For those who follow this little film blog, you would’ve known by now that I have quite a thing for film festivals. There are no other events in my annual calendar (heck, not even Christmas or my own birthday) that get me buzzing with supercharged excitement than festivals of the cinematic kind. Not only do I get to see the most recent films before they’re unleashed to the rest of the world, but I can also get to indulge in my unbridled passion for film mostly for free (like every other accredited film critic or journalist in attendance). Last year, I did Cannes and London – now I’ve flown myself to Central Europe to cover this year’s Berlinale, or simply Berlin Film Festival for our less German-acquainted friends.
Compared to most decent and well-travelled individuals of the modern world, I am still (rather pathetically) catching up with jet-setting around Europe. Suffice to say, this is the first time I’ve set foot in Berlin, let alone taking part in the city’s famous film festival. So forgive me for sounding like a fucking tourist, but this city is amazing. Despite the freezing temperature, cold enough to shrivel up any pair of balls, there is so much bohemian spirit abound and there’s a sizzling vibe around the Postdamer Platz quarter to warm up my noggins. It’s not as glamorous as Cannes, but everything I’ve seen so far looks functional just the way Germans like it and the artistic verisimilitude on show here is as credible as any festival I’ve been to.
There is a reason why Berlinale is touted as the world’s largest public film festival – there are over 400 plus films on the circuit, and being the first festival to open the year in Europe (second only to Sundance, in the world). The vast film consumption here ranges from the commercial Hollywood products (Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men) to the lesser-known, independent world cinema efforts (Ye Lou’s Tui Na, one of the three Chinese films in competition, Josephine Decker’s Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Karim Aïnouz’s Praia do Futuro). And somewhere in the middle is Lars von Trier’s hotly anticipated uncut version of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1, something that will certainly heat up the Berlinale Palast.
Here’s the quirky poster of The Grand Budapest Hotel adorning almost every straße in Berlin:
There’s a very diverse mix of films in the Berlinale programme – one look in the catalogue made my head spin, and partly because it’s mostly written in Deutsch. But from what I comprehended, I am mostly looking forward to Richard Linklater’s epic coming-of-age odyssey Boyhood, Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange, Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January and Bong Joon-Ho’s sci-fi kerfuffle-magnet Snowpiercer (from what I’ve gathered, there’s no press screening in order so fuck knows how I’m going to get a ticket to this one).
Anyway, as long as I get to see this film pictured below, my Berlin adventure won’t be wasted at all. Any film festival with Von Trier partaking is worth going to. That man is sex and controversy on legs.
The festival officially opens tomorrow, 6 February. It hasn’t snowed here yet, but it’s bloody cold. Unless I freeze while queuing up outside the cinemas here, expect plenty of fanciful scribblings from The Moviejerk over the next ten days of film orgy.