To Berlinale, my first film festival for a while, and I was reminded of the multiple layers of an event like this.
Tilda Swinton and Joel Coen were on my plane over, traveling to provide red carpet glamour at the opening premiere; beyond the glitz to an entirely separate strata, the Film Market where hundreds of films – some made, some just ideas – hopefully seek finance and distribution; and then to the dreams of the filmmakers and producers attending, some experienced, but many more less so, looking for that crucial break. This was reinforced when I bumped into an old friend at the airport on the way back, heading for the BAFTA’s (he won) and then to the Oscars – hard work and a run of great docs allowing him to shift layers.
Interestingly much of the Market was organised as country pavilions, a reinforcement that there is a generally understood policy layer which values the “soft cultural” impact of films and which adds public stimulus in the shape of tax reliefs and/or support investment. The German market saw the release of 226 German films last year, which took advantage of access to 16 federal and regional film funds to the extent that on average 40% of budget was public finance (prior to any additional EU co-pro relationships which could also bring in other “local” incentive).
In Berlin history feels remarkably close to the surface and so in a gap I investigated another layer.
On my office wall is a large grey piece of concrete, picked up at Eberswalde Strasse on the night 8/9th November 1989 by a BBC cameraman and given to my Dad. This was the site of one of the first breaches of the Berlin Wall as it fell.
A short ride on the U2 from my hotel, the brick lines below show the route of the Wall. But the mundanity of the scene at Eberswalde Strasse today belies world-changing events still less than 30 years ago.