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Berlinale: Wieland Speck about the 2006 Panorama

Set up in 1985 as an official Berlinale program the Panorama focuses on difficult issue-oriented features and documentaries by first and second time international film directors and has been programmed since 1997 by Wieland Speck. Compared to other programmers Speck has the rare distinction of being an accomplished film director and writer whose works ranges from educational HIV/AIDS shorts to documentaries like ESCAPE TO LIFE: THE ERIKA AND KLAUS MANN STORY screened at the 2005 Berlinale. Speck has also been in charge of the famed Berlinale TEDDY program, the only section of any major film festival which is devoted exclusively to films with gay, lesbian, or transgender themes.

Claus Mueller
What is the most important change in the Panorama program compared to 2005?
Wieland Speck
In so far as the structure of Panorama is concerned, there is no change since it is working so well and we have to be as functional as possible. What was certainly new was the 20th the anniversary of the TEDDY celebration [with a retrospective of the best Teddy films shown over the last twenty years]. Further, the themes of the 2006 films are showing a definite change in the view of inter-sexuality. We had several films that dealt with people moving definitely between the poles of male and female and we realize in this year’s films that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are the total extremes of something where humanity is in between. Starting with Lukas Moodyson [CONTAINER] in the fiction film section we see all kinds of between-the-gender people who want to stay the way they are, or find a way they want to live their lives without going through surgery.

What is the single most important problem you encounter running the Panorama section?
I have no problems with the Panorama.

Wonderful, most people have some problems?
Well, we have a whole complex of problems. The biggest problem might be a tremendous growth in the number of films we have to process. To find our program of 50 productions we have to look at more than four thousand, it has doubled, and it is an explosion.
[Including the 650 films entered at the European Film Market, more than 5000 productions were submitted to the Berlinale in 2006]

That would be one of the most important consequences of the new technologies?
Correct, every festival has that problem

Did your criteria of selections change?
They are absolutely the same. The bottom line is not to loose my intuition of what could work in Berlin.

If your intuition tells you that a film fits panorama insofar as format, style and content are concerned but would not play commercially, would you still considerer to include it?
Possibly yes, if the film for example transports a theme that is otherwise also present in the program and enhances the focus on that theme.

What are the three filmmakers that had most influence on you?
Fred Zinneman, Alexander Sokurov and Derrick Graham

If you had more funding, that is you have a significant increase in your budget what would you do?
I would definitely create a data base and buy the rights to stream some of our films that did not get the theatrical attention in the world that I hoped for.

A data base of all Panorama selections or just of the Teddy films?
Just Teddy films, not all of them, but certainly, those that should have taken off from here but did not the way I wanted, so I would like to make them available. But [I want to] also keep films alive from the past because the focus of today only on the newest films is important for the festival world but for the cultural aspect it is crucial to keep certain other films alive.

Did your budget increase compared to last year?

Do you plan anything new for next year..?
This year I will sit down and write again in order to go back to film making because it was not possible for the past five years since we moved the festival from one location to another, we changed the director, and so on. All these things kicked me out of the loop to make films. So I am looking forward to return to that.

Anything new at the Panorama in 2007?
Next year at the Panorama. My whole team and I will be very happy that we have no jubilee because I totally tortured everyone to the bones with the Teddy’s anniversary and last year’s 20 years of Panorama [celebration]. These were two jubilee years and now every one is like dead. So next year we will have again our core program

Are there certain kinds of films or themes that you look for?
I never pre-formulate themes. I find the themes when about three quarter of the program is basically done. Then I see where the themes come from, the Zeitgeist, from what is in the air and then for the last quarter I try to enhance some of these themes.

Thank you, until next year’s themes

Claus Mueller, New York Correspondent

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