If you have been wandering around the city the last few days you will surely have seen the posters for this year’s Berlin International Film Festival – the Berlinale. The famous Berlin/Berlinale bear is out in force once again roaming the city streets and this year a polar bear even makes an appearance on the official posters. All the cinemas have been polished and dusted, the opening night was doused in Champagne and flash bulbs as always and now we give you the best of how to go and what to see.
The Berlinale is a much anticipated event by industry professionals and locals alike. There is a myth that tickets are difficult to come by – with some careful planning and some insider tips from us, you’ll be sure to get a good mixture of what you want. You’ll also get some pleasant surprises if you’re willing to take a gamble on an unknown film.
Your first stop should be the Berlinale website as you can get most of the information you need there and much of it is available in English also – plus, there are no queues online. It’s a very comprehensive site that’s designed to accomodate industry professionals as well as the public, so it can be daunting trying to figure out what’s what. However if you navigate your way to the ‘My Account’ section and set yourself up with the programme planner, you will be up and running in no time, scheduling yourself a frenzy of movies and celeb spotting with ease.
The Berlinale is divided into a number of sections so you can find your entry into the programme through your favourite section. If you have an idea of the section that’s most interesting to you, that will help you dive into the programme. Food lovers will rejoice in the Culinary Cinema programme for example, but one of the great parts of the Berlinale is allowing yourself to be surprised, so don’t get too caught up on the sections!
To search for films, you can search by section, venue, country of origin of the film, date and time. You can also buy tickets online but a limited number are released and there is a €1.50 surcharge. Of course there is also the option of queuing for tickets at the main sales points. The best option – that also has a fun festival atmosphere – is inside the Arkaden Mall at Potsdamer Platz. Or you can stroll down Kurfürstendamm and try your luck at Audi City Berlin’s box office. More information about box office locations and opening times is available here. Note: usually only 2 tickets can be purchased at a time per film, except for screenings in culinary cinema which have no limit.
Here’s a hot insider tip for you – if you’re spontaneous at heart, head down to the Arkaden and loiter casually around the queue – Berlinale fever is a thing and people often buy up big in advance then try to sell off their tickets after realising they can’t go on certain dates. Just look for the people wandering along the side of the queue with tickets in their hand, asking everyone in line the same question.
The festival started a few days ago so there’s alot of buzz about what films to see. To get you started we have just a few suggestions.
Casting Jon Benet
The mystery around whatever happened to 6 year old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsay has baffled and intrigued Americans for more than 2 decades. This documentary gives insight into the various versions of truth that can exist in cases such as this as members of her community all come together to offer their version of events. Dramatisation of actual events, mixed with these complex and diverse interviews makes for fascinating viewing.
This one seemed to have slipped under the hype radar but we love a home grown film and though it’s directed by Australian Cate Shortland, it’s filmed in our city so we’ll claim it too! When visiting Berlin you certainly don’t expect to be kidnapped, but this is the fate that befalls Australian backpacker Clare as she innocently strolls the city shooting the GDR style architecture. A one night stand is devoid of the usual morning escape when Clare finds herself locked in the apartment she spent the night in. The film follows the tense weeks that follow as she tries to escape the Friedrichshain apartment.
Call Me By Your Name
Director Luca Guadagnino follows up last year’s sun drenched, tension-on-an-Italian-Island drama ‘A Bigger Splash’, with yet another sun drenched Italian drama ‘Call Me by Your Name’. It’s 1983 and Elio is spending the summer at his parent’s country house. Enjoying the solitude of reading, listening to music and swimming, the 17 year old’s bliss is quickly disturbed by the arrival of Oliver and the summer soon turns into one neither of them will forget.
Choose Films. Choose Nostalgia. Choose Music. Choose Trainspotting. Fans of Danny Boyle’s 1997 cult classic can finally have their questions answered. After 20 years we at last learn the fate of those four frightening but affable souls as Renton returns to Edinburgh, still on a quest to find the meaning of life. The four are quickly reunited and the expected chaos ensues. The soundtrack to the first film was a massive success and T2’s score also does not disappoint.
The three venues closest to the hotel are the elegant and atmospheric Zoo Palast which is just 500 metres away (near Zoologischer Station,) Delphi Filmpalast (Kantstrasse) and Haus der Berliner Festspiele also just a short walk away (Schaperstraße). Much of the Berlinale activity is centred around Potsdamer Platz also only a short train or taxi ride away. Ask the concierge for directions and see the venues list for all the details. Note: all foreign films have English subtitles. You can also see here for even more tips and tricks on how to access the festival.