When does the letter of accreditation arrive? Who likes what kinds of films? What was the story about the European Shooting Stars again? As early as three weeks before the official opening of the Berlinale on February 6, Cafébabel's Berlin editorial department had turned into a hive of bustling activity. Still, with over 400 films in ten sections, this year's 64th Berlin International Film Festival offered rather a lot to discover. Nevertheless, only one editorial meeting was needed in the run-up to the event as well as two on site – the rest was handled via Facebook, Dropbox, Skype and e-mail.
DO 5804 MINUTES OF FILM AMOUNT TO 58 FILMS?
Our individual fortes quickly became apparent: Christina is keen on Latin America, Daniel likes to discuss socio-political matters, Lilian is besotted with Asia and Sébastien follows the cinematic developments taking place in his native country. As photographer, Jean-Paul largely had free rein – the only must, of course, being a snapshot of George Clooney. We watched 58 out of a total of over 400 films included in the Berlinale's overall programme at nine venues across the city. At around 5804 minutes of film, the psychedelic Berlinale jingle rapidly gets into one's head and coffee becomes the drink of choice. While Daniel and Sébastien abstained from drinking any coffee at all and Jean-Paul consumed a relatively small amount, Christina and Lilian drank enough coffee for all of us – after drinking what felt like 342 litres, we stopped keeping count.
The addictive jingle of the Berlinale 2014 ––– video by BerlinMitteBoy1307.
The Berlinale has always been an international affair, but this year it broke all the records. Of the 58 films watched by the Berlin team, the majority were set not in Germany but in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, England, the USA, France, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, South Sudan, Somalia, Argentina, Mexico, Israel, Denmark, Brazil, Russia and the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. The cinema screen took the Cafébabel editors on a journey through 23 foreign countries and helped them to become better acquainted not only with blind Chinese masseurs, purple-clad lobby boys and Somali pirates but also with Brazilian lifeguards and Michel Houellebecq.
A BABELIAN JUMBLE OF LANGUAGES PLUS PRIVATE JOKES
Fortunately, the Berlin editorial team is fluent in a number of languages. For the remaining ones, we had recourse to subtitles since the original languages of this year's films included not only French, Spanish, German and English but also Vietnamese, Arabic, Swedish, Somali, Chechen, Cantonese and Burmese, among others. No sooner had the four editors left their cinema seats than they set about typing up their reviews, impressions and interviews or arranging Jean-Paul's snapshots into informative picture galleries. The aim was to produce one article per day, a feat which was achieved three times over with a total of more than 30 texts in German, English and French. Yet what sounds like taxing intellectual work was, for the most part, unbelievably exciting and sometimes even downright funny, such as the time when Sébastien was mistaken for a waiter at the European Shooting Stars buffet.
Then there was the time when Lilian, at the press screening of 20,000 Days on Earth (2013), sat next to Anke Engelke, who spoke to her on first-name terms as a matter of course. For his part, Jean-Paul could only laugh as the George Clooney fans had their idol autograph all kinds of objects on the red carpet – including a long cardboard box of unknown contents. Sébastien saw the funny side once again when the young German actress Maria Dragus told him in a firm but friendly manner that she wanted to do the interview in French, insisting "en français s'il vous plaît!" Then, on February 16, the last day of the Berlinale, the film marathon was over again. The Bears had been awarded and the Berlin editorial team shared in the delight of the winners, Diao Yinan and Wes Anderson. We took in the Berlinale jingle one last time and simply looked forward to watching a good film. After all, there are hundreds of them at the Berlinale. Join us again next year!
CAFÉBABEL BERLIN AT THE 64TH BERLINALE
We love films! You can find our daily updates right here in the magazine or via Berlin.Babel.Blog and @CafebabelBerlin. Get ready for exciting film reviews, interviews with yet-to-be-discovered stars and snapshots from the festival grounds.