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Survival of the Fittest
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

When thinking of survival kits, it’s natural to think of artic expeditions or hunting and fishing adventure trips where certain items can mean the difference between life or death. So, for us (Shelly Schoeneshoefer and Karen Pecota -- two novices), it was hard to imagine that for the Berlin Film Festival, we would be in desparate need of a survival kit. When we accepted the challenging job as a film critic, we were unaware of the tedious training and physical endurance expected from our editor. We felt as if we were about to climb Mount Everest or cross the great Sahara. Confronted with so much information and intimidating movie schedules, we were naturally desperate. Expert Mary Nyiri with six years’ festival experience trained us with elegance and speed and explained the inner workings of the seemingly chaotic and complex levels of organization of the Berlinale. Fighting sheer exhaustion, sore eyes and hunger as well as the lack of the necessary facilities, we knew we had a hard road ahead of us. After our training session, we hit the road running to catch the press conference with members of the Berlinale jury. During the question and answer session, it became clear that in order to survive screening anywhere from four to six films a day we needed our own customized survival kit.

The jury had their own techniques and the following are some of their secrets: Roland Emmerich prepared nothing but suggested Traubenzucker (dextrose). He was surprised at the demanding schedule but had previous training from other film festivals and thought good films would energize and propel you despite the heavy schedule. Franke Potente had loads of advice: Granola bars, aspirin, a variety of cold medicines, Traubenzucker (auch!) and lots of clothes. She made a good point: who wants to be stinky, or even worse, who wants to sit next to a stinky film critic! She also said pace yourself in this tough schedule; she always carried an apple and water bottle. Bai Ling said the snow calmed her, and since it was the Chinese New Year, having her family around helped. Ling described the festival as a painting with everyone portrayed; such thoughts helped her through. Nino Cerruti drank fluids all day, mostly coffee but not water. He sees himself as a film lover with no particular credentials, representing the typical spectator. Andrei Kurkov swam in the morning, drank coffee and whisky, but absolutely no vodka! Wouter Barendrecht and Ingeborga Dapkunaite said good films and good company helped them through their work as jury members.

Contest Rules:

For each film critic (Karen Pecota, Becky Tan, Shelly Schoeneshoefer and Mary Nyiri), choose from the list below what she put in her own personal Survival Kit for the Berlinale 2005. Send your answers to film critic Shelly Schoeneshoefer by June 30, 2005. The person with the most correct answers will win a DVD of the film In Good Company.

Have fun and good luck!

Survival Kit Supplies
•A good breakfast
•A freezing walk to hotel after viewing bad films
•Alarm clock
•Backpack with hidden pockets
•Café Paris for feeling famous
•Carbonated Ginger & Rose Water...yuck!
•Cassette recorder
•Coffee & a “real hard” boiled egg
•Cold shower at 6:30AM to shock
•Custom neck pillow
•Dunkin Donut fuel for first film
•Eye drops
•Favorite shower gel/body oil
•Fur-lined boots
•Fuzzy roll blanket
•Glass of fine wine before bed
•Handy-ET phone home
•Hot shower at 7:45AM
•KaDeWe for retail therapy
•Lanz flannel nightgown
•Liquidrom Mineral bath with underwater jazz music
•Map of Berlin
•Matching shawl and gloves
•Money… only water is free in Berlin
•Money…NOT…but good friends
•Note cards: celebrity questions
•Open return train ticket for when you’re a zombie
•Paris chocolate truffles
•Phone number of AWC Berlin for emergencies
•Press office computers
•Print-out of films showing
•Red Jacket
•Starbucks vanilla Latte/bagel
•Thongs: for your feet
•Transformer for flat iron
•Two pairs of shoes
•Warm shower/warm thoughts