Dragging myself out of bed, I could feel the partying of the last few nights taking its toll. No matter, as I am determined to suck every last ounce of fun out of this week.
I’m staying on the northern edge of Mitte, near the Nordbanhoff station. Technically, I should just say Nordbanhoff and leave it at that. By adding the extra “station” I’m making the term translate as “Northern station station”.
The morning consisted of two back-to-back Generation shorts programs. There is a subdivision within the Generation section between K+ and 14+ (my film is in K+), and today’s movies were all 14+ at Babylon. Sitting through the screening, I was mightily impressed by the 14+ lineup, although it became clear to me that most of these films would never screen to such an audience in the US. They would be deemed inappropriate for minors, given that they deal openly with big no-no’s as sex, sexuality, other sex-related issues, and a little more sex thrown in for good measure. Truth is, this is exactly what kids of this age group and going through so why not address the issues directly?
After the screening I was invited to lunch at the house of some newly acquired friends. Having gotten out of my second screening later than expected, it was a mad dash to the U-bahn. With another screening of my film at 3:30 in Alexanderplatz, the plan was to have lunch, then head over to the Cubix Cinema. All said and done, I had barely half an hour to wolf down some food and head back out. I would have much rather just stayed where I was, sit on the balcony with some coffee, and watch the clouds go by but that was not to be. On our journey back to Alexanderplatz, however, we took a detour alongside a canal, and I was grateful for the refreshingly different environment. Replete with swans, boathouses and some tree that looks like a weeping willow, I could romantically envision a life in Berlin at a much slower pace than that of this week.
Back at the Cubix, I was surprised to learn that our screening was sold out. I had anticipated a drop off in attendance as the festival draws to an end, but that was most definitely not the case. There they were, lining up in droves to see my movie.
I didn’t sit through the entire lineup, but popped in to watch the audience watch my film. Sitting on the floor by the wall, I turned my back on the screen as soon as I saw the image and heard the sound, and instead watched a couple of children near me. Specifically, I was fascinated by a little boy who sat physically hunched forward, his hands held up like claws, frozen below his chin, and with eyes so wide that they were practically falling out of his head. And of course, at the requisite moment in the film he flew back in his chair in absolute delight. For me, this is sublime. Be it listening to the 1000-strong audience in Zoo Palast, or singling out one small boy at Cubix, both experiences make all the hard work utterly worthwhile.
After the screening a few of us grabbed a bite at a nearby restaurant. I am so very impressed with the rest of the films in my section, and the filmmakers behind them. We’ve become this little gang, a micro family much like happens on a film set. It is a pleasure to be in such good company.
Next up, it was back to the Babylon. I have seen virtually nothing of the city, but I know every detail of how to get from Alexanderplatz to the Babylon, the Babylon to the Zoo Palast, the Zoo Palast to Potsdamerplatz and every combination therein. I hear that there is a beautiful city beyond this semi-triangle but I have seen virtually none of it.
The evening was dedicated to the 14+ awards ceremony. The ceremony was conducted with a warmth and graciousness that defines the Generation team. The awards are determined by a jury of children, who were welcomed to the stage amidst much applause. I imagine that being chosen as a young judge for the Berlinale must be quite an honor, and the responsibility that goes with it a terrific life lesson. Wearing white Berlinale T-shirts with the work “Jury” stenciled across it they received bouquets of flowers before announcing the winners for both short and feature length films.
In a selfish way, I had hoped that the winning feature was one I hadn’t seen, only because it would give me the opportunity to see another film. This proved to be the case, with “The Black Balloon” taking top honors. A very sweet movie about an eccentric Australian family whose eldest son suffers from Autism, I’m starting to see a theme at this year’s festival. Hmmm.
The night brought everyone back to the lounge for the now familiar and relaxed chitchat, after which I also wound up at a movioke party. What’s movioke? Karaoke but with movies. And the best thing of all, everything is in German. There is nothing quite like seeing Dirty Dancing being totally butchered with a live German voice over whilst the participants also mimic the dance moves.
I stayed out too late as usual, had a little too much to drink as usual, wound up taking a taxi back to the apartment, and collapsed in a heap for a couple of hours. Only one day left.