Berlin – Day 7

I slept in.

Not enough to be late for my last screening, but enough to put me on edge and make it all the clearer that at some point in the near future I am going to have to get a proper night’s sleep.

Rather than battle the public transportation, I splurged for a taxi that dropped me and Amanda (the friend I’m staying with) off at the Zoo Palast.  I have no idea if the taxi ride was expensive of not, as I’m treating the Euros as play money.  This may be a bad idea, given the plummeting dollar, but I don’t care.  I’ve actually spent relatively little money here, between cheap lunches and a free bar at the lounge and any other official Berlinale party.

Once again, I was delighted to find that our final screening, back in the 1000-seater, was virtually full.  It is fantastic that so many kids are coming to the festival.  And given the sophistication of the lineup I get a real sense that the festival is educating its audience.  It’s no wonder they have renamed the Kinderfilmfest as Generation, for the festival is impacting an entire generation of young people in a very profound way.

I decided to sit through the entire lineup, and was happy to watch the films for a second time around.  It afforded me the opportunity to look at them a little closer, a little more critically, and without the element of surprise that accompanied the first time around.  Having now had 3 other screenings, my neuroses about the film playing had all but evaporated.

During my film, I mostly studied the faces of two children sitting in the row behind me, although I did glance back at the screen more than I normally do.  I don’t know when I’ll get to see my film projected at such a size again, so I wanted to ensure I remember how that looks.

The screening was followed by a Q&A.  The questions are always variations on a theme, with things like:

What inspired you to make this film?

What does the monster look like?

Is it real?

Actually, I’ve gotten a lot of “Is it real?” posed in different ways.  From a developmental standpoint I wonder if this age group is still learning to distinguish fantasy from reality.

After the Q&A it was back down to the lobby to sign autographs for the kids.  I can’t quite get over being bombarded by all the kids thrusting programs and tickets in my face for me to sign.  I could easily just scribble anything, as it’s not what I’m writing that’s important.  It’s being able to claim a little piece of someone that is deemed significant.  Why should that be so important?  Why is the movie not enough?

After lunch with Amanda and some friends, I went back to the Zoo Palast for the K+ Awards ceremony.  No, I didn’t win anything, and pretty much knew that going in.  On the other hand, I honestly feel that I did in fact win.  Being at the festival is akin to Charlie being awarded a golden ticket, which enables you very simply to turn to the person next to you and say, “Hello, what film are you with?”

The awards ceremony was as charming as the one for 14+, albeit to a much larger audience.  The evening started with a  spot light swishing back and forth across the audience to the Berlinale music.  It’s this music that accompanies the opening “Thank you to our sponsors”/Berlinale logo that precedes each screening.  I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this, but the Berlinale trailer (I’m not sure what it’s actually called) has this moment in it where this golden ball recedes into the distance then explodes in a burst of fireworks.  The individual points of light at one point come together to form the Berlinale Bear, then disperse.  Each and every time I see that bear in this “fireworks” display I get a huge lump in my throat.  I am at the Berlinale!

I was extremely happy with the winning films, especially the shorts.  The Australian film, “Nana” won the top prize, and “New Boy”, from my section, received an honorary mention. Both films are exceptional and very deserving.  Not that I wouldn’t have liked to win something too, it’s only natural.  But again, being one of a very select few to screen is a massive reward, irrespective of an official “prize”.

The feature that took top prize was the Iranian film, “Buda Collapsed out of Shame”  And what a film too.  A simple story of a little Afghani girl trying to go to school, the film follows as this character falls prey to a group of little boys, reenacting a series of increasingly more disturbing violent situations.  From kidnapping to stoning to playing with “guns”, the film packs a walloping punch.  This is not a film to miss.

Following the awards, all the filmmakers were invited to the private home of Thomas Hailer, Generation’s director.  Somewhat more subdued than all the other parties, it was the perfect way to wind down from a week that has been, in my opinion, simply sublime.  My only frustration is that I couldn’t find a way to express this to the Generation team.  Every time I would be talking to either Thomas or Maryanne, trying to convey how I felt, I would find myself tongue-tied like a blabbering idiot.  I like to consider myself pretty articulate, but not in this case.  All I seem to keep saying was thank you, thank you, thank you.

As I have mentioned before, being here is a purely emotional experience.  Yes, there’s all the business that surrounds it but at its core the Berlinale digs right into the heart.

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