccarone for its “originality and unconventional use of the orchestra”. Rösch won an invitation from Dolby to go on a week-long tour of Los Angeles sound studios. Roger Goula (Spain/U.K.) and Ehud Freedman (Israel/U.S.) received an opportunity to record an additional composition with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg.

Mentor Michael Nyman, himself, became widely known as a film score composer mainly for his work in many of Peter Greenaway’s films (A Zed & Two Noughts, The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, Prospero’s Books), as well as for his scores for Wonderland, Gattaca and The Piano, his greatest commercial success thus far. Nyman is considered one of the most innovative and versatile contemporary composers. In addition to scoring films, he has also composed and premiered numerous operas, had musical stints in the games and fashion industries, and made a name for himself as a conductor, critic and director, most recently with his video project NYman with a Movie Camera.

Berlin Today Award 2009 short films on the theme “My Wall” are now successfully travelling to festivals around the world, and the new round of the Berlinale Talent Campus’ short film competition got underway. 250 young filmmakers from 65 countries responded to the call for project ideas on the motto “Straight to Cinema”. The eighth Berlin Today Award went to London based Kyoko Miyake (Japan) for her documentary Hackney Lullabies, created and shot in the London neighbourhood of Hackney. The short film portrays young immigrant mothers in Britain and how they transmit a sense of home to their children through lullabies.

The Berlinale Talent Campus is one of the Berlinale’s strongest exports,” says Campus Project Manager Christine Tröstrum.
4th Talent Campus Durban, South Africa 22-26 July 2011
3rd Talent Campus Guadalajara March 25 – April 1, 2011
Buenos Aires. The Talent Campus Buenos Aires is an initiative of the Universidad del Cine in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus, the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI) and the Goethe-Institut Buenos Aires.
5th Talent Campus, Sarajevo. The Sarajevo Talent Campus is an initiative of the Sarajevo Film Festival in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Prominent Experts at the Berlinale Talent Campus #9: The Campus experts included Harry Belafonte and Wim Wenders, Andres Veiel, Heddy Honigmann, István Szabó, Ralph Fiennes, Ed Lachman, Alex McDowell and Shekhar Kapur, Claudia Llosa, Abderrahmane Sissako, Barbara Hammer, Paul Schrader and Rafi Pitts, among others, and Danis Tanović, Janus Metz, Samuel Maoz, Shekhar Kapur and Alex McDowell and many others.

“Filming War” — Panel with filmmakers Danis Tanović, Janus Metz and Samuel Maoz
No other events have influenced the narrative structures and aesthetic of films so much as the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. High pressure and life-risking situations are inherent to filmmaking processes that depict war and crisis situations, whether they are fiction or documentary. These three outstanding filmmakers will reflect on how war is depicted in film: Danis Tanović, who received an Oscar® in 2002 for No Man’s Land, Janus Metz, who won the 2010 Grand Prix at the International Critics’ Week of the Cannes Film Festival for his documentary Armadillo, and Samuel Maoz, Israeli director and script writer, who bagged a Golden Lion in Venice 2009 and recently won two European Film Awards for Lebanon.

“Play as Process: Worldbuilding and New Ways to Imagine” — Panel with production designer Alex McDowell, director Shekhar Kapur, and others
Play is a process that acknowledges the creative chaos inherent to developing storytelling worlds. New digital immersive tools of our time are like a toy box for ideas. How can we use these digital tools to create narrative play-spaces in which both audience and creator can be immersed in collaborative experience?

Since the 90s, production designer Alex McDowell has indisputably set new standards with the imaginary worlds he created for films like Fight Club, Minority Report, and Watchmen. Shekhar Kapur, the award-winning director of Bandit Queen and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, has developed his creative expression across the broad range of narrative media, from comic books to architecture. Together, McDowell and Kapur will offer Campus audiences an insight into the playful process behind building narrative worlds in virtual film space. Both filmmakers, together with experience designer Tali Krakowsky, and artist Andrew Shoben, are members of the 5D Conference – an association of designers, scientists, artists, entertainment media practitioners and academics that come together to explore current trends in designing for film and new media.

“The Rules of Engagement” – Opening Panel with Kerry Fox, Henning Mankell and José Padilha
Tackling contemporary issues and developing an original point of view towards them is the main challenge for any storytelling artist. The opening panel of the Berlinale Talent Campus 2011 on Sunday, Feb 13 (HAU1, 11:00 h), will feature award-winning New Zealand actress Kerry Fox, who won the 2001 Berlinale Silver Bear for Best Actress for her role in Intimacy, Swedish bestselling author, theatre director and activist Henning Mankell and Brazilian filmmaker and 2008 Golden Bear winner, José Padilha (The Elite Squad), who will present the sequel Elite Squad 2 – The Enemy Within in Berlinale Panorama. Moderated by Campus programme manager Matthijs Wouter Knol, these three esteemed experts will talk about the initial impetus that led them down their individual paths, how it impacted their lives, shaped subsequent projects, and how this engagement further developed and took on a life of its own. Kerry Fox will also work with up-and-coming acting and directing talents from all over the world at the Talent Actors Stage.

“In the Limelight” – Harry Belafonte, Isabella Rossellini, István Szabó and Ralph Fiennes
Legendary US-American singer, actor and human rights activist Harry Belafonte will be among the Campus’ star guests for an “In the Limelight” session. Showbiz legend Belafonte will talk about his recording career and his cinematic work for directors like Preminger, Wise or Altman, and also about his unrelenting commitment to humanitarian issues and his active involvement in human rights advocacy. Susanne Rostock’s inspiring documentary about the life and times of Harry Belafonte, Sing Your Song, will be presented in Berlinale Special. Two other “In the Limelight” sessions include one with this year’s Berlinale jury president Isabella Rossellini and another with Hungarian filmmaker István Szabó and British director and actor Ralph Fiennes, who presents his directing debut Coriolanus in Berlinale Competition. Both filmmakers will give insights into the mutual commitment between directors and actors during challenging projects.

“The Establishing Shot” – Cinematography master class with Edward Lachman
The Berlinale Talent Campus is proud to present a discussion on cinematography with Edward Lachman, one of the most significant DoPs of independent and Hollywood cinema. Lachman has worked with directors such as Werner Herzog (Stroszek), Wim Wenders (The American Friend), Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There), Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) and Ulrich Seidl (Import/Export). In 2002, he co-directed the controversial Ken Park with Larry Clark. Lachman is reputed to switch successfully between documentary and fictional films. Moderated by Ben Gibson, Lachman will focus particularly on opening shots and how to start a motion picture with a particular look and atmosphere, one that penetrates with insight and accuracy and pervades until the end.

“New Horizons in 3D – Storytelling and Producing Redefined” with Wim Wenders, Alain Derobe, Gian-Piero Ringel and Erwin M. Schmidt
While the Berlinale Talent Campus brings together filmmakers who represent the future of cinema, this year’s Campus programme will also address the future look and feel of cinema. Legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders, director of masterpieces such as Wings of Desire, the Cuban music documentary Buena Vista Social Club and Paris, Texas will give a masterclass on his latest documentary Pina, a 3D dance film on the late German contemporary dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, premiering in the Competition section. The main topic will be how 3D expands possibilities for storytelling, with film excerpts to illustrate how these new possibilities also encompassed new challenges for stereographer Alain Derobe, producer Gian-Piero Ringel and 3D producer Erwin M. Schmidt. The panel is moderated by Patrick Palmer and joined by Julian Pinn (Dolby) who will discuss the most recent developments in 3D technology (Monday, Feb 14, 6 pm, Cubix8).

Just as sound changed the landscape of filmmaking, technology is changing audience behaviour and expectations – they want immersion and interaction. As audiences move from one platform to another, how does one develop stories and characters that can travel across screens and devices? The impact of new technologies coupled with an audience that has way more control over their media than ever before is affecting the art and craft of storytelling. In the “Indie Filmmakers Guide to Cross Media” series on cross-media storytelling, experts like Michel Reilhac, the executive director of ARTE France Cinema, and other trendsetting pioneers will discuss with moderator Liz Rosenthal (“Power to the Pixel”) how to build and produce story worlds that span multiple platforms and engage audiences in powerful new ways (Monday, Feb 14, 2 pm, HAU2; Tuesday, Feb 15, 2 pm, HAU3 top floor; Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 am, HAU3 top floor).

“Too Good to Be True: Directing Reality” with Andres Veiel and Heddy Honigmann
Incorporating fictionesque elements in documentary films has enriched the genre tremendously and resulted in compelling storytelling taken from reality. Yet critics question re-enactments, staging interviews or even adding music in documentary films. On the other side, fiction films that use a documentary approach have increased the intensity of storytelling. This panel features two outstanding filmmakers who use a unique filmic language in both their documentary and fictional work. Andres Veiel (Black Box BRD, Addicted to Acting) is a multiple award-winning director and is considered one of Germany’s leading documentary filmmakers. His feature film

If Not Us, Who? is in competition at this year’s Berlinale. Peruvian-born and Amster-dam-based Heddy Honigmann (O Amor Natural, Forever) is a true master of the documentary form and her films possess a singular style and remarkable sensitivity. With a career that has spanned more than 20 years, her body of work includes documentary and fiction features and has garnered awards from festivals and praise from critics around the world, as well as provided inspi-ration for emerging and veteran documentary filmmakers alike. Honigmann and Veiel will discuss the extent to which directors can create their own filmic reality when making documentaries or use documentary elements when making fiction films

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