I have just returned from a ten day visit to the Berlin Film Festival also known as Berlinale. The experience that I had there was wonderful, having never been to a film festival before, I didn’t know what to expect, only that it would include lots of independent and some main stream films.
The way that Berlinale works is as a student I got a delegate pass, then each day I had to Que for tickets to the films, that were being shown all over the city. The queuing started very early, some people would get there at 4am while we always aimed for 7am (early enough!) after we had got most of our tickets, you would then go and see the films for the tickets you had lined up yesterday for.
The first film I saw there was Final Portrait, Directed by Stanley Tuccio and after that we watched Wild Mouse, Directed by Josef Hader. I really enjoyed these films, (there will be a review on each of them when I get time!) They were both screened in a theatre called Friedrichstadt-palast, which was this wonderful art deco building, with a massive seating capacity. Over the course of the week I saw loads of good films, some ‘interesting’ ones and some that were just plain painful to watch *cough the dinner*.
What I really liked about Berlinale was the different mix of films and events there was. There were opportunity’s to watch the premieres at the Berlin Palast (the main cinema) and access to parts of the carpet. It felt like a festival that for everyone attending, you were part of it. I can’t compare it to other festivals because this was my first, but I can still understand the effect it has as a film student to attend events like Berlinale.
As for Berlin as a city, its just amazing.The city is electric, its one of the most vibrant places I’ve been. For a film buff, I would really recommend the Berlin film museum. We got into it for free due to our passes, but I would have paid. It’s located in the Sony centre, which is right next to where the festival is held. Anyhow the museum is massive, there are three floors of German cinematic history, to their current exhibition ‘Sci fi’. Anyone that knows me, will know that I am obsessed with Metropolis (1927) which I know is a weird thing for a teenager to be obsessed with but hey ho there’s worse thing. The museum is FULL of things from it, Maria’s robot being the big one, along with an original Oscar statue and a focus on Weimar cinema. It was really very good, a place anyone with a love for film must go. Other places in the city to visit would be the Brandenburg gate (in the day and at night) the German parliament, The Reichstag’s dome (which you can book a free trip up) and the Holocaust memorial (Haunting but important). I didn’t want to just go to the festival, I wanted to explore the city and I really did, seeing most of the tourist spots.
Other places to go in between films are:
- The Zoo (not even kidding this place was amazing, it had a goat petting area)
- Topographies des terrors (the old Gestapo and SS Nazi offices, now a museum, worth a visit as its just down the road from Potsdammer Platz where the festival is, and it’s free to enter)
- Checkpoint Charlie (the crossing point between east and west Berlin during the time of the wall)
- The wall (located all over the city in parts, the art on it is very interesting to read)
- Tempelhof Airport (strange one but hear me out, its abandoned and has been turned into a park, so you can walk down the runway! pretty cool eh?)
- we also got the train down from Berlin to Potsdam, and visited ‘The New Palace’ and ‘Sanssouci’ dubbed the Versailles of Germany. Perfect for any History nerd (like me..)
If you do end up going to Berlinale I hope this all helps! Its a wonderful place and the city is so fun, do try to see some stuff around it, there’s sometimes a lot of waiting around when you don’t get the films you wanted.