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Berlinale Bloggers 2019
On embargoes and mistaken identity

"The Kindness of Strangers"
"The Kindness of Strangers" | Photo (Detail): © Per Arnesen

Berlinale blogger Gerasimos Bekas has a problem. He’s not allowed to say a word yet about the world premieres. Plus he got caught up in a case of mistaken identity – and thwarted expectations.

The first films have been screened, but I'm not allowed to say a word about them yet. The embargo rule on world premieres provides that reviews may not be published until half an hour after the start of their first public screening. So what do I do in the meantime? I head out to sleuth out the Big Question on everyone’s mind at the Berlinale.

Business or wellness?

What are the Berlinale parties like? Do they feel like you’re at Pablo Escobar’s villa – or Berlusconi’s? Do people mill about the whole time with their business cards trying to snatch up the next role or clinch the next deal?

There are two kinds of people at the Berlinale. Some are dying to go to the parties but aren’t invited. The others are invited but don’t go. Which makes my investigation harder than I’d expected. Though I do learn how to spot young German directors at the parties: they wear baseball caps, scarves and oversized spectacles and use the word “amazing” in conversations way too often and way too loudly. 

Rusty French

My conversation with my German informant – who’s been working as a Berlinale hostess for years and doesn’t want to blow her cover – is interrupted just as she’s about to give me the inside dope and divulge the most shocking Berlinale secrets, when a French woman, slightly taller and fitter than yours truly, grabs my shoulder, spins me round to face her and, all in a tizzy, asks whether I am Tahar Rahim. I try to counter with my own question, namely whether she is, by any chance, Juliette Binoche, but my French is probably too rusty or the lady is just too disappointed that she hasn’t met the star of The Kindness of Strangers after all. I can understand that. I'd have preferred Binoche too. But the Berlinale is reasonably young. I'll go get a cup of coffee for now.