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Star Gazing - Celebrities Met at the Berlinale
by Birgit Schrumpf

I met Jürgen Vogel, actor, producer, script writer, in conversation with actor colleagues near the reception area of the Grand Hyatt hotel who allowed me to take a snap-shot. Born in Hamburg, he is one of the most diverse (vielseitig) men in German movies. Whether he is playing in comedies or dramas, it is always a performance to remember. At present he is concentrating on his director’s debut with a film about East German hooligans. For his production Der freie Wille (The Free Will) in which he played the lead, Vogel received the Silver Bear trophy at the 2006 Berlinale.

Marius Müller-Westernhagen, German rock-star, song writer and performer with about 21 albums to his name, and his beautiful New York-born wife Romney Williams arrived at the hotel, on their way to an invitation at the private lounge.

Fatih Akin greeted me cheerfully with a wave of his hand while waiting at the elevator in the Hyatt Hotel. Surprised, but politely, I waved back. I probably looked familiar, sitting in the first row at a press conference just five meters opposite him and his film crew. He is co-producer of the German film Chiko. See review page.…

The Rolling Stones: watching Mick Jagger and his band at close quarters seems to be a real privilege as I had to stand my ground amongst pushing, shoving journalists to make it to the door of the press conference. With an energetic and youthful gait Mick Jagger stepped onto the stage with his band slouching behind him. Then, standing in line, light bulbs of photographers flashing, a bit of fooling around, sitting down in front of journalists, water bottles and microphones before them, reporters orderly holding up their hands to address questions. Mick Jagger obviously acted as the spokesman, answering in a very civilised, polite manner, only Ronny Woods (with hat) tries a bit of clowning around….

How was Madonna? Eager friends asked me about her press conference in Berlin. The worst chaos occurred when queuing for the press conference before the doors eventually opened. I couldn’t believe that grown-up, supposedly serious journalists were hectic, pushing, and behaving unreasonable aggressively.

After standing for more than half an hoir in front of the closed door, the two strong young men had a hard time to channel the impatient crowd. The control of our accreditation credentials as journalists was strict. No photographers were allowed, only one film camera crew had access. We even had to personally sign-in with our signature. This was just short of being x-rayed and body-searched like at the airport. But I was “in,” making a beeline for a seat on the right-hand corner, from where the actors entered. It only took minutes for the press room to fill with some journalists sitting on the floor before the doors were closed. I was told an angry 200 journalists were still in front of the door, having to make do with watching one of the big TV screens. Madonna and her crew were late, but I did not even notice as I was involved in a heated discussion about an Austrian film concerning eight Jewish women who live in America, called Vienna’s Lost Daughters. I was talking to an Austrian lady journalist to my left and a German TV filmmaker to my right. Behind me there was a heated discussion in Spanish and two Polish newspaper men in the next row greeted me excitedly. We kept bumping into each other at several films. There were applause and a few whistles as Madonna stalked in on her 10-cm high heels, elegantly dressed in a black dress, looking like the image of a school girl on a Sunday outing. She sweetly answered all questions about her film Filth and Wisdom and politely thanked the young journalist complementing her on her good looks.

Her actor/singer Eugene Hutz brought his guitar and, after a request, spontaneously sang a song for us. After Madonna left the stage he did not mind giving autographs and even posed for a photograph which I took for the young German journalist with his “handy.” The security guards could only look on good-humoredly, trying to end the session and usher the actor Eugene Hutz towards the stage door. He obviously enjoyed the rush of fame as his band is still relatively unknown and could well use some publicity. I am not sure if Madonna was “amused,” as the security measure were extremely strict before her press conference and no hobby-photographers were allowed in the press room. Therefore, I was quite surprised by the friendly relaxed atmosphere of all the international journalists huddling around the action, enjoying this unusual occasion in quite an intimate surrounding.