Berlinale is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. The Berlin Film Festival creates a buzz across the city for two weeks each February. This year over 300,000 tickets have been sold to visitors from 127 different countries and in the region of 3700 journalists will attend.
The festival was started by the Americans after World War II to bring back some of the glitz the city had been known for during the roaring twenties. In 1951 the festival opened with Hitchcock’s Rebecca and the glamour hasn’t waned since that first night.
It is renowned for being a hotbed of global fresh talent. The ‘Berlinale Talents’ college is specifically for professionals from film and television who are in the first ten years of their career. It runs at the same time as the main awards event and sees industry big hitters offer workshops and talks to emerging talents. In the past names such as Ridley Scott and Tilda Swinton have presented to the 250 attendees.
The award itself is the golden or silver bear, the bear is the symbol of Berlin. It is as coveted as the Palme d’Or from Cannes. The Golden Bear is given to the winners of the three main categories – best motion picture, best short film and the lifetime achievement award. The other category winners take home a Silver Bear.
Previous winners of the best motion picture have been from all over the world including Germany. ‘Stammheim’ by Reinhard Hauff took home the bear in 1986. Hollywood blockbusters such as ‘Rainman’ in 1989 and ‘The People Versus Larry Flint’ in 1997 have also managed to win the award.
This year the festival will open with a stop-motion film called ‘The Isle of Dogs’ directed by Wes Anderson. It will be the first animated film to ever open the festival in its 68 years. A dystopian film about dogs trapped on a Japanese island, The Isle of Dogs also has political undertones. This seems fitting as Berlinale is the most politically imbued of all the film festivals.
Since 2001 the director of Berlinale, Mr. Kosslick, has featured an expansive range of international films chosen by him to be reflected of world cinema. This has courted controversy recently with calls for him to be replaced by a gender-balanced selection board.
This year the gender debate has come to head at Berlinale with the famous Anna Brüggemann calling for her fellow actors to ditch the traditional evening gown and high heels in favour of clothing which they feel comfortable in. The movement initiated by her known as #NobodysDoll has highlighted the way women are still treated within the film industry. At Cannes, the rule that women must wear high heels to the event has existed since its inception. Bruggemann has chosen the Berlinale festival to highlight the gender bias which is still rife in the industry.
24 films will be shown during the festival with 18 up for winning the Golden Bear this year. Among the pictures nominated are four from Germany. “Transit” by Christian Petzold about an writer during the Nazi era; a family drama “My Brother is named Robert and is an Idiot” by Philip Grönig; “3 Days in Quiberon” directed by Emily Atef on the life of actress Romy Schneider and the relationship drama “In the Corridors” (“In den Gängen”) by Thomas Stuber.
Berlinale 2018 will be reflective of the world as it is today but who will win overall is yet to be decided.