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Berlin


 
The 72nd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from February 10 to 17, 2022 under the motto "It all (re)starts here".
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters brings you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives. WATCH OUR VIDEO COVERAGE TRAILERS INTERVIEWS AND AMBIANCE   PHOTOS

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The Stars Align In Deutschland: an article in the New York Sun


..."The COO of the Paris-based Filmfestivals Entertainment Group, Bruno Chatelin, insists the mixture of small independent films and mainstream industry at the Berlinale is actually good for business on both sides. "The industry thrives on things that major media are interested in," he said. "At the same time, there is the film focus where the media is just looking for the next gem. It's not war exactly, but it's a fight for distribution. And sometimes the small need the big."

Mr. Kosslick, meanwhile, has tried to shift the tables, maintaining that a strength of the festival is that it is not all business. "We are not, like Venice or Cannes, a pure trade fair," he said. "There, only experts or members of the film industry attend, or whatever you would like to call them. To us, thank God, also comes the grandmother from Steglitz."
By DANIELA GERSON
Read the full article in the New York Sun

Full text below
By DANIELA GERSON
"Juxtapose the images of a chilly Berlin in February with a warm Mediterranean Cannes in May," the organizer of a New York film series recently said. "Not hard to understand why Cannes is the most popular festival."

Indeed, this city's trademark dank and dismal winter weather will likely frame the Berlin International Film Festival's opening tomorrow evening. But while Cannes is the most famous, Berlin's festival, now in its 57th year, has its own distinctive buzz charging this city. Founded in 1951 by Americans wishing to restore the grandeur of pre-war Berlin, the "Berlinale" is now widely included among the most important showcases of international films and is exceptionally accessible to the general public. Some 19,000 film professionals from 120 countries will be joined this year by more than 180,000 ticket holders.

"It's like going into a big superstore of film and everything is on the aisle ready for you to examine," the director of home videos for New York-based Zeitgeist films, Ian Stimler, said. He'll leave tomorrow for a scouting trip to Berlin.

In the past, such trips have proved successful for Zeitgeist, a small distribution company specializing in independent films. For example, he discovered " Sophie Scholl: The Final Days," a German drama about the White Rose opposition group to the Nazis, on a trip two years ago. Zeitgeist bought rights to American distribution of the film, which went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

The Berlinale, Mr. Stimler said, may not "have the cache of Toronto or Cannes, but it makes it easier to talk to sellers about their films."
While the stars — from George Clooney to Jennifer Lopez — should begin to stream in today, the Berlinale is always playing catch up with its glamorous European counterparts. Rather, this is a festival — like the much newer TriBeCa — infused with the flavor of its city.

Eleven years after the wall came down, the Berlinale left its location in the historic heart of West Berlin for a spot near Potsdamer Platz, straddling what was once a no-man's land sliced by the wall and 200 yards from Hitler's bunker. The festival's themes, likewise, reflect the weight of the history that defines Berlin, layered with its contemporary artistic dynamism. There is a heavy dose of European historical drama and documentary. In recent years, a longstanding focus on bridging east and west has shifted to trying to bring attention to artists from countries without resources or a tradition of cinema.

This activist angle is one the festival director, Dieter Kosslick, likes to emphasize. "We are a political festival, and we want to stay that way, and we want to identify all the injustice in the world," Mr. Kosslick told Deutschlandradio in an interview on Sunday, making sure to add, "nevertheless, among these 400 films that we show here, there is sufficient escapism and lots of fun."

The 22 films contending for the top prize, the Golden Bear, hail from more than a dozen countries. They range from a science-fiction fable from South Korea to an Israeli drama set on the Lebanese border to two Hollywood epics examining German postwar history.

Leading a strong French contingent is Olivier Dahan's biopic of the singer Edith Piaf, "La Môme," which will open the festival. Hollywood big shots also have a heavy presence, reflecting the festival's reputation as a top platform for Americans to introduce their work to European audiences. Steven Soderbergh's "The Good German" and Robert DeNiro's "The Good Shepherd," both postwar dramas that fared relatively poorly at the American box office, will face off again in an alternate but no less relevant pocket of historic significance. George Nava's "Bordertown," starring Ms. Lopez as a journalist researching the murders of women in an industrial Mexican city, will make its premiere here.

"Right now, we have a very good mixture in the competition between very famous names and relative unknowns," a film critic for Radio Eins, Knut Elstermann, said.
Going beyond the competition for the main prize, Mr. Elstermann says, is where the Berlinale distinguishes itself from Cannes or Venice. The festival showcases an extensive selection of documentary and nontraditional films, and, not surprisingly, an ample array from the boom in new German cinema.

For Mr. Stimler, whose company strives to go beyond traditional art-house fare, this is also an advantage of the festival. The Panorama selection, in particular, specializes in international films deemed remarkable for their artistic vision. "Sometimes they try and champion edgier films," he said. These are films where "commercial merits are not readily apparent" and may not make it to the other festivals, but they work for a company like Zeitgeist.

Whether the showcase of this wide range of films translates into big business is another question. Mr. Stimler noted that while a win at Sundance or Cannes is always trumpeted in advertising, Americans rarely go to a film because they "heard it was really good at Berlin."

Last year's winner, Jasmila Zbanic's "Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams," which follows a single mother trying to reconstruct life with her 12-year-old daughter in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, was picked up nine months after the festival by an American distributor, Strand Releasing. (It is now making a national run at art-house theaters and will open at Film Forum on February 16.)

The CEO of the Paris-based Filmfestivals Entertainment Group, Bruno Chatelin, insists the mixture of small independent films and mainstream industry at the Berlinale is actually good for business on both sides. "The industry thrives on things that major media are interested in," he said. "At the same time, there is the film focus where the media is just looking for the next gem. It's not war exactly, but it's a fight for distribution. And sometimes the small need the big."

Mr. Kosslick, meanwhile, has tried to shift the tables, maintaining that a strength of the festival is that it is not all business. "We are not, like Venice or Cannes, a pure trade fair," he said. "There, only experts or members of the film industry attend, or whatever you would like to call them. To us, thank God, also comes the grandmother from Steglitz."

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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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