Category Archives: Film Festivals

Berlinale Talent Campus 2009 – Part 4

As the week progressed so too did the bags under everybody’s eyes get progressively heavier.  The Talent Campus concluded on the Thursday with a closing ceremony (complete with confetti) and a party to put every other one to shame, held in the Berlinale Palast, the premiere screening venue of the festival.

As I stepped into the building and looked out at the vast expanse of dancing people, live band, buffet dinner, and open bar, I truly wondered if I had it in me for another party.  About five minutes later, reaching for a beer, I knew I did.  Cut to 4am and it was a terrific end to a terrific week.

The greatest thing of all, though, was the fact that I still had two days in Berlin to do something other than take in the festival.  On my last day in Berlin I got to enjoy simply walking around the city with a German friend, exploring hidden nooks and crannies and seeing a side of the city vastly different from the insanity of the Berlinale.  Of particular interest was the art center “Tacheles”, housed in the ruins of an old factory building at the heart of the old Jewish quarter.  The word “Tacheles” is a Yiddish word (used in Hebrew too) which means to speak clearly and to the point.  And with graffiti from head to toe, a warren of individual artist studios, a café, and even a garden, there was no beating around the bush here.  Wandering around this space, with is hardcore attitude to art, it seemed an appropriately down to earth end to a wild and wonderful week.

And that was it.  Time was up.  So after winding down the evening in the Wombats bar, I headed to bed and to grab a couple of hours of sleep before the long trip home.

The following day I was supposed to fly from Berlin to Amsterdam, then continue on directly to LA.  My flight out of Berlin was delayed after someone on the plane was overcome with a fear of flying and demanded to be let off.  The crew agreed, but then not only had to remove the offending passengers luggage, but ask all passengers to disembark while they searched the plane.  To cut a long story short, I was two hours late in arriving in Amsterdam, missing my connection and having to be diverted.  Which is why I’m now on a plane to Minneapolis.

I’ve never been to Minneapolis.  Isn’t that where people talk funny?


I am home.

I long for sleep.

I can write no more.

Guten Nacht.

Berlinale Talent Campus 2009 – Part 3

Given the international aspect of the festival, it is hardly surprising that different countries have parties to celebrate and acknowledge the filmmakers of each nation.  Thus, the Romanians have a party, as do the British, the Serbians, and of course the Israelis.  The Israeli affair, incidentally, was a very classy one, help on the upstairs floor of a swanky restaurant in the Sony Center (Potsdamer Platz’s answer to the Millennium dome, but a little more practical).  One might assume the American’s would follow suit, right?  Think again.

When I first arrived in Berlin and picked up my accreditation, I received an invitation to a private reception at the American Embassy.  I have been to embassy affairs before and they are always very sophisticated, so it seemed appropriate that the US Embassy, recently moved into spanking new headquarters near the Brandenburg Gate, should serve up an evening to remember.

A private bus arrived at the HAU 1 (the Hebbel Am Ufer Theatre, and one of the locations for the Talent Campus events) and picked up about 6 American “talents”, including myself.  Expectations were high as we disembarked outside the famous Adlon hotel and were then escorted the final block to the embassy.

Arriving at the austere fortress, we were then subject to x-rays, metal detectors and the like, then escorted into a drab little room set up for some sort of news conference.  For the next two hours we became the captive audience of the Chargé d’Affaires and the Cultural Attaché, who proceeded to pontificate, on camera, about their experiences living in Berlin during the Cold War.  What exactly did this have to do with the Berlinale?

I don’t know if you have ever encountered Foreign Service people, but they are a strange bunch indeed.   Alienated from their homeland by having lived abroad for so long, they are also completely out of touch with the local scene, living as they do in the embassy.  What you wind up with is someone who speaks and acts like something out of a US propaganda video.  And that was precisely what we were asked, nay forced, to participate in.

To add insult to injury, the “reception” was merely a table consisting of some Coke, coffee, peanut butter Oreo cookies and, I kid you not, Ho-Hos.  Ho-Hos are a cakey chocolate thing along the lines of a Twinkie and equally as “all-American”.

So where was the booze, the acknowledgement, the celebration of our filmmaking prowess and talent?  I had to head over to the British party later than night for some of that.