Selected Film-Festivals and Awards in Germany

“Festiwelt Berlin” – The Berlinale Is Not The Only Film Festival In Berlin

Logo; © Festiwelt-BerlinLogo; © Festiwelt-BerlinAlongside the famous Berlinale, every year the German capital hosts about four dozen smaller film festivals that open up insights into what is going on in the field of cinematic art all over the world. To make sure that film buffs do not miss anything, there is now a network to help them get organised.

Berlin is a city of film fans. This is what representatives of the filmmaking industry see every February when they come for the International Film Festival – hordes of people besieging the cinemas where the festival films are being shown. None of the other major festivals, like Cannes or Venice, is such a crowd-puller, nowhere else is there such a scramble for the much sought-after tickets.

One might think this mania for movies would die a death after the ten strenuous days of the Berlinale – no way. The cinemas of course go on showing blockbusters or arthouse films, but it is not just the cinemas that continue drawing audiences in front of the screens – a lively festival scene has now been established in Berlin that shows all kinds of films. These films either shed light onto particular subjects and/or open up intense insights into what is going on in the field of cinematic art in various other countries.

Berlin - host to about 50 film festivals

Logo of the Baltic Film Festival; © Baltic Film Festival About 50 of these festivals, some small and some large, take place in Berlin throughout the year. All of them take the people attending them on exciting voyages of discovery. For example, “Britspotting” - an annual showcase of British and Irish filmmaking, the “Baltic Film Festival” featuring productions from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and “Cinebrasil” that devotes itself to Brazilian cinema. Further film series focus on French, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Jewish and Asian filmmaking. “Unknown Pleasures” centres on the experimental in independent American cinema, “Transmediale” on contemporary art and the digital culture, the “Festival des gescheiterten Films” (The Festival of the Doomed Film) shows films that did not make it to the cinemas and went unnoticed.

In 2010 the International Student Film Festival, so steeped in tradition and known as “Sehsüchte” – a play on the German words Sehnsüchte (yearnings) and Sehsucht (addiction to watching) – will be taking place for the 39th time. The intercultural and interdisciplinary film and video festival “Black International Cinema” will be gearing up this year for its 24th opening. Then there is “Achtung Berlin” that has been going for only six years and focuses on the local filmmaking scene in and around Berlin, yet despite the few years it has been in existence it has turned into one of Berlin’s biggest festivals.

A diary for film-fans at a glance

Poster of the Student Film Festival “Sehsüchte”; © Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen “Konrad Wolf”Coping with this abundance of film festivals in the city can be a daunting task for even the most dedicated of film fans. This is why Julien Lamy from the “Bureau du Cinéma” at the French embassy and Anna Leonenko, who has been in charge of the Russian Film Week Festival for years now, took the initiative and decided to impose a little order on the somewhat confusing array of Berlin film festivals. They brought a network into being, of which 20 festivals have already become members.

The themes and content of the festivals are to retain their independence, but when it comes to advertising, press and public relations or acquiring sponsors more cooperation is quite definitely of benefit. This applies in particular to the smaller festivals which as a rule have a smaller budget and whose organisation is above all dependent on the dedication of volunteers. In order to make going to a film series more attractive, there is now also talk of developing a kind of “Festival Pass” that would enable the people interested to get into the cinema at reduced cost.

Even if all the festivals still have not joined the network, film fans are already profiting from the initiative. After all it was Julien Lamy who posted a complete listing of all the Berlin film festivals – a festival diary, so to speak - on the internet pages of - the portal for French films in Germany. Next to the date, this year’s poster and a short description of the contents and aims of the various film series, there are also the addresses of the cinemas where the films are to be shown.

Furthermore the network offers a particularly special feature for all those people who are worried about missing the next festival – by subscribing to the “Festiwelt Alarm Service” they can be reminded by e-mail that the next festival will be starting in three days.

“The world is here – just watch it!”

Logo of the Festival “Contravision”; © Contravision“The world is here – just watch it!“ – this is the slogan of the “Festiwelt Berlin” inviting people to travel and explore the world without having to leave their city. Yes, indeed, in Berlin you only have to hop on your bike or the underground to get to the nearest cinema. Thanks to Julien Lamy and his festival diary the road to interesting places all over the world has become much shorter.

Sabine Pahlke-Grygier
works as a journalist and author. In 2008 her book “Kinohits für Kids – die schönsten Kinderfilme auf DVD” (All-time Movie Favourites for Kids – The Most Beautiful Children’s Films on DVD) was published by Henschel Verlag. This was followed in August 2009 by her book “Handbuch Synchronisation – von der Übersetzung bis zum fertigen Film” (The Dubbing Manual – From the Translation to the Finished Film)

Translation: Paul McCarthy
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
January 2010

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Related links

Berlinale Talent Press

German Film Festival New Zealand

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