Berlinale – Not just a red carpet

The Magic of the Berlinale, a vital hub for next-generation filmmakers. Out of all the film festivals in Berlin, this is, naturally, the most famous.

Those in the arts may say that Berlin is where your dreams can come true. Music is made here, cabaret and the avant-garde celebrated, dancers find a stage here and poets find their voice. Artists of all genres are celebrated and forgiven for all sorts of productions and pieces. Yet, there are still struggling artists all over the city. If this is the place where dreams are made of, why isn’t everyone successful?

This is why people love Berlin, it’s why artists want to come here, to see if they can make it in Berlin, and even if you don’t find the success you were hoping for, at least you lived as a struggling bohemian artist should – in Berlin!

How many?!

There are 95 film festivals held in Berlin each year, these range from small scale to grandiose events. Naturally, the Down Under Berlin Film Festival is up there with the best of them, but as far as ranking goes, you can’t go past the Berlinale. This is the film festival that trumps all in this city of culture and art. Most people in the world are aware of the Berlin International Film Festival. An annual event that showcases around 400 films along with an extravagant awards night, where winners are presented with gold and silver bear statues. The Berlinale Film Festival is glamorous, it’s decadent, it fills the magazines and social media with the best-dressed stars on the red carpet, and winners proudly bearing their bears to the crowd.

Not too dissimilar from other major film festivals around the world, but Berlin’s own, which makes it a very sought after event. And so, this is nothing new, right? What makes Berlinale different to other film festivals?

It’s what runs alongside Berlinale Film Festival that makes the difference to the next generation of filmmakers…. and lovers…… but mainly makers. Berlinale runs two events simultaneously to the film festival, which only cements the passion and education the international film industry are so proud of.

What else?

The European Film Market trade fair is now one of the three largest movie markets in the world. This eight-day event exists to accommodate the ‘others’ in the film industry, not particularly recognised on the red carpet, but just as important. The EFM trade fair focuses on the film buyers, producers, financiers and agents. 

It facilitates a weeklong series of lectures and workshops for this side of the filmmaking industry, to get their hands dirty in warm and fuzzy film festival feelings. This is Berlinale’s business hat, where the ‘buy and sell’ can thrive, where new works have new beginnings to raise up a new generation of producers and film executives; as we all know that without them, a film would just not get made! They even have a four-day Berlinale co-production arm of this expo, especially for international co-productions.

Berlinale Talents is another branch to Berlinale’s ever growing family, running over six days, alongside the festival and trade fair. Here, around 350 people from across the filmmaking scene, and from over 75 different countries, are invited to get their inspiration flowing and to take part in lectures, panel discussions, workshops, excursions, coaching and tutoring sessions. You have to apply, of course, you can’t just rock up in an ‘I make films’ T–shirt, waving your CV around and expect to get in. The panel of Berlinale representatives decide whether you can come or not, and fair enough too, who doesn’t want to be able to say they’ve been handpicked for something like this!!? This opportunity is a wonderful breeding ground for some exceptional filmmakers who just need a little push in the industry.

New Zealand filmmaker, writer and director Max Currie attended the Berlinale Talents in 2014. He says “Without Berlinale Talents – I would not be making my second feature. At the Talent Campus, I met DP Johannes Louis. We clicked, and together, we organised a guerrilla shoot to make a concept teaser for my feature idea, Life In Subtitles. That teaser became instrumental in securing development finance from theNew Zealand Film Commission. You only need to click with that one, special filmmaker for an idea to start becoming a reality, and at Berlinale Talents – you’re meeting hundreds of filmmakers, all on the cusp of their big break.”

Down Under Berlin’s New Zealand programmer, Diana Kluge, channeling her inner bear.

Yay Berlinale!

This is Berlinale nurturing the future. It’s not only a wonderful networking platform where like-minded creatives can mingle and inspire but the level of time and knowledge offered to these participants in their fields of making film and drama series is astounding. The guest lecturers are all industry professionals and have included international artists, actors, directors, and writers; because if you are going to inspire the best, you may as well utilise the best.

This triad of events seamlessly complement each other and unleashes an onslaught of film industry professionals into the city. Actors, directors, writers, editors, camera operators, producers, agents, sound and animation artists and more, launch themselves on Berlin with such enthusiasm for making good films that the feeling is infectious.

DUB has had a great relationship with the Berlinale over the last 6 years, many Australian and New Zealand films, like What We Do In The Shadows and Emo- The Musical have also had major screenings at both the Berlinale festival and Down Under Berlin. What can we say, we love to share the love!

If there are going to be even more struggling artists in Berlin for a time, there may as well be somewhere they can nurture their talent. This fine city carries this festival to somewhere between Dreamtime and screen time for many of its participants and film loving viewers.

The Berlinale Film Festival 2017 runs from 9-19th February. Get your tickets to screenings here, and we’ll see you at the movies!

Header Image © sebaso

Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, and along with her husband, is the founder and content manager of the online travel guide My Guide Berlin.