This year I expected Dieter Kosslick’s Berlinale to be one of glory, crowned with glamorous stars elegantly floating down the Red Carpet and a fireworks bouquet finalé. But this was not to be: this year was a consistent competition selection of films that neither surprised nor were truly memorable.
From February 7 to 17, the Berlin International 69th Film Festival had sales topping 335,000 tickets. This year was the women’s year, with Juliette Binoche as head of the jury in the Competition Section, and Charlotte Rampling receiving an Honorary Golden Bear for her all contributions. Berlinale Cameras were awarded to Director Agnes Varda, Producer Sandra Schulber, Director Hermann Zschoche, and the Panorama Section head, Wieland Speck.
After 19 years at the helm, Dieter Kosslick doffed his ‘trademark’ hat and scarf, passing them on to two successors: Locarno Artistic Director, Carlo Chatrian; and Managing Director of German Films, Mariette Rissenbeck. Interesting will be to see if they can keep the frenetic pace that Kosslick established: he created new sections such as the Culinary Cinema, The Berlinale Special, The Prospective Deutsches Kino, and one of my personal favorites, the NatiVe section. His innovations didn’t stop there: he created the Berlin Talents whereby this year alone participation was 250 students from 77 countries. He also promoted the World Cinema Fund, The Berlinale Co-Production Market, and the European Film Market. He also looked at created a new target group, the Berlinale Series section. Even the small cinemas were not forgotten, with the creation of the Berlinale Goes Kiez. Not to forget us journalists! Kosslick created a platform for 22,000 accredited journalists from 135 countries to ‘do their thing’: where they can watch movies, have interviews, network, and even have areas where we journalists can write. If needing a break, many little coffee spots are set up here and there to fill their needs.
At the end of the day Dieter Kosslick can say with pride, “I’ve sold 5 million tickets, 7000 films have been reviewed, and I’ve handed out 164 bears.” Aware of all of this, I am particularly looking forward to seeing what is in store for us for next year’s 70th Berlinale. One thing is for sure, I’m always learning something and am forever grateful for these festivals – no matter what the future brings!