Pity the haggard journalists in the festival computer room who grimly compose articles to meet international deadlines. Barbara Möller of the Hamburger Abendblatt published 450-800 words in a daily Berlinale column. She wrote 22 film reviews ranging from one sentence to 300 words. Five times she quoted colleagues from Der Spiegel, Berliner Tagesspiegel, Frankurter Allgemeine, Neue Deutschland and die tageszeitung.
One great advantage to representing a mainstream newspaper (besides the salary) is that Ms. Möller was on hand for the pre-festival press conference, and attended both the premiere and the closing awards ceremony in the Berlinale Palast. She could often quote festival head Dieter Kosslick, e.g, “The team chose 343 films from 3320 films submitted, 67 from Germany or German directors,” or “the Berlinale must no longer bow to the Americans who only had three films in competition (from 22),” or “the team was organized and ready three weeks ahead of time, doomed to thumb twiddling until the opening.” On the trivial side she reports the number of pornographic films Kosslick has seen (one) and the festival buzz word “melon sex” based on an act with that fruit in The Wayward Cloud. Ms. Möller could give a complete rundown of the award ceremony from acceptance speeches to moderator Anke Engelke’s remarks about Lou Taylor Pucci (Thumbsucker) being too small for his suit.
Ms. Möller reported twice from the Talent Campus as well as from the Prada party (“boring except for the film Thunder Perfect Mind projected on the ceiling of the old swimming pool where the party took place”). She says that all 3500 accredited journalists must have said, at least once, that the 55th Berlinale “is half as old as film itself.” (The Lumiere brothers’ first 50-second film showed 110 years ago in 1895.) Supposedly, Kosslick threw out the film Heights because Glenn Close refused to come to Berlin for promotion. It was replaced by a Hungarian film: Fateless.
Barbara Möller also had access to jury chair Roland Emmerich, who, according to her, said that this year’s competition films were weak compared to other years; he was looking for films which were relevant. She questions the meaning of relevant, as in artistically, technically, or politically. In the end she questions the intelligence of the jury which gave the Golden Bear to U Carmen eKhayelitsha; she had panned it as being unoriginal (“the 13th Carmen adaptation”) and irrelevant. At halftime she predicted Paradise Now would be a strong contender, as well as Sophie Scholl. (The former did win some lesser prizes and the latter took best director and best actress). Her favorite was The Sun which won nothing. Here she is not alone as many critics were wrong in their predictions. Nine international journalists took a straw vote and came up with The Late Mitterand as a winner; it also got nothing.
Concerning the jury, she said, “What could you expect from a blockbuster director, a fashion designer, a writer, a producer and three actresses between the ages of 20 and 30, all without jury experience?” She was especially caustic about Chinese actress Bai Ling, saying, “Hardships, which she suffered for three years in the People’s Army, conditioned her to stand in the February snow drizzle wearing the deepest of décolletés.” She repeated fashion designer Nino Cerruti’s quote three times in ten articles, “Terrible: these red carpets at film festivals throughout the world.”
In summary: Hamburger Abendblatt readers should be satisfied with their daily facts as well as the spicy barbs.