The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Wow!

The last two months have been busy!

I went to Norway.

I was in the newspaper.

I was on TV.

And I went to not one film festival, but two!

Two (2) films festivals!

Whaaaat?!$!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

The Berlin International Film Festival otherwise known as the Berlinale and the glamour it brought, is now over!

And what a wonderful time we had!

We had a long, fantastic fortnight of films, films, and yes more films!

In fact, my eyes have literally sunk into my head from watching so many.

And will I do it all over again next year?

You betcha!

At Sputnik Kino for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]
Victoria smiling for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]

In fact, only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, rush through Bruges in Belgium, get scammed in Berlin, be utterly bored by Romania, proud as punch to be invited for the Royal Reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, asked to explore Sweden, Latvia and Estonia on a press trip, and got completely lost and trapped in India!

With family in tow!

And just the other week, I was in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), and I’m going to be on TV again on 13.03.19!

It’s going to be in connection with Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany.

And just like last time, a TV crew contacted me, and asked if they could follow me about for, you know, a typical day in the life of a travel, expat, lifestyle British blogger!

Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.

The programme was to be shown on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg – Deutscher Pass statt Brexit-Chaos or Brits in Berlin and Brandenburg – German passport instead of Brexit-Chaos on 20.02.19 at 21:00.

UPDATE: The rbb Brexit reportage has been postponed to: 13.03.19 at 21:15!

Save the Date!

I’ll write more about it after the programme has aired.

In March!

Yay!

 

Victoria – The British Berliner at the British Shorts Film Festival!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – January 2019
I went to the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale and I went to the British Shorts Film Festival.

Both of them take place in Berlin

And both of them are film festivals very much worth going to.

For more information and a description of the Berlinale. Click here!

For more information and a description of the British Shorts Film Festival. Click here!

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

The new 69th Berlinale 2019 Film Programme!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2019

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities.

And with more than:

  • 332,403 sold tickets
  • 18,080 professional visitors
  • 130 countries
  • 3,688 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 7th of February to the 17th February, 2019, Berlin was packed solid, with members of the film industry.

The Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Yes, that means YOU!

I’m a Corporate Training Manager, I’m married and have a teenage son, so I always have to get smart and creative.

During the week, I was very busy with my job working at H&D – An HCL Technologies CompanyH&D Business Services GmbH, and didn’t watch any films at all during the week and only went to screenings on Thursday – late night – and then really went crazy over the weekend!

I must be bonkers!

Jonas Dassler – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove – Competition 2019
©Gordon Timpen / 2018 bombero int./Warner Bros. Ent.

Here are ALL the films that I watched in alphabetical order!

  1. Bait
  2. Berlin Bouncer
  3. Buoyancy
  4. Busong
  5. Di jiu tian chang – So Long, My Son
  6. Divino Amor – Divine Love
  7. Easy Love
  8. Elternschule – Parents’ School
  9. Estou Me Guardando Para Quando O Carnaval Chegar – Waiting for the Carnival
  10. Der Goldene Handschuh – The Golden Glove
  11. Die Kinder der Toten – The Children of the Dead
  12. Four Quartets
  13. Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel: For Women – Chapter 1
  14. Heimweh nach Rügen oder Gestern noch war ich Köchin – Homesick for Rügen or Yesterday, I Was a Cook
  15. Hölmö nuori sydän – Stupid Young Heart
  16. Kids
  17. Kislota – Acid
  18. Liberty
  19. Mid90s
  20. Miss World
  21. Monștri – Monsters
  22. Mr. Jones
  23. Šavovi – Stitches
  24. Sie – She
  25. Skin
  26. So Pretty
  27. Staff Only
  28. Story
  29. Systemsprenger – System Crasher
  30. Styx
  31. Tattoo
  32. Temblores – Tremors
  33. The Biggest Little Farm
  34. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
  35. To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón – The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea
  36. Weil du nur einmal lebst – Die Toten Hosen auf Tour – Die Toten Hosen – You Only Live Once
  37. When Tomatoes Met Wagner
  38. Where We Belong

In my opinion, every film was brilliant, and none were duds!

So without further ado, here are the films that I think are going to be the next big thing.

In no particular order!

THE TOP 20 FESTIVAL FILMS YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH IN 2019!

Jonah Hill – Hollywood Actor and Director having fun on the Red Carpet at the Berlin International Film Festival with his film – Mid90s!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

In the flurry of excitement and talented art, I managed to watch 38 films in just seven (7) days.

Thirty Eight!

I admit. It was a little exhausting but some films were long and some weren’t.

HITS FOR EVERYONE!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!
  1.  THE BOY WHO HARNASSED THE WIND
Chiwetel Ejiofor & Maxwell Simba – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
©Ilze Kitshoff – Netflix

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is adapted from the bestselling book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

It follows 13-year-old William Kamkwamba (newcomer Maxwell Simba), who is thrown out of the school he loves, when his family can no longer afford his tuition fees.

Using the school library, he finds a way, by using his father’s – Trywell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – to build a windmill which then saves his village in Malawi, from hunger and famine.

This film is the real-life story of a the young boy who saved a village, and the author of the actual book!

The film is acted, written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, Mary Magdalene), so you know it’s going to be quality, and I can tell you that there was not a dry eye in the room, and various sounds of sniffing and blowing of handkerchiefs!

It’s produced with the help of Netflix.

Watch it!

2.  MID90s

Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin & Sunny Suljic – Mid90s
©2018 Jayhawker Holdings

Mid90s is a coming-of-age movie above Stevie.

Stevie is 13, but looks far, far  younger, and is desperate to hang out with the big boys.

His older brother bullies him, and his single mother is rarely at home.

When Stevie meets a group of cool dudes at the local skateboard shop, everything changes and it’s not long before Stevie smokes his first cigarette…

I won’t tell you what happens except to say that the writer and director – Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) – has paid great attention to detail in order to resurrect the 1990’s for his directorial debut.

His story of a teenager’s difficult search for recognition and the right friends unfolds with great ease and plenty of music.

Think back to the 90’s with mixtapes, VHS camcorders, Nintendo PlayStation, songs of Nirvana, Cypress Hill, Seal, etc. and a good dose of nostalgia.

You’ll love it!

3.  MR. JONES

Mr. Jones at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Competition 2019 by Agnieszka Holland starring James Norton
© Robert Palka Film Produkcja

Mr. Jones is made by Academy Award nominee Agnieszka Holland who brings to the screen the extraordinary untold story of Gareth Jones.

Gareth Jones was an ambitious young Welsh journalist who not only became the first foreign journalist to cover the story of Hitler, but also travelled to the Soviet Union in 1933 and uncovered the appalling truth behind the Soviet “utopia,” otherwise known as the rapid modernisation of the Soviet Union, and Stalin’s regime.

In fact, he even attempted to get an interview with Stalin himself!

On closer detail, all isn’t as it seems and he witnesses crimes against humanity which he diligently reports, and which are all denied and ignored by Western media.

He does however, meet a young writer called George Orwell who goes on to become famous for writing a most famous and yet still contemporary, allegorical novel inspired by Gareth Jones’ story – Animal Farm.

Not much is known about Gareth Jones.

Until now.

So what happened to him?

Watch the film at a cinema near you, and find out?

4.  SYSTEMSPRENGER – SYSTEM CRASHER

Helena Zengel – Systemsprenger | System Crasher
©Peter Hartwig / kineo / Weydemann Bros. / Yunus Roy Imer

Systemsprenger | System Crasher is a film about Bernadette, or Benni – a delicate-looking girl with unbridled energy. She is a ‘system crasher’.

This term is used to describe children who break every single rule; children who refuse to accept any kind of structure, and who gradually fall through the cracks in Germany’s child and welfare services.

In fact, there was even talk of sending her to a children’s home in Africa!

No matter where this nine-year-old is taken in, she is booted out again after a short time. And that is exactly what she is after, because all she really wants, is to be able to live with her mother again. A woman who is totally unable to cope with her daughter’s unpredictable behaviour.

This multi-award-winning script, has created a dramatically intense film about one child’s overwhelming need for love and security and the potential for violence that this engenders.

At the same time, it depicts the tireless attempts of teachers and psychologists who use respect, trust and confidence to create a way forward for children who threaten to destroy others and themselves, as a result of their unpredictable outbursts.

This film is sad and somewhat disturbing, but with a potential for hope.

If you can get your hands on it, it’s well worth watching for the brilliant performance of the young actor – Helena Zengel!

5.  THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

The Biggest Little Farm – Emma the pig, Greasy the rooster – Culinary Cinema
©John Chester

The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about the complexity of nature and our relationship to it.

It follows two dreamers –  John and Molly Chester – and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to both their lives and the land.

When the barking of their beloved dog – Todd – leads to an eviction notice from their tiny LA apartment, John and Molly Chester make a choice that takes them out of the city and onto 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, naively endeavoring to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete co-existence with nature. The land they’ve chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from brutal drought.

Cameraman, director and newly minted farmer John Chester, spent eight daunting years chronicling the hard and passionate work involved in realising their utopia. His footage also includes some remarkable nocturnal shots of their animal companions and the planting of 10,000 orchard trees, over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind – including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster.

Just as the farm’s ecosystem finally begins to reawaken, their plans of perfect harmony takes a series of unfortunate wild turns that will lead them to life, death, the depth of despair, and everlasting hope that it’ll somehow come together.

I loved it!

I think you will too!

HITS FOR FILM NERDS

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

If you’re really into independent or international films, then the following list will please you, and whet your appetite, for good quality film-making.

Films that don’t need to worry about whether the audience will “get it” or appeal to 12-year-old boys.

In short, intelligent films!

Here goes:

6.  WHEN TOMATOES MET WAGNER

Alexander with aunties Niki, Stavroula, Agathi, Katina & Olga – When Tomatoes Met Wagner – Culinary Cinema 2019
©Myrto Papadopoulos

When Tomatoes Met Wagner is a funny and uplifting story of how two enterprising Greek cousins – Christos and Alexansdros – and five village women, attempt to tackle the world vegetable market by selling their own home-grown tomatoes!

It’s a quirky and inspiring tale of how a tiny rural village  – Elias in Greece – with a population of just a mere 33 elderly inhabitants – respond to  the new reality of how we eat and grow our food, by engaging in organic farming to overcome the Greek financial crisis!

And not by the use of any added ingredient, but by literally, the sound of music!

The brains behind this inspiring idea is Alexandros who uses stories of legend and history to market their products, encourage people from all over the world to visit Elias, and is utterly convinced that playing the music of Wagner in the tomato fields, helps crops grow healthy in a natural way.

With the help of his cousin Christos, a traditional farmer, they soon turn his land to the cultivation of organic tomatoes with the help of five (5) elderly women from the village who pasteurize, label and hand package their crops, as tomato paste and organic meals.

Soon, the little jars find their place on the shelves of organic stores across the world.

It’s funny, warm, original, and heart-breaking all at the same time.

You. Have. Got. To. See. This. Film.

7.  DIE KINDER DER TOTEN – THE CHILDREN OF THE DEAD

Greta Kostka & Andrea Maier – Die Kinder der Toten | The Children of the Dead
©Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion

In the film Die Kinder der Toten|The Children of the Dead, tourism is booming at the Pension Alpenrose.

After dying in an accident, Karin returns as one of the undead. In a cinema owned by a Nazi widow where the past is mourned, she brings the non-living back to life.

In her 666-page ghost novel “The Children of the Dead”, Elfriede Jelinek allows the deceased to rise again, as a parade of zombies in a supermarket!

The film flutters between past and present. The present – a coach load of Dutch tourists and Syrian refugees. The past – hunters and zombies with swastikas and Jewish concentration camp victims, walking around, hand-in-hand!

The directorial duo from the Nature Theater of Oklahoma used amateur actors and Super 8 film in the original Styrian setting in Austria, using silent film, complete with Austrian brass-band music.

It’s a strange home-made horror movie, in which the vulgar and the ridiculous meet.

Terrific!

8.   BAIT

Edward Rowe & Isaac Woodvine – Bait
©Early Day Films Limited

Bait is a black-and-white film shot on hand-processed 16mm with close-ups of fish, nets, lobsters, wellington boots, knots, catch baskets, and even sounds of the bare gravel of fisher folk trudging across the pebbles on the beach!

The location is placed in an idyll Cornwall fishing village where the locals are no longer able to support themselves in the traditional way of fishing, but have had to resort to more lucrative ways via selling their homes, or catering to the interests of day-trippers, on sailing trips around the cove.

This has created tension between the weekend London city-folk and the now far-poorer original village locals, who have been priced out of the market or have to contend with empty buildings that they can no longer afford to live in, depicting images of historical reference and the tradition of social realism in British cinema.

I enjoyed it very much and if you’re a film nerd, you probably will too!

9.   TO THÁVMA TIS THÁLASSAS TON SARGASSÓN|THE MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA

To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón | The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea
©Kiki Papadopoulou

To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón | The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea is about Elisabeth – the police chief of the Greek coastal town of Mesolongi.

She drinks too much, constantly swears and is sleeping with a married doctor. Her transfer from Athens to the tiny fishing village ten years ago still rankles with her, and her adolescent son – Dimitris – has to learn to live with it.

Rita comes from Mesolongi and works in a factory; her brother is a local celebrity who makes her join him on stage during his club appearances. Rita is very unhappy and a death tears apart the already fragile network of relationships between the villagers, revealing an even more damaged structure beneath.

Angeliki Papoulia’s brilliant performance and the surprisingly shocking plot of the film serves up a small-town nightmare, garnished with eels and several layers of interpretation.

Highly recommended!

10.  K I D S

Kids – Director – Michael Frei
©Michael Frei

 

Kids is an experimental project about the psychology of the group dynamic.

Who is steering the crowd? What if it is heading in the wrong direction? Where does the individual end and the group begin?

It’s a witty black-and-white animated short film, an interactive piece of animation and a computer game set up that has animated figures running up and down the screen before they splat!

It’s hilarious and I absolutely loved it!

FILMS I REALLY, REALLY LIKE!

Put the kettle on. We’re going to be here all day!
How to be a German – 10 ways to do it!

I’m very into British / Irish, Asian and East European films, as they’re all quite gritty, weird and obscure. This year, I watched quite a few German films.

And surprisingly, I liked them!

11.   DER GOLDENE HANDSCHUH|THE GOLDEN GLOVE

Jonas Dassler – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove
©Gordon Timpen / 2018 bombero int./Warner Bros. Ent.
The rather handsome Jonas Dassler as himself! – Der Goldene Handschuh | The Golden Glove
©Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

The Der Goldene Handschuh|The Golden Glove is set in Hamburg – St.Pauli – in the 1970’s.

At first glance, Fritz «Fiete» Honka is a pitiful loser.

The man with the broken face binge-drinks his nights in his local neighborhood dive, the «Golden Glove», chasing after lonely women. None of the regulars suspect that the apparently harmless Fiete, is actually a monster.

Fatih Akin’s horror film is based on a true story and Heinz Strunk’s 2016 crime novel.

It’s the story of Fritz Honka, a serial killer who hid, mutilated, chopped up, and murdered numerous women, and his favorite bar, the «Golden Glove», where schmaltzy German songs move the pub punters to tears, and drinking is a reflex against pain in post-war Germany.

It’s a horrific story, but the attention to detail is amazing. As well as the make-up!

Go see it!

12.   BERLIN BOUNCER

Sven Marquardt of Berghain – Berlin Bouncer
©Flare Film GmbH

Berlin Bouncer is a documentary about three legendary bouncers – Frank, Sven and Smiley!

Back in the day, I used to be a hard-core clubber and one of the clubs mentioned – Berghain – was my regular weekend spot for techno vibes in the Berlin capital!

Of course, in those days, we expat locals knew Berghain as OstGut – it’s original name!

This film chronicles an exciting piece of Berlin’s cultural history – from the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall up to the pulsating present, so is it any wonder that I very much wanted to see the film!

In the late 1980s, Frank Künster came from West Germany to Berlin which was a special territory due to the fact that Berlin was divided by the Red Curtain into East and West, and was actually in the middle of East German territory (Brandenburg), Smiley Baldwin, an American G.I., who was one of the American soldiers who came over to guard the border to East Berlin, and sort of never left, and Sven Marquardt, a young punk and photographer, in East Berlin.

In fact, out of the three, Sven Marquardt is most easily recognisable as his usual garb is black leather, black boots, silver jewellery, long salt and pepper hair, and a well-groomed beard half-covered by a face full of tattoos and piercings. I live in Prenzlauerberg, and I sometimes used to see him at the tram stop!

Berlin Bouncer – the story of three legendary bouncers – Sven, Frank and Smiley!

Once the Berlin Wall fell, it was not long before all three found themselves caught up in the city’s wild nightlife of the 1990s, where they soon became the legendary ‘guardians’ of the city’s hippest clubs.

This film is a behind-the-scene look of how they all got started, what it was like at the time, the diversity of life in Berlin and their own real-life story now that they’re pushing 50, all appropriately accompanied by the infectiously pounding club sounds which have become a kind of second heartbeat not only for the protagonists of the film, but before the audience, and myself, who were in the scene when Berlin was the techno capital of the world.

And it still is!

Our film screening venue at the Berlinale was so packed that people were sitting on the floor!

It’s going to be shown at cinemas in Germany, so if you happen to be here, watch it. If not, look for it wherever.

You’ll love it!

13.   BUOYANCY

Sarm Heng – Buoyancy
©Rafael Winer

Buoyancy is about Chakra – a 14-year-old boy from Cambodia.

Chakra has a hard life toiling in the rice fields, along with his parents and siblings, when a friend tells him about the possibility of earning money in a factory. He then decides to secretly leaves home, in search of a better life.

Unfortunately, he is deceived, falls into the clutches of human traffickers, is sold to a Thai broker and enslaved on a fishing trawler. As fellow slaves are tortured and murdered around him, he decides his only hope of freedom is to become as violent as his captors.

Buoyancy is the first feature film of Rodd Rathjen’s, and in fact, the screening that I saw was the first public film screening that it has ever done. Ever!

The film is a brutal, yet realistic depiction of the current situation of Cambodian and Myanmar forced labourers.

This film isn’t pretty and spares no-one, but it’s very gripping, with a passionate message of social injustice and a touching and shocking coming-of-age story about a young boy, and humanity put to the test.

Go and see it!

  1.    DI JIU TIAN CHANG|SO LONG, MY SON
Yong Mei & Wang Jingchun – Di jiu tian chang | So Long, My Son
© Li Tienan / Dongchun Films

 

Di jiu tian chang|So Long, My Son is a film that traces the lives of two families over three decades of social, political and human upheaval in China.

Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from China’s turbulence from the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1980’s, to the prospering turbo-capitalism of today.

Yaoyun and his wife Liyun’ were once a happy family – until their young son drowned playing by a reservoir. Following the loss of their child, the two families separate.

And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot understand the local dialect, and their adopted son – Liu Xing – does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either.

Yet even as their lives diverge, a common search for truth and reconciliation around the tragedy remains and they decide to return back to their roots.

This film was impressive. I didn’t understand how the adopted son came into the story and even though I nodded off a little, I happily sat and watched it for 3+ hours!

I would happily sit back and watch it again!

  1.    FÜR FRAUEN. 1. KAPITEL|FOR WOMEN – CHAPTER 1
Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel For Women | Chapter 1 – West Germany 1972 – Ulla Lange, Helga Freyer, Edda Hertel & Janine Rickmann
©Deutsche Kinemathek / DFFB

Equal pay for equal work! Stand up for your rights!

This was said by four (4) female employees at a West Berlin supermarket, who felt heavy pressure both at work and at home, and who went on strike to demand the same salary that their male colleagues got.

This 1972 documentary film Für Frauen. 1. Kapitel For Women | Chapter 1 was scripted and acted by the performers themselves who were not professional actors but simply, supermarket sales assistants and housewives!

And you get to see customers smoking in the shop, long hair on both sexes, extremely tight trousers, very short dresses, men refusing to lift boxes as “it’s women work” and sadly, the pinching and grabbing of bottoms as well as sexist jokes, as women walk by.

That notwithstanding, the film is quite funny and was digitally restored in 2018.

If you can get your hands on it, it’s a historical treasure!

FILMS THAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN, BUT DIDN’T!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!
  1.   37 Seconds by HIKARI – Japan 2019

17.  8 Tage|8 Days by Rafael Parente and Peter Kocyla – Germany 2018

18.   Berlin–Prenzlauer Berg. Begegnungen zwischen dem 1. Mai und dem 1. Juli 1990|Berlin Prenzlauer Berg – Encounters between 1st of May and 1st of July 1990 by Petra Tschörtner – Germany 1990

19.  Gully Boy by Zoya Akhtar – India 2018

20.  Guo chun tian|The Crossing by Bai XuePeople’s Republic of China 2019

FILMS THAT WERE A WASTE OF MY TIME!

 

  • MONȘTRI|MONSTERS 
Judith State – Monștri | Monsters
©Luchian Ciobanu

 

Monștri | Monsters is about a marred couple in Romania.

It’s a relationship drama of loneliness, sex and the current emotional state of a couple, over 24 hours!

Dana’s loneliness is palpable when she, instead of going home, decides to switch off her phone and pay the taxi driver for a whole night of merely driving around and through Bucharest.

Meanwhile, her husband goes to the gym and meets another equally married man for sex in a strangers’ apartment.

The next morning, Dana and Andrei meet in their marital bed and spend the day together. Perhaps for the last time.

A man and a woman lost in their relationship.

I’ve seen it all before.

Blah! Blah! Blah!

  • ELTERNSCHULE|PARENTS’ SCHOOL
Elternschule | Parents’ School – Lola at Berlinale
Jörg Adolph, Ralf Bücheler

I have mixed feelings about Elternschule | Parents’ School.

This film is a documentary that portrays several families seeking psychiatric treatment at a German clinic.

This is a last resort to deal with their seemingly unresolvable parenting issues and both Ralf Bücheler and Jörg Adolph deliver a chilling insight into our society, and its troubled relationship with its children.

It was interesting in itself but I don’t think it had any place in this film festival, and all I could think of was, “I could be watching something else!”

Ahem!

Me at the Berlin International Film Festival aka the Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – February 2016

In watching a festival film, you get to see a large variety of international locations and settings, and a better intimate view with acting and scenes, that are much more realistic than in films with a Hollywood budget!

The Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is a special treat for the public.

See you next year!

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THE TOP 20 FESTIVAL FILMS YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH IN 2019!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received press accredited rates for tickets, all opinions and the impressive festival films that I saw, are my very, very own!

It’s March!

I’m going to be on German TV again!

I went to Norway. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my How To Visit India posts in March / April!

March is going to be pretty!

Catch me if you can!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Watch this space!

Please note that there are four affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

So what are you waiting for?

Go watch films!

Thanks a million!

The top 20 favourite festival films you should really watch in 2019!

Do you like films? Are any of the above festival films, the type of films that you would watch? Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Mr. Jones at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Competition 2019 by Agnieszka Holland starring James Norton
© Robert Palka Film Produkcja

OMG!

Go!

Go!!

Go!!!

I’ve told you before and I’ll probably tell you a million times over, living in Berlin is awfully fabulous!

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

At Sputnik Kino for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]
Victoria smiling for Die rbb Reporter in Berlin!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner / Kay S. Abaño [www.kayabano.com]

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, rush through Bruges in Belgium, get scammed in Berlin, be utterly bored by Romania, proud as punch to be invited for the Royal Reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, asked to explore Sweden, Latvia and Estonia on a press trip, and got completely lost and trapped in India!

With family in tow!

And just the other week, I was in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), and I’m going to be on TV again on 13.03.19!

It’s going to be in connection with Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany.

And just like last time, a TV crew contacted me, and asked if they could follow me about for, you know, a typical day in the life of a travel, expat, lifestyle British blogger!

Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.

The programme will be shown on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg – Deutscher Pass statt Brexit-Chaos or Brits in Berlin and Brandenburg – German passport instead of Brexit-Chaos on 20.02.19 at 21:00.

UPDATE: The rbb Brexit reportage has been postponed to: 13.03.19 at 21:15!

Save the Date!

I’ll write more about it later on in the month!

Yay!

Robert Pattinson at the Berlinale – Damsel – What a sexy gorgeous bloke!
© Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin is about to hobnob with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is in town!

Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s really quite easy.

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

The new 69th Berlinale 2019 Film Programme!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2019

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!

Freak Show by Trudie Styler – Generation
©Maven Pictures

Formats such as:

  • Epic international cinema (Competition)
  • Independent art house (Panorama)
  • Films for a younger audience or indeed, anyone young at heart (Generation)
  • New discoveries and promising talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino)
  • Avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded)
  • International film history consisting of cinematographic rediscoveries, high-quality film prints, digital screening formats, film aesthetics, film technology, and historical black and white documentary filming. For 2019, the focus is on the presepctive of female filmmakers (Retrospective)
  • Film classics and digitally restored film classics and rediscovered films  (Berlinale Classics)
  • Cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (the German Cinematheque – Museum for Film and Television) and that pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of great and inspirational film stars or personalities (Homage)
  • Films about food (Culinary Cinema)
  • Art house cinemas within Berlin (Berlinale Goes Kiez)
  • Cinematic story-telling of Indigenous people around the world (NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema)
  • New and extraordinary productions via the honouring of the glamorous, the extraordinary, and influential cinema personalities (Berlinale Special)
  • An exclusive first look at exciting new series productions from around the world (Berlinale Series)
  • And brilliant art house cinema short pieces (Berlinale Shorts)

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via:

Berlinale Talent – 12 fantastic festival films you should really watch with meeeee!
© Berlinale
  • The European Film Market (EFM) an international marketplace for the new film year, and a platform for innovation and change
  • The Berlinale Co-Production Market a forum for international networking and matching projects, producers, and money institutions for film production
  • The Berlinale Talents which introduces high-profile professionals to 250 promising young international film makers
  • The World Cinema Fund (WCF) which provides financial support to boost cultural diversity in German and European cinemas as well as film projects in countries with weak film infrastructure
  • And the Berlinale Residency programme which offers international directors, financial support and funding to live in Berlin for a few months, and to start their next film project

Yeah baby!

Victoria & Wes Anderson. And a lady who accidentally photo-bombed us! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

And with more than:

  • 332,403 sold tickets
  • 18,080 professional visitors
  • 130 countries
  • 3,688 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 7th of February to the 17th February, 2019, Berlin will be packed solid, with members of the film industry.

My heart swells and is almost fit to bursting, when I know that Berlin is competing with the likes of other film festivals, in Cannes, and Sundance.

Alright, not in the same category, but still.

In my opinion, a festival to be proud of!

With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez

Yes, that means YOU!

A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate.

If you want to!

Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

George Clooney at the Berlinale. So cool. So relaxed. So sexy. So …
©Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
  • BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
  • USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the Berlinale programme or Programmsuche. Use this item to filter and search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city, as well as the Potsdamer Platz Shopping Arcade (Arkaden), every Berlinale Box Office, many theatre box offices, and in pubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants everywhere!

It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!

  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the Berlinale programme for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!

Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!

  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – with the hashtag #Berlinale or #Berlinale2019. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
  • MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English or German, the section category, the country of origin, the venue, and the time of screening.

Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.

And a third one too!

Look at the packed crowd for the World Premiere of The Bookshop, at Friedrichstadt-Palast. Aim to arrive early!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover very soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing!

Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!

I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!

If you plan well, you can even use the Berlinale shuttle bus departing every hour which can be used by each and every Berlinale festival visitor travelling between Potsdamer Platz (Linkstraße, close to the entrance of U2) and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (main entrance), and is absolutely free of charge!

  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!

No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.

Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy, 5 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!

You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!

Oh, and don’t forget.

For Same-Day tickets, only hard cash is accepted!

If you don't feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
If you don’t feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
  • BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead!

On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.

You know how concert tickets sell out in 10 minutes? Yep! They use the same method. Friends! Mates! Neighbours!

Everyone you know!

Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!
Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!

If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account. There is no processing fee, so what you see is what you pay!

You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you by either Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID.

There’s also an exclusive ticket counter for punters with MasterCard!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 6 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €3.50 each!

Oh, and you need to be at least 18 years old to see any of the films (except for Generation screenings).

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez
  • NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!

The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.

Go on live a little!

If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts!

If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!

  • WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and looking forward to picking up your badge and Berlinale gift bag!

Last year, a dedicated Press Screening Guide was made available. And was a godsend!

It’s proving to be the same in 2019!

The press screening guide has information about press screenings, and other events that are available to accredited journalists and media representatives.

And I used the Press Screening Guide to the full!

Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as film tickets are only made available one (1) day prior, and so I found myself checking into the Grand Hyatt Berlin on a daily basis!

At 08:00 in the morning.

Eeek!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

On the other hand, free water, free coffee (Ouch!) free WiFi, a press room, comfy seats, and a quick means of getting all the press stuff and press tickets that you need, are provided.

Everyone is always so helpful and kind because I’m now a pro!

I usually manage to get 99% of the film tickets that I want. However, on the very last film festival day, I sometimes end up buying tickets from my own pocket at the cinema box office, as press tickets are sometimes in limited supply, especially if I really, really, really want to watch something!

All in all, I pretty much get every film ticket that I want.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

Vai – NATIVe 2019 at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© New Zealand Film Commission
  • BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!

I mean, I hardly doubt that a weird film about a businessman who’s so burnt out, that he spends 14 days eating apples in a monastery in Burma, a mother and daughter who spend all day screaming at each other in Beijing, a black and white film about illegitimate foster children in 1920’s Germany, or an old couple who also happen to be traditional reindeer hunters, living all alone in the North Pole, is going to be shown at a local cinema near you!

I really don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Kislota | Acid by Alexander Gorchilin – Panorama 2019 – Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival
© Studio SLON / Kislota
  • STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there.

You get stars such as Christian Bale (Batman / American Psycho), Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes), Diane Kruger, Catherine Deneuve, Bill Nighy, James Norton, Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ), Casey Affleck, Jonah Hill, Jamie Bell (King Kong), Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche, Trudie Styler (wife of Sting), Moritz Bleibtreu, Peter Sarsgaard (husband of Maggie Gyllenhaal), Die Toten Hosen, Peter Lindbergh.

And directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), as well as other other directors, producers, and actors.

In fact, everyone!

Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me at the Berlinale,and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

A few years ago, Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!

Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!

Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.

The gorgeous Idris Elba at the Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival – Director – Yardie 2018. You can just about see my pink phone cover!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
And here’s the very same photo I took of Idris Elba – Director of Yardie – Zoo Palast – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Natalie Dormer was here to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock, & all I could think of was Game of Thrones!
© Thomas Lobenwein – Berlinale Series

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Robert, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money.

If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!

The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.

Helen Mirren at the Berlinale. Because anyone who matters is here!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

And all for the price of a cinema ticket.

Less in some cases!

  • MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you.

Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!

We’re so chilled in Berlin. Bring your beer in at the Kino Casablanca. And make friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez -© Peter Kreibich
  • TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!

See you at the Berlinale!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!

Joaquin Phoenix at the Berlinale – The Berlin International Film Festival – Competition – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot 2018
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This article is not sponsored and even though I receive press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I choose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I’m going to be on German TV again!

I went to Norway. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my How To Visit India posts in February / March!

I’ll be at the 69th Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival taking place between 07.02.19 – 17.02.19, everyone who is anyone will be in Berlin!

Will you?

Save the Date!

February is delightfully rushed!

Catch me if you can!

How I went to 8 exciting countries, went to India, lost my luggage & got trapped and confused in Delhi!

Watch this space!

Please note that there are two affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Let’s get ready for the Berlinale!

Thanks a million!

A Beginners’ Guide to the 69th Berlinale. Yes! The Berlin International Film Festival 2019 is finally here!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see on the Red Carpet? Are you excited? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium?

Last week I told you that The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges.

And.

Horror of horrors.

We flew with Ryanair.

But it was pretty alright!

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

The Golden Statue of Saint Michel – at the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula in Brussels – Belgium

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

So let’s have a look at Belgian food shall we?

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Now because of this marvellous mix of cultures and languages, Belgian food is an eclectic mix of Flemish, French & German cuisine. However, outside of the country itself, Belgium is famously known for its mussels, chocolate, waffles, chips or fries.

And beer!

“Belgian food,” otherwise known as dishes of Belgian origin, or thought of as “typically Belgian,” uses items such as potatoes, leeks, white asparagus, Belgian endives, otherwise known as witloof or witlof (Dutch) or chicory!

And of course, staples such as meat, cheese, butter, and beer!

1.  MUSSELS:

In my opinion, the biggest traditional dish that you can ever have in Belgium is Moules-frites, moules et frites or mosselen-friet (Dutch), but known to you and me, as mussels and chips (fries)!

You can practically see the ingredients jumping out of the pot of mussels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Fresh mussels caught from the sea.

OMG!

Not only are mussels a most popular traditional dish, but they’re also considered to be the national dish of Belgium!

Mussels or moules are usually cooked or steamed as:

  • Moules natures: Mussels, celery, leeks and butter, steamed in a pot
  • Moules marinière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of white wine
  • Moules à la crème: Mussels in a pot of white wine stock, thickened with flour and cream
  • Moules parquées: Raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce (very common in Brussels)
  • Moules à la bière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of beer!
  • Moules à l’ail: Mussels in a pot of sliced or minced garlic
  • Mosselsaus: Mussels in a pot of mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar!
  • Mussels in a pot of espelette pepper, Pernod liquor, or tomato sauce
Mussels served with a huge bowl of frites, chips or fries!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

and served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

As well as Belgium, mussels can be found in Northern France and in Jersey (one of the Channels Islands) linking the UK to France.

In fact, the last time I went to Brittany, I took the ferry on a day trip to Jersey where the locals speak both French and English, and you can use either pounds or Euros.

It’s a very nice island!

But I digress.

Did you know that mussels and chips were invented in Belgium?

We went to this nice restaurant on the riverside next to the fish market called Old Bruges.

I was actually looking for the number eight (8) best seafood restaurant in Bruges called De Gouden Karpel, Vismarkt, but because it was low season, it was closed!

On looking around, I found this one!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Old Bruges looked pretty alright to me, and most importantly, it was the only restaurant at the fishmarket that was actually opened!

I don’t tend to use TripAdvisor for food recommendations as taste vary, but if you do, keep an open mind as the reviews are terrible. Having said that, we went there and the food and service was pretty alright!

We had the Moules natures and the Moules marinière served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

We were so stuffed that we couldn’t order dessert or another glass of something else!

Yum!

Cost: €24.00

2.  BOTERHAMMEN / TARTINES:

Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a butterbröt snack!

This Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a snack. It’s a type of butterbröt and a meal that you would find in many European countries.

Traditionally, it’s a slice of rustic bread served on a wooden board, with a dollop of some sort of ingredient spread all over it such as butter, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, anchovies, cold cuts with radishes, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard or mayonnaise, as well as slices of boiled egg topped with caviar, and of course, pâté!

Some people think that a boterhammen is equivalent to a sandwich, but it isn’t!

A sandwich has two pieces of bread and something in the middle put together. A boterhammen is a single slice of open bread often served with a glass of Gueuze – a fermented Belgian champagne beer – usually found in Brussels!

We had decided not to include breakfast at our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal, ‘cos the breakfast buffet cost a whopping €22.00, and this wasn’t that type of holiday!

Boterhammen or tartine with pâté served with pickles & a dollop of mayonnaise!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

As such, we were pretty famished by lunch-time and saw Der Vier Winden just off the Market Square!

From the outside, the restaurant looked really touristy, and it was. So we ordered the lunch menu!

Our starter was the boterhammen or tartine with pâté.

Our pâté was served with pickles, and a side salad with a dollop of mayonnaise!

Yum!

3.  EEL IN THE GREEN:

Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!
© Takeaway Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0
Raw eels at the fishmongers. Just add your herbs & you’ve got Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert!

Paling in ‘t groen or Anguilles au vert is a traditional Flemish seafood dish, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!

It’s what it says on the tin – freshwater eel made in a green herb sauce of chervil, parsley, sage, ginger mint, oregano, thyme, watercress, tarragon, chives, basil, and stinging nettles.

The eels are made into a type of stew and served with bread or a bowl of frites, and a cold glass of beer!

You can usually find this dish at fishmongers, in market stalls, or even ready-made!

 

4. FRITES:

You can’t get better chips than fries from the Frites Museum in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

There’s no point beating about the bush here, everyone loves chips, otherwise known as fries!

Of course, in Belgium it’s called frites!

I’m not a fan of frites covered with sauces especially mayo and tartare, unless I can dip it in myself...

However, at the Friet Museum / Fries Museum, we learnt all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!

Frites or friets plays an important role in Belgian culture and cuisine.

The secret of the Belgian chip is :

Who doesn’t like fish n’ chips in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018
  • The type of potato used – Preferably a bintje potato
  • The fat or oil used – Unrefined beef tallow or blanc de boeuf
  • Freshly cooked potatoes, rather than raw
  • High temperatures – 190 °C  or 374 °F
  • And the importance of double-frying!

None of your low-fat-low-starch content here!

Cost: €1.40

Sauces: €0.60

5.  WATERZOOI:

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi!

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi, is a dish of stew that was invented in the Belgian town of Ghent!

Waterzooi is traditionally a stew made from freshwater fish, otherwise known as Viszooitje.

However, due to the scarcity of burbot and over-fishing, waterzooi or Kippenwaterzooi, is commonly made from a combination of boiled chicken, vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, swede, leeks, cream and eggs, instead!

6.  WAFFLES:

Traditional Bergische waffles or Belgian waffles!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates, and patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression.

Waffles are eaten all over the world, but one of the most important types of waffle is known as the Belgian waffle or Brussels waffles, which was actually invented in Ghent (1839)!

It became world-famous when the restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, sold his Brussels waffles in America under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” in 1964, and thus, the American Belgian waffle was born!

Waffle is derived from the Dutch word wafel, or wafele, but was first heard as the French word walfre, as far back as 1185, meaning honeycomb or cake!

There are a variety of waffles such as:

Liège Waffles – The most popular waffle in Belgium!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!
  • Traditional Bergische waffles
  • Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande
  • Liège waffles
  • Brussels waffles
  • Stroopwafel
  • Galettes campinoises
  • Belgian waffles
  • American waffles

In Belgium, waffles are street food and can be eaten plain, with powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, soft berries, syrup, or chocolate (American style)!

7.  RABBIT STEW:

If you’re a vegetarian, turn away now ‘cos in our in our household, a fluffy rabbit is called pork!

Being that it’s a Belgian dish, the traditional name of rabbit stew is Konijn in geuze or Lapin à la gueuze, which basically means rabbit stewed in Gueuze, a fermented Belgian champagne beer, usually found in Brussels!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to eat fluffy animals, so in our household, we call rabbit – “pork!”

8.  CHOCOLATE:

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Don’t get me started.

You all know how I detest chocolate...

However, for the integrity of this article, chocolate had to be added.

Belgian chocolate, otherwise known as chocolat belge or Belgische chocolade is chocolate produced in the country of Belgium!

Belgian chocolate goes as far back as 1635! In fact, by the mid-18th century, chocolate had become so popular among the aristocracy, that hot chocolate became de rigueur as to who could actually drink it!

Chocolate plays an important part in the Belgian economy, and there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, exported all over the world and shaped like sea shells, fish, diamonds and artistic creations that can be bought at town centres, market stands, and pretty much every village shop in Belgium!

When in Belgium, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles!

If you’re a fan, you know what to do, so don’t let me stop you from visiting the Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum, and of course, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles.

I bought a packet of organic milk chocolate Belgian thins. With almonds and toasted coconut chips (Yuk!) for my husband – The Music Producer. Cost: €5.90

That’s all I have to say!

9.  BELGIAN BEER:

Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously, but it’s alright!

OK. Belgian beer!

I live in Germany, so Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously!

Belgian beer spans from a variety of pale lagers to lambic beers and Flanders or Flemish red-brown ales! There are about 180  breweries in Belgium, and microbeers are a pretty big scene!

As in most parts of Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, beer culture isn’t just downing the cheap stuff as quickly as possible, and getting pissed, it’s a way of life!

Belgians drink up to 84 litres of beer a year, and are bought or served in bottles, and uniquely shaped beer glasses!

Belgian beer in Bruges – Brugse Zot!

While we were at the Old Bruges restaurant, I ordered a Belgian beer called Brugse Zot! Belgium isn’t Croatia or Slovenia, so things cost a little more. In this case, €6.00!

On the other hand, when we went to Der Vier Winden, my Stella beer cost a mere €3.50!

Son had an iced-tea. Cost: €3.75

He also had a Canada Dry. Cost €:4.00!

WHERE DID WE STAY?

Our 4 star hotel – Martin’s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

We stayed at the beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal.

In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

I booked the Comfort Twin Room for character, as it featured high ceilings, a garden, a walk-in closet, river views, lots of space and free WiFi!

I thought it was a brilliant choice.

Cost: €97.62 per night. For two people, easily €48.81 a pop!

You can book Martin’s Relais here or in the banner link below!

Laters!

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Bacon Pie in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful mussels and frites we devoured, are my very own!

I’ve got fantastic news. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

Last week, I travelled to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess where it was?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re craaaazy!

Spring’s finally here!

That’s it for now.

We had a great time in Belgium.

See you next week!

Victoria in Bruges by the waterside – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever had Belgian food? Do you like mussels and chips, or would you prefer waffles? Can you guess which new country I went to? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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