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Berlinale Bloggers 2018
Nastaran – Die First Lady des CinemaxX

Nastaran
© Ahmed Shawky

If you are one of the regular visitors to the Berlinale, then you certainly know the lady in the photo. Her name is Nastaran. Journalists call her the First Lady of the CinemaxX.

By Ahmed Shawky

Nastaran is in charge of Cinema Hall 7, the largest movie theatre at CinemaxX. It shows some of the festival’s most important films, both from the competition and from the Panorama section. Before each performance, the indefatigable manager asks, in a now famous request, for all those sitting next to an empty seat to raise their hands so that the capacity of the hall can be fully exploited. Sometimes a few guests, who want to hold a seat for friends still on the way, protest.

I met Nastaran after one of the screenings in Room 7 for a short talk about her work.

I've been seeing you here for five years, but I think you've been here even longer. When did you start at the Berlinale and what is your professional background?

This is my eighth year at the Berlinale. During the ten days of the festival, I work mainly for the Panorama. My full-time job is as a social worker.

Why did you want to work at the Berlinale?

I’ve always loved movies: I did professional training as a projectionist for old 35 and 16-millimeter films, organized open air screenings, and directed a movie theatre for fifteen years. During all this time I specialized in artistic films; in my first job, for example, I showed silent films. Hence my desire to become part of the Berlinale.

The Panorama management asked me if I would like to run one of the main screening rooms and I said “yes”. I’m responsible for the screenings in the Panorama section and for some press screenings that are part of the international competition. They knew I was very experienced in managing movie theaters, but I didn’t expect the work to be so stressful.

What are the problems? For example, that some people hold seats for friends?

(Laughs) Of course. And I can’t stand that. This is a festival with a huge audience. I always try to help people be friendlier to each other. They shouldn’t enter into to competition with each other where there’s no competition. In the theatre there are no reserved seats for certain people, only free seats for those who arrive punctually to watch the movie.

What challenge do you face every year?

The tight schedule. The film crew comes to the screening and afterwards always wants to discuss the film with the audience. But many people are already standing outside waiting for the next movie, so we have to break off the discussion. Still, usually everything goes well.

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