A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale, otherwise known as the Berlin International Film Festival 2017!

Stanley Tucci as the marvellous Director of the film - Final Portrait, at the Berlinale. ©Berlinale
Stanley Tucci as the marvellous Director of the film – Final Portrait, at the Berlinale.
©Berlinale

OMG!

  • 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!

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There's just so much to dooo!
The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There’s just so much to dooo!

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, and using the train no less, as well as floating through Berlin Fashion Week, rushing through windmills in Holland, and skiing in the Czech Mountains, which the official Twitter account of Visit Czech Republic, kindly retweeted and shared!

And just the other week, the Sputnik Kino put out all the stops to bring us the British Shorts Film Festival too!

Book your hotel here!

Diego Luna & Maggie Gyllenhaal at the Berlinale. ©Berlinale
Diego Luna & Maggie Gyllenhaal at the Berlinale.
©Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin has been hobnobbing with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Richard Gere and Jonny Lee Miller of T2 Trainspotting. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 67th 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 quite easy.

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

My press pass at the Berlinale.
My press pass at the Berlinale.

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, 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, mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format! Formats such as epic international cinema (Competition), independent art house (Panorama), films for a younger audience (Generation), new talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino), avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded), weird black and white science fiction (Retrospective), film classics / rediscovered films (Berlinale Classics), cult films (Homage), and 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), and short pieces (Berlinale Shorts).

Jeanne Werner. And if you look closely, I'm sitting on the right, on the row behind her! You can just about see my hands! Es war einmal in Deutschland - Bye Bye Germany. ©Berlinale
Jeanne Werner. And if you look closely, I’m sitting on the right, on the row behind her! You can just about see my hands!
Es war einmal in Deutschland – Bye Bye Germany. ©Berlinale

And with more than:

  • 335,000 sold tickets
  • 20,000 professional visitors
  • 122 countries
  • 3,800 journalists
Press hacks at the Berlinale!
Press hacks at the Berlinale!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 9th of February to the 19th February, 2017, Berlin will be packed solid with members of the film industry.

My heart swells 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. 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.

Book your hotel here!

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU! ©Berlinale
Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
©Berlinale

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 BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Punters waiting at the Berlinale Palast to see the stars. Be prepared & wrap up warmly! ©Berlinale
Punters waiting at the Berlinale Palast to see the stars. Be prepared & wrap up warmly!
©Berlinale
  • 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 programme planner. Use this item to 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.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale.
  • 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 in every cinema forum in the city. Just help yourself!
  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the programme planner for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and, for the first time ever, download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme planner 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 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 at the Berlinale Open House! © Berlinale
Relax & check my social media at the Berlinale Open House!
© Berlinale
  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow my 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, the venue, and the time. Then make a second list with different films. Just in case. And a third one too!
Look at the packed crowd for the World Premier of Es war einmal in Deutschland - Bye Bye Germany. Aim to arrive early!
Look at the packed crowd for the World Premier of Es war einmal in Deutschland – Bye Bye Germany.
Aim to arrive early!
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover 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!
  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 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. No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, then get there early.
Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!

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 4 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 7.30 pm, which 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!

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 with an extra processing fee of €2.00 per ticket. You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you either by 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 ID card.

There’s an exclusive ticket counter only for punters with Mastercard!

Book your hotel here!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable!
Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable!
  • TICKET PRICES: Berlinale tickets are generally between €4.00 – €22.00! A 50% discount is available for selected last-minute tickets and of course, if you’re a student, of school age, on welfare, etc, then a 50% discount on tickets are available too.

If you register by telephone, groups of at least 5 people for Generation tickets, cost just €2.50 each!

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket! © Berlinale
Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Berlinale
  • 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 though. 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, at the Berlinale! ©Berlinale
A film industry and press-only conference, at the Berlinale!
©Berlinale
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and have your badge and Berlinale gift bag! Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as 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!

Book your hotel here!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne!
After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne!

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 has been so helpful and kind and because I’m now a pro. I’ve gotten each and every film ticket that I have wanted so far.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

Bing Lang Xue - The Taste of Betel Nut - A Hong Kong film at the Berlinale. ©Berlinale
Bing Lang Xue – The Taste of Betel Nut – A Hong Kong film at the Berlinale.
©Berlinale

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, and films over issues that I would never usually go for ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Menashe - The first Yiddish film to be presented at the Berlinale. Ever! © Federica Valabrega
Menashe – The first Yiddish film to be presented at the Berlinale. Ever!
© Federica Valabrega
  • 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 Richard Gere, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Gillian Anderson (Scully), Chloë Sevigny, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting), Timothy Spall, Steeve Coogan, Cillian Murphy, Sibel Kekili (Game of Thrones), Moritz Bleibtreu, Jason Issacs (Harry Potter), and Geoffrey Rush. Directors such as Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), Danny Boyle (Trainspotting & Slum Dog Millionaire), Gurinder Chadh (Bend it like Beckham), and other directors, producers, 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!
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!

Three 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.

George Clooney © Berlinale
George Clooney
© Berlinale

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Jonny Lee Miller or Richard Gere, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Richard Gere at the Berlinale. Everyone went crazy! ©Berlinale
Richard Gere at the Berlinale. Everyone went crazy!
©Berlinale

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George & Richard. 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.

Practically every member of the T2 Trainspotting cast got mobbed at the Berlinale. Even Ewen Bremner - Spud! ©Berlinale
Practically every member of the T2 Trainspotting cast got mobbed at the Berlinale. Even Ewen Bremner – Spud!
©Berlinale

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!
Make Friends at the Berlinale! ©Berlinale
Make Friends at the Berlinale!
©Berlinale
  • 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 BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Laura Hajek & the hilarious Steve Coogan at the Berlinale. ©Berlinale
Laura Hajek & the hilarious Steve Coogan at the Berlinale.
©Berlinale

This article is not sponsored and even though I received press tickets, all opinions and the excellent festival films that I chose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing the films that I saw at the Berlinale.

February is enjoyably rushed!

Catch me if you can!

A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale, otherwise known as the Berlin International Film Festival 2017! ©Berlinale

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!

A Beginners' Guide to the Berlinale, otherwise known as the Berlin International Film Festival 2017!
A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale, otherwise known as the Berlin International Film Festival 2017!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see in real life? 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!

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12 fantastic festival films you should really watch – Lights! Camera! Action!!!

The film team with Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson & Daniel Brühl. © Berlinale
The film team with Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson & Daniel Brühl.
© Berlinale

Wow!

Tonight is the last day of the Berlin International Film Festival otherwise known as the Berlinale! And what a wonderful time we’ve had!

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

I live in Berlin. Of course, I’ve been to the Berlinale before but never as a press person.

Never as a professional blogger!

Let me tell you.

It was awesome!

Spike Lee. © Berlinale
Spike Lee.
© Berlinale

Berlin has been hobnobbing with the best. If it’s good enough for the likes of the talented Emma Thompson, Spike Lee, Jude Law, Hugh Laurie, and Julianne Moore surely, it’s good enough for you!

In the flurry of excitement and talented art, I managed to watch thirty-two (32) films in just ten (10) days.

Thirty-two!

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

Berlin - very British - rbb

I’m a corporate trainer, I’m married and have a young son, so I always have to get smart and creative. During the week, I went to only one movie per day – late night – and then really went crazy over the weekend.

I must be mad!

Here are the films that I watched:

Goat. © Berlinale
Goat.
© Berlinale
  • Xénogénèse.
  • Short Stay.
  • Another City.
  • Six Cents in the Pocket.
  • He Who Eats Children.
  • The Diver – El Buzo.
  • Vintage Print.
  • Siv Sleeps Astray – Siv sover vilse.
  • I Am Sion Sono!!
  • Tokyo Cabbageman K.
  • The Ones Below.
  • The Lovers and the Despot.
The Patriarch - Mahana. © Berlinale
The Patriarch – Mahana.
© Berlinale
  • The Patriarch – Mahana.
  • Dog Days – San Fu Tian.
  • Dust Cloth – Toz bezi.
  • Remainder.
  • Noma – My Perfect Storm.
  • Don’t Call Me Son – Mãe só há uma.
  • Shelley.
  • Europe, She Loves.
  • Road to Istanbul – La Route d’Istanbul.
  • Goat.
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain. © Berlinale
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain.
© Berlinale
  • In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain.
  • The Lamps.
  • Personne.
  • End of Season.
  • Batrachian’s Ballad – Balada de um Batráquio
  • Where to Invade Next.
  • United States of Love – Zjednoczone stany miłości.
  • Little Men.
  • Rara.
  • Those Who Jump – Les Sauteurs.
Where to Invade Next. © Berlinale
Where to Invade Next.
© Berlinale

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

So without further ado, here are the 12 films that I recommend, in alphabetical order.

12 FANTASTIC FESTIVAL FILMS YOU SHOULD REALLY WATCH!!!

Berlinale Talent - 12 fantastic festival films you should really watch with meeeee! © Berlinale
Berlinale Talent – 12 fantastic festival films you should really watch with meeeee!
© Berlinale

1. Don’t Call Me Son – Mãe só há uma.

Don't Call Me Son - Mãe só há uma. © Berlinale
Don’t Call Me Son – Mãe só há uma.
© Berlinale

This Brazilian production based on a true story, is a warm, heartfelt emotional film about a teenager who finds out that not only is he adopted, but both he and his younger sister were stolen as children!

His world falls apart.

His mother goes to jail, his sister is taken away to live with the biological parents that she has never met, and he has to live with his “new” biological parents who have no idea that he’s bi-sexual and gender neutral.

The main actor – Naomi Nero – was at the film screening and was quite a lovely shy chap. I even managed to have a shake of the hand and a very quick “hi” chat!

2. Europe, She Loves.

Europe, She Loves. © Berlinale
Europe, She Loves.
© Berlinale

This production is a real-life documentary about four (4) couples set in four (4) European cities – Tallinn (Estonia), Seville (Spain), Dublin (Ireland), and Thessaloniki (Spain).

The film is a close-up insight of how these couples see themselves within the sphere of the European Union, as well as their daily struggles, employment issues, relationships, family, passion, sex and love.

Being that the movie was set and produced in Europe, no holds were barred with ahem. intimate filming… and everything was real!

Gulp!

A most inspiring film!

3. Noma – My Perfect Storm.

Noma - My Perfect Storm. © Berlinale
Noma – My Perfect Storm.
© Berlinale

Wow!

Food porn at it’s best, and a bloody fantastic Nordic film!

This film is a creative journey into the mind of René Redzepi – the brains and creator of Noma – A small organic and naturally sourced restaurant, located in Denmark, Copenhagen.

The production is the story of how he changed the image of Scandinavian food from boring and bland, to the pedigree of the as-of-now trendy Nordic cuisine.  René established a new edible world while radically changing the image of the modern chef.

Follow René’s story as he reigned over the realm of Nordic gourmet cuisine, had a restaurant scandal, clawed his way back to the top, reinvented NOMA, and reclaimed the title of best restaurant in the world in 2014!

For only the fourth time!

In fact, I’m so impressed that I’m going to do my best to visit NOMA in Copenhagen this summer, myself!

4. Remainder.

Remainder. © Berlinale
Remainder.
© Berlinale

This is a British / German production based on the Tom McCarthy’s novel of the same name. This film is about a young man who is hit by a fallen object in a freak accident.

When he awakens from his coma he is given £8.5m in compensation and his memory has disappeared. All that remains is a fragmentary image of a small boy on the top of the staircase, in an old house.

Using his enormous wealth, the young man buys a house and fills it with actors to re-create and play out the scene again, and again, but as scraps of memory return, his demands grow increasingly complicated, risky and weird.

This was the only film throughout the Berlinale film festival that I was able to watch together with The Music Producer. I squeezed my husband’s hand a lot! And I even got a Twitter shout out from the production team of the main British actor – Tom Sturridge!

A clever, brilliant film.

5. Road to Istanbul – La Route d’Istanbul.

Road to Istanbul - La Route d'Istanbul. © Berlinale
Road to Istanbul – La Route d’Istanbul.
© Berlinale

A Belgian film about the journey of a mother whose daughter – Elodie – has disappeared.

In shock, the mother discovers that her daughter has left for Cyprus. Her goal  – Syria!!

Alone, divorced and abandoned by the authorities, she tries to get her daughter back by personally travelling to Turkey, and trying to smuggle herself into a very dangerous, war-zone Syria!

This film is the struggle of a mother who must fight for the daughter she loves.

A wonderful, heart wrenching film!

6. Shelley.

Shelley. © Berlinale
Shelley.
© Berlinale

A lot of people seemed to think that Shelly is a horror film.

It isn’t.

It’s disturbing and harrowing, but you won’t lose any sleep over it.

At least I didn’t!

Based loosely on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the film Shelley is a Danish / Swedish production about a young Romanian woman – Elena – who goes to Denmark to work as a housekeeper.

The house is isolated, and the couple who own the house prefer to live without the use of electricity, and from the fruit of the land.

Shelley. © Berlinale
Shelley.
© Berlinale

The couple – Louise and her husband are unable to have children and a suggestion for Elena to be the surrogate mother, is made. However, instead of a joyous moment, Elena begins to have bizarre hallucinations and unbearable sensations. She also begins to change psychologically and physically….!

Disturbing. Gruesome, but brilliant!

p.s. There’s a baby involved, but I wasn’t scared!

7. Siv Sleeps Astray – Siv sover vilse.

Siv Sleeps Astray - Siv sover vilse. © Berlinale
Siv Sleeps Astray – Siv sover vilse.
© Berlinale

This Swedish production is a film about a child’s exciting adventure. A magical place where anything can happen and badgers can talk and wear red wellies and where rooms get larger and smaller and the vacuum cleaner comes to life!

The film is based on a picture book by Pija Lindenbaum famous for writing stories told from the viewpoint of a child, with the magic and realism of Alice in Wonderland, and a Swedish version of Tim Burton!

I think children the world over would agree, as the theatre was jam-packed with kids and the young actors were marvellous!

A lovely Swedish film!

8. The Lovers and the Despot.

The Lovers and the Despot. © Berlinale
The Lovers and the Despot.
© Berlinale

This British / Korean production is a sensational thriller-romance-documentary that tells the true-life story of a young ambitious South Korean film director – Shin Sang-ok – and his talented actress wife – Choi Eun-hee – who met, and fell in love in post-war Korea of the 1950s.

With a string of awards to their name and two children, they reach the top of Korean society, and it seems that things couldn’t get any better for the golden couple. However, Shin has an affair with a younger actress, the Shin Films company is in financial trouble, and by 1978 the couple are divorced.

Somewhere along the way, Choi is kidnapped by North Korean agents in Hong Kong, and taken to meet Kim Jong-il, the de facto leader of North Korea. A few months later, whilst retracing Choi’s last steps, Shin finds himself kidnapped to North Korea too!

After five years of imprisonment, they are eventually reunited by the brutal but movie-obsessed dictator – Kim Jong-il, who declares them his own personal filmmakers!

The Lovers and the Despot. © Berlinale
The Lovers and the Despot.
© Berlinale

Having rekindled their love for each other, they plan their escape from North Korea, but not before producing 17 feature films for Kim and gaining his trust in the process, so that while on a business trip to Vienna (Austria), Shin and Choi  escape and make a break for the American Embassy.

In return for information on North Korea, they are given asylum in the USA, where a career in Hollywood beckons…

Wow!

You couldn’t make it up.

A fly on the wall pieced-together-documentary, of a political mad man and true love.

You won’t regret it!

9. The Ones Below.

The Ones Below. © Berlinale
The Ones Below.
© Berlinale

This British production is a dark, modern fairy tale in which the lives of two couples become fatally intertwined. Kate (Clémence Poésy) and Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) live in the upstairs flat of a London house. Thirty-something, successful and affluent, they are expecting their first baby.

All appears well on the surface although Kate, like any first-time mother, harbours deep-rooted fears about her fitness to be a mother and her ability to love her child.

Another couple, Jon (David Morrissey) and Theresa (Laura Birn), move into the empty apartment below. They are also expecting a baby and, in stark contrast to Kate, Theresa is full of joy at the prospect of imminent motherhood.

The Ones Below. © Berlinale
The Ones Below.
© Berlinale

Pregnancy brings the two women together in a blossoming friendship as Kate becomes entranced by Theresa’s unquestioning celebration of her family-to-be.

But everything changes one night at a dinner party and a tragic accident throws Kate and Justin into a living nightmare and a reign of psychological terror begins…..!

A fantastic film.

If you find it, watch it!!

10. Those Who Jump – Les Sauteurs.

Those Who Jump - Les Sauteurs. © Berlinale
Those Who Jump – Les Sauteurs.
© Berlinale

This Danish / Mali / French production is a documentary-experiment where the protagonist becomes the documentary filmmaker. Shot entirely by a migrant from Mali – Abou Sidibé – it’s a true-life story and the film transforms you – the viewer – into Abou on the top of a mountain region (Mount Gurugú) in Morocco, that effectively is categorised as Spain.

In short, a part of Europe in Africa.

Over a thousand hopeful African migrants live on Mount Gurugú watching the land border – a fence system separating Morocco and Spain – on one of the world’s most militarized frontiers.

Abou from Mali is one of the migrants and is also the protagonist in front of the camera, as well as the person behind it. For 16 months, he has ceaselessly persisted in attempting to jump the fence.

At the fence are rough razor-wires, automatic pepper spray and brutal authorities.

Those Who Jump - Les Sauteurs. © Berlinale
Those Who Jump – Les Sauteurs.
© Berlinale

After every failed attempt, the men return to Mount Gurugú scouring for food in the nearby villages, trying to uphold some sort of order in the camp, and building up their confidence again. Some give up and return home, whilst others never return from the fence.

Looking through the lens, Abou gradually finds expression and meaning in his situation but after 16 months on the mountain, Abou is brought close to death and a tragic accident. Returning to Mali is not an option for him, and he becomes ever more determined to pursue his dream of a better life in Europe. And for Abou, the inequality that defines our times is a simple fact.

This film is a harrowing, distressing film filled with abject hope. To watch the film is to be immersed in the Kafkaesque nightmare of migration.

A masterpiece of empathy and moral imagination.

Go see for yourself.

11. United States of Love – Zjednoczone stany miłości.

United States of Love - Zjednoczone stany miłości. © Berlinale
United States of Love – Zjednoczone stany miłości.
© Berlinale

This Polish production is set in the Poland of 1990 – the first euphoric year of freedom after the Fall of the Berlin Wall – and as a result, uncertainty of the future.

Four apparently happy women of different ages, decide it’s time to change their lives, fight for their happiness, and fulfill their desires.

Agata is a young mother trapped in an unhappy marriage, who seeks refuge in an impossible relationship. Renata is an older teacher fascinated with her neighbour Marzena. Marzena is a lonely former local beauty queen whose husband works in Germany. Marzena’s sister – Iza – is the Director of the local school and having an affair with the father of one of her students.

United States of Love - Zjednoczone stany miłości. © Berlinale
United States of Love – Zjednoczone stany miłości.
© Berlinale

It’s a bare-all film with stark, almost black and white photography, scenes of the former-Eastern Bloc, smoking, frontal nudity, and sexual stimulation!

I can’t decide if the nudity or the constant smoking offended me more, as I was watching the film at 09:30 in the morning!

Honestly speaking, I think the thing that shocked me most was the smoking at the dinner table and in every conversation!

Highly recommended all the same!

And finally, of course,

12. Tokyo Cabbageman K!

Tokyo Cabbageman K! © Berlinale
Tokyo Cabbageman K!
© Berlinale

A weird film about a Japanese man running around with a cabbage on his head!

Seriously though, this Japanese production is derived from Akira Ogata’s cult film – TOKYO CABBAGEMAN K – in which a young man named K wakes up one morning and discovers that his head has been replaced by a huge Chinese cabbage!

If you’re going to mutate into something, wonders a friend, why a cabbage head and not a vampire?

K’s new appearance quickly turns him into a Japanese media star and sex object. Bizarrely being a celebrity proves too much so he plants himself into a cabbage patch!

What can I say?!

Quirky!

Retrospective Der junge Törless (Young Törless). © Berlinale
Retrospective Der junge Törless (Young Törless).
© Berlinale

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 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!

Berlinale Talents - Berlin International Film Festival. © Berlinale
Berlinale Talents – Berlin International Film Festival.
© Berlinale

This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary tickets, all opinions and the amazing festival films that I saw, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Cinestar Original will be showing William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” on 25.02.2016, presented by the National Theatre LIVE!

In March, I’ll be travelling to England, Spain & Portugal!

February is wet and lovely!

Me!
Me!

Which of these awesome films would you choose?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or 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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

 

A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlin International Film Festival 2016, otherwise known as the Berlinale!

George Clooney © Berlinale
George Clooney
© Berlinale

OMG!

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

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

Only a few weeks ago I was sipping champagne & scribbling away while the skinniest of people catwalked in front of my knees! And just the other week, the Sputnik Kino put out all the stops to bring us the British Shorts Film Festival.

Meryl Streep & Clive Owen. © Berlinale
Meryl Streep & Clive Owen.
© Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin has been hobnobbing with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Meryl Streep and Clive Owen. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 66th 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 quite easy.

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

Myself at the Berlinale.
Myself at the Berlinale.

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, fascinating new films, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world.

That’s right.

From the 11th of February to the 21st February, 2016, Berlin will be packed solid with members of the film industry.

My heart swells 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. 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.

You're welcome. YOU!

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 BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE 2016!

Around Potsdamer Platz at the Berlinale in Berlin. © Berlinale
Around Potsdamer Platz at the Berlinale in Berlin.
© Berlinale
  • 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 programme planner. Use this item to 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. © Berlinale
Search for a programme at the Berlinale.
© Berlinale
  • 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 in every cinema forum in the city. Just help yourself!
  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the programme planner for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and, for the first time ever, download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme planner 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 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 at the Berlinale Open House! © Berlinale
Relax & check my social media at the Berlinale Open House!
© Berlinale
  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow my 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, the venue, and the time. Then make a second list with different films. Just in case. And a third one too!
Wading throught the crowd for the Berlinale at the Delphi Filmpalast. © Berlinale
Wading through the crowd for the Berlinale at the Delphi Filmpalast.
© Berlinale
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover soon after, that they can’t actually watch it ‘cos they’re still in a previous film! 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!
  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 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. No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, then get there early.
Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!

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 4 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 7.30 pm, which 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 about 08:00!

  • 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.
Screaming teenaged boys and girls!
Screaming teenaged boys and girls!

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

You’ll have to create a for-payment account in order to buy tickets online with an extra processing fee of €1.50 per ticket. You can use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you either by 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 ID card.

  • TICKET PRICES: Berlinale tickets are generally between €4.00 – €14.00! A 50% discount is available for selected last-minute tickets and of course, if you’re a student, of school age, on welfare, etc, then a 50% discount on tickets are available too.
Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket! © Berlinale
Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Berlinale
  • 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 though. 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!
Lars Eidinger & Members of the Press! © Berlinale
Lars Eidinger & Members of the Press!
© Berlinale
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and have your badge and Berlinale gift bag! Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves as 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!

On the other hand, free bottles of 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 has been so helpful and kind and not counting the first day where I really hadn’t a clue what I was doing, I’ve gotten each and every film ticket that I have wanted so far.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

Chang Jiang Tu - Crosscurrent - A Chinese film at the Berlinale. © Berlinale
Chang Jiang Tu – Crosscurrent – A Chinese film at the Berlinale.
© Berlinale
  • 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 Japanese film with a man running around with a cabbage on his head is going to be shown at a local cinema near you! Or how about a Turkish – Kurdish film about the lives of cleaning women in Istanbul.

I don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films (hence the cabbage head!) obscure East European films (such as Serbia) and Anglo-American films with controversial topics such as death and abandonment.

Channing Tatum, George Clooney and any questions you might have! © Berlinale
Channing Tatum, George Clooney and any questions you might have!
© Berlinale
  • 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 Merly Streep, Clive Owen, Amal & George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, Daniel Brühl, Heike Makatsch, Kirsten Dunst, Yuko Takeuchi, Sibel Kekili (Game of Thrones). Directors such as the Coen brothers, other directors, producers, actors. Everyone! Two 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.

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like Channing Tatum or George Clooney, all that flies out of the window and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Meryl Streep & the Opening Gala. Everyone went crazy! © Berlinale
Meryl Streep & the Opening Gala. Everyone went crazy!
© Berlinale

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George) 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.

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!
Make Friends! Berlinale Goes Kiez - Jug-yeo-ju-neun Yeo-ja (The Bacchus Lady) © Berlinale
Make Friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez – Jug-yeo-ju-neun Yeo-ja (The Bacchus Lady)
© Berlinale
  • 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!

For more information. Please contact: the Berlin International Film Festival – the Berlinale.

The lovely Tilda Swinton in Berlin. © Berlinale
The lovely Tilda Swinton in Berlin.
© Berlinale

This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary tickets, all opinions and the excellent festival films that I chose, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing the films that I saw at the Berlinale.

Cinestar Original will be showing William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” on 25.02.2016, presented by the National Theatre LIVE!

In March, I’ll be travelling to England, Spain & Portugal!

February is pleasantly exhausting!

Catch me if you can!

A Beginners' Guide to the Berlin International Film Festival - Berlinale 2016.

Have you ever been to the Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale? Do you have any other tips or suggestions?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or 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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!