The Berlin Film Festival.The Berlin International Film Festival – usually shortened to Berlinale – is one of the largest film festivals in the world, with around half a million bums on seats watching up to 400 films. Like many other festivals, there is an associated marketplace – the European Film Market – and, more unusually, there is an associated programme of lectures and lessons for filmmakers just starting out in their careers – Berlinale Talent. Currently sponsored by Canon, it’s massively over-subscribed, with the 300 or so attendees being selected from over 1500 applicants.
The chosen few have a pretty intensive week. There are thirty five “Summit” sessions – where high-profile filmmakers present and discuss their work in venues of varying sizes, from the main theatre (HAU 1) to more intimate ‘atelier’ sessions with only twenty or thirty attendees. Although these summit sessions are intended for the Talents, it is possible for the general public to buy any spare tickets – an amazing opportunity to hear from horses mouths that have, in the past, included Juliette Binoche, Ridley Scott, Wim Wenders and Keanu Reeves, to name but an eclectic few. This year’s speakers included DoP Christopher Doyle (Hero, In the Mood for Love), Producer Martha De Laurentiis (Hannibal) and Screenwriter Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).
Of the 300 Talent attendees, three groups of ten are chosen to participate in one each of documentary, script and short film project labs – intended to strengthen existing projects with the assistance of the tutors. There is an additional Studio programme, where a further selected few can work with industry professionals to hone their skills in post-production workflows, editing, sound, production design, distribution and acting. It’s tempting to call these sessions ‘workshops’ but I’m with Alexei Sayle on this one – “Anyone who uses the word workshop outside of light engineering is a tw…”
To my mind, though, one of the most important benefits of the Berlinale Talents programme is breakfast. The Talent attendees have one main meeting space where they can consume Berlin’s (justifiably famous) deep fried bread products, and mingle and meet with other young filmmakers from around the world. There must be dozens of alliances forged here – where directors meet editors, or producers meet scriptwriters and so on. From what I saw, there was a few other alliances being forged too – but young people will be young people…