There was some grumbling during the festival that the 26 films in competition were “not that special.” Perhaps this year they were less than just average. However, no one was forced to watch even one film in competition. One could choose among over 350 films, from retrospective (old films) to generational (young people’s films), from documentaries to Perspektive Deutsches Kino (young German directors) or even just go to film discussions and side events without watching a single film. There was also some question as to why a Chinese film was picked as the opening film which did not completely make sense since it is also a growing film market and has its own set of super stars. Something not to grumble about was that for the Teenagers and kids’ films, one can go as a group of five or more and the tickets cost only Euro 2 per person.
This year there were more sub categories such as Gala (Metropolis), Special, Birthday. What is the thinking behind this? Were the films too late for competition? Are they no longer “new,” i.e., have already played outside their country of origin? Do we need them anyway so that their stars can walk the red carpet, which doesn’t always work. For example, Nine was shown as a “birthday” film, but no one, not Daniel Day Lewis or Penelope Cruz or Nicole Kidman, etc., came. The most frequently recommended films, The Son of Babylon by Mohamed Al-Daradji and Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I want to whistler)by Florin Serbin, both ended up winning prizes.