Berlin – Day 4

Today was the most relaxed day to date.  Coming off of such a high yesterday, I was content to take it a little easier, a little slower.  One thing I’ve learned at a festival is that you really have to pace yourself.

First on my lineup was my second screening at the Cubix theatre in Alexanderplatz.  A much smaller space than the Zoo Palast (and let’s face it, by comparison to the Zoo Palast, everything is tiny) the intimacy of the room lent itself very well to the Q&A session.  Rather than a straightforward question/answer back and forth, what developed was more of a dialogue.  As is often the case, I was asked about the inspiration for the film, whereupon I talked a little about the ways in which my older brother would torment me as a child. This encouraged the kids to share their own unique experiences, each raising their hand to explain the specific dynamics within their respective households.  Sometimes this was an older sibling doing the tormenting, and sometimes a younger one.  Either way, I felt a great sense of having provoked the audience to think about their own life.  Not bad for less than 3 minutes of screen time.

After the screening I headed over to Potsdamerplatz for lunch.  If you haven’t been to Berlin, the entire Potsdamerplatz area has been built up into a massive collection of impressive glass and steel structures.  It’s is the central hub of both the festival and the European Film Market, all clustered in this relatively small but well developed area.

One of the day’s highlights was the discovery that the Sony Centre, which is directly across from the Berlinale main offices in Potsdamerplatz, provides free wireless connection.  I am somewhat surprised to see a dearth of wi-fi in the city.  With all the massive development in Berlin, I had expected the technological side to be on par with the architectural.  Being able to hunker down and check my email in the middle of the day was a bonus.

Next up, I went back to Alexanderplatz, or more specifically a little north of it, for a screening of a film at the Babylon Theatre.  The film was very touching Danish film called “Worlds Apart”, that tells the story of a young Jehovah’s Witness girl struggling with her faith.  I had no idea there were Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark, but apparently the community is very strong.  As with everything I have seen in Berlin, I’m struck by how unique the different perspectives are, how individual the directors’ voices.

Following the film, I had to grab my bags from the hotel and meet up with a friend at whose house I am now staying (So long, Motel One and all your ultra modern, minimalist trappings.)  I’ve noticed that my bags have gotten progressively heavier over the last few days.  I had anticipated ridding myself of my various press material, but hadn’t taken into account all the junk you accumulate.  Be it programs, flyers, postcards, or simply copies of fellow filmmakers’ work, you wind up lugging around about three tons of crap (I should clarify that I don’t consider any of the DVDs crap.  They are, in fact, a treasure).  Oh the minutiae of the festival experience.

A quick aside on transportation in Berlin.  My first day here I purchased a travel card for the entire week.  It’s barely a little slip of paper, but it allows me to make limitless trips on all modes of transportation.  There are no turnstiles at the stations, and you simply walk right on to the train.  This means that all travel is on an honor system.  Feeling very much the adult, I did cough up the 25 Euros for the travel card at the beginning of the week, figuring that I’m too old to be cheating the system (and when I was last in Berlin in 1993 I admit to doing just that). I did ask someone today if anybody ever checks.  Apparently it is indeed a rarity, but I’m happy to say that on the train back to Potsdamerplatz from my new abode, I got stopped by the authorities and asked to produce a valid ticket.  As I’m writing this, I realize that this story is very boring.  I had a ticket and didn’t get into trouble.  So why recount the story?  Because at any other time in my life, the story wouldn’t end so happily and I would have found myself making up some lame excuse to get me out of paying a fine.  Ok, ok, it’s a boring story.  Moving on.

The rest of the evening was spent at the Generation lounge, which was fairly hopping tonight.  I’ve reached that point in the festival where I’ve befriended a lot of people and have lost that initial sense of displacement and anxiety.  I feel very at home here, and I’m looking forward to spending the next few days simply seeing a lot more films.    After all, it is a film festival.  You’d be surprised how hard it can be to actually get to see anything, and if I look at the catalogue too long I get depressed.  Seeing all the amazing films that I’m not going to see is a bit much, but again, I’ve learned to go with the flow.  The films are going to be good no matter what I see.  That said, tomorrow I am eager to see “City of Men”, which is the follow up film to 2002’s “City of God”.  It promises to be very good.

Off to bed now.  As usual, I’m up extremely late, and I have a busy day tomorrow.

Gute Nacht!

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