28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!
© Enrico Verworner

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, German Unity Day or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

This most important day will take place on October the 3rd.

October 3rd is a public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), otherwise also known as West Germany!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

I cannot under-estimate how much I love this city.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

Oh yeah, and then I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

I mean, what is the big deal?

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin.

THIS city of Berlin.

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

That’s right.

28 years!

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28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
@25 Archiv. Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split and divided by the allies as punishment for Nazi Germany. And you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely; Great Britain, France, USSR and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways, and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany went one step further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city!

This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from escaping. As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the death strip because so many people were killed while trying to flee.

I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called Mauer Park.

The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is now enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

The Death Strip in now East Berlin but formerly French – Soviet Germany!
©Joyce, S. A.

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell. The Fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.

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STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

The Berlin Wall.
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here! In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion, when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East!

In fact, I liked Kreuzberg so much that when I first made a documentary about being a British person in Berlin, we did the filming there!

OMG! Don’t I just look like a city babe!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

In Prenzlauer Berg where I live now, we’re about twenty (20) minutes from the original East-West border, and about ten (10) minutes from the first border crossing on the bridge of Bornholmer Straße. If you’ve ever since the videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping and giving out free beer, it was that one!

I always take my friends to where the original wall used to be!

And let me tell you.

I always weep tears of joy because even though I wasn’t in Berlin when the Berlin Wall actually fell, living in Berlin means that I’m able to touch, see and sometimes smell, what it was like to live here pre-1989!

Potsdamer Platz today!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

In fact, I can still remember when Potsdamer Platz was nothing more than wasteland and a piece of the border strip known as No Man’s Land. And looked like it too!

Not far off from Prenzlauer Berg, is a street called Bernauer Strasse, also known as Bernauer Straße!

Bernauer Straße as part of the Berlin Wall in 1961 – Frank Baake © Thomas Gade

As you can see, the Berlin Wall used to go right through it!

In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Wall from your kitchen window, but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! ©frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
©frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape to freedom and found ways to be creative by sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

Not much of the Wall is left today, which was chipped off and destroyed almost in its entirety, however, three (3) long sections are still standing:

The Topography of Terror. You can still see parts of the Berlin Wall right behind it!
©Britta Scherer

An 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the now Topography of Terror, but which used to be the site of the former Gestapo headquarters!

But obviously, the original building was razed to the ground.
The Berlin Wall, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

A longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the River Spree near the Oberbaumbrücke in Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain, which you can see throughout the 1988 cult film Run Lola Run, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

Bernauer Straße in both East & West Berlin!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

 

And a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999.

And of course, isolated fragments, lampposts, a few watchtowers, and other elements, remain throughout various parts of the city!

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

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SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 28 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

Let’s get some history!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity” also known as “Re-Unification Day.”


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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Climbing up the Berlin Wall for Freedom! Freedom!!

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution.

The 28th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is important because Berlin will continue to invite locals, expats, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to participate in the anniversary celebrations, and to tell personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Outside Bernauer Straße in Berlin. Everyone is going to be here!

Everyone is going to be here!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Yep! The Festival of Lights!

Festival of Lights ©Kerstin Röhner

Once a year, Berlin’s world famous sights and monuments become the canvas for spectacular light and video projections.

From 06.10.17 – 15.10.17, the Festival of Lights will transform Berlin’s most famous landmarks and historical monuments through light projections and video art whereby different artists will light up the capital, and illuminate buildings in many parts of the city!

Not only that, but the Festival of Lights also includes various art and music events, photography workshops, open house opportunities at selected buildings, and charity events, as well as guided tours by bus, boat and on foot!

Most of the participating monuments will be focused on the city centre, and will be illuminated from 19:00 until midnight.

Every day!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Festival of Lights website here!

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Festival of Lights ©Alexander Meier

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!

Yipee!

October & November is going to be smashing.

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Watch this space!

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!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Have you ever been to Berlin? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall Fell. Where were you in 1989? Let me know in the 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

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

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Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!
An Affair with Chocolate – ©Sarah Robinson

I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but for the first time ever, I didn’t write a post in a week!

You might wonder why that was so.

After all, I was all geared up to write about the lovely time that we had in Slovenia.

Well, firstly, something rather wonderful happened and equally, something rather awful happened too!

I’ll be telling you about the wonderful thing in about a fortnight (two weeks), but I probably won’t ever tell you about the awful thing, as it concerns people who I love.

Hello from Germany!

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

And let me tell you, events have made it crystal clear how lucky I am to be living here, and the speed and efficiency in which things are done.

The German Way!

And since it’s been some time since I’ve actually written about Berlin, perhaps I should.

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Get up, brush down, wipe away the tears, keep calm, and Carry On with things!

On that note, I’ve decided to write a compilation of the best articles that I’ve written about Berlin.

If you’re here for the first time, join in the fun.

I know I will!

If you’re a new reader, you’ll see a Mail Chimp subscription pop-up. Eek!

However, before we start, you might notice a tiny change on the blog. If you’re a new reader, you’ll see a Mail Chimp subscription pop-up. Eek!

There’s nothing to fear. As always, you’ll never receive any spam or weird emails from me, however, in September, I’ll start sending out a newsletter so you’ll get the latest update as to what I’ve been up to. And let me tell you, it’ll blow your mind!

If you haven’t already done so, please join up.

Berlin – very British – rbb

For those of you who have been dying to hear how I sound, there are a few videos on the side bar. Sadly, the documentary and various other TV show that I did in German, are no longer available online, but if you’re a member of the press, and wish to see them, copies are available!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to London, here’s what you missed:

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Good times!

And now, without further ado, here the best articles that I’ve written about Berlin.

Enjoy!

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BEST OF BERLIN – 4 YEARS AND COUNTING!

The beautiful French Quarter – Gendarmenmarkt – in Berlin

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Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

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At the Berlin Music Video Awards (BMVA)
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

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Hugh Jackman – Logan – at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)
©Berlinale

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Backstage
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin SPRING/SUMMER 2017
©Nass / Brauer

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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017
©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography

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Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner for Bild am Sonntag
©Christian Spreitz

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Eddie Izzard
ⒸSerious Fun Quatsch Comedy Club, Berlin
On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

And my two favourites:

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

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BEST OF BERLIN – 4 YEARS AND COUNTING!

The TV tower in Berlin.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!

I’ll be there. Will you?

It’s all about the beer – Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Watch this space!

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!

Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Have you ever been to Berlin? What do you think is “best”?

Let me know in the 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

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

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