Berlin – Day 1

I am sitting in my compact yet ultra modern hotel room, freshly showered to the relief of all, and about to take a nap.  Hanging on the wall in front of me is a flat screen TV displaying a gently crackling fire and I can think of nowhere I’d rather be.  Welcome to Berlin.

Following a 2-day travel haul that was less grueling than might be anticipated, I finally touched down in the German capital.  I was met at the airport by a representative of the festival who presented me with the requisite credentials then shepherded me into a lavish chauffeured car that whisked me off into the city.    After stopping briefly at my hotel to drop off my bags, I returned to the car, noticing that the crowd of people were looking my way and murmuring to one another.  “They think I’m famous,” I told the driver.  He responded with a simple, “You are.”

Cut to:

I’m back at the hotel at the conclusion of my first day.  After waking up from my much needed nap (and I’m a big fan of naps), I headed over to the Potsdamer Platz to grab a bite to eat before showing up at the Generation Lounge, located on the 4th floor of the Filmhaus, directly across from the main Berlinale office.  I have to say that everybody associated with the festival is unbelievably gracious and welcoming.  Imagine walking into a place where you are made to feel utterly, instantly, and totally at home.  That’s what it feels like to be invited to the Berlinale.  I am used to doing everything myself, and to have my hosts constantly ask me if I need anything is flattering, if somewhat uncomfortable.  After all, as an independent filmmaker, I’m more accustomed to being given the cold shoulder.

I have to backtrack a moment.

After dropping off my bags, I got back in the plush, chauffeur-driven, fancy-schmancy car and headed over to the Berlinale headquarters, located directly on Potsdamer Platz in a building not dissimilar to the Flat Iron building in New York, yet made entirely of glass and steel.  The Generation office is cozy and welcoming, an array of posters adorning the walls.  It was a delight to see the poster for “A Little Night Fright” alongside all the other fantastic films (by directors I admire) that are showing at the festival.

Still dazed and definitely confused due to my transatlantic jaunt, I was instantly introduced to fellow filmmakers, and I found myself settling in comfortably to festival mode.  Before I knew it, I was whisked off to the Zoo Palast cinema, located in West Berlin, for the premiere of “Hey Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger”, a charming and delightful coming of age Australian film.  Walking into the Zoo Palast, which is where “A Little Night Fright” is to premiere on Tuesday, was jaw dropping.  The theatre is massive, with a screen to match, and an exuberant crowd that underscores how devoted Berliners seem to be about the festival.  I can only hope for such a response to my film.

Back to the present.

I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel, thinking about the rest of the day.  After the film, I wound up back at the hotel for a much-needed nap, then headed back out to the Generation Lounge to drink, chat, and relax.  Much was done of all the above, and suffice to say that this first day has proved to be a most excellent and pleasurable experience.

But for now, I really need some more sleep.  My jet lag is criminal, and I have a 9am screening of “War Child”.  I met the Sudanese contingent representing the film at the Generation lounge, and as I always say, if I meet the filmmakers of a film, I most definitely need to see their work.  This just means less sleep for me, but I’m not here to sleep.

They’re not kidding when they rate this festival as one of the best in the world.  And that’s after only one day.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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