The Berlinale is a fun event to attend even when not accredited. I spent six days in Berlin - mostly visiting family - but in between I attended three films and one reception at the festival. I stayed at the same hotel as Becky Tan and Shelly Schoeneshoefer and managed to meet up with them about three times so I did get a whiff of their Berlinale exhilaration.
How to get tickets when not a press person?
There are four ways:
1) You can order them online, but you still then have to go to a central ticket counter at Potsdamer Platz to pick them up.
2) You can stand in (a sometimes very long) line at the festival ticket office.
3) You can go to the theater where the film plays a half hour before the film starts and pray that there really will be an extra ticket.
Or you can do it the EASIEST way (which is always my preference) and
4) go to a theater ticket agency in Hamburg and buy the tickets with a Euro 2 surcharge.
Since I hadn‘t been to the Berlinale since I lived in West Berlin in the ‘80s, this was a whole new experience. I was curious about the new movie theaters I would go to. The Arsenal was smallish and cozy like the Abaton in Hamburg and the Friedrichstadtpalast, which seats 800, featured art deco windows and a wonderfully dramatic curtain on the stage.
And, finally, I had the experience of a reception put on by the Filmförderung Hamburg (an office that gives grants for films). The invitation was to Currents Magazine, so I represented us. No fewer than 22 well-known actors (Detlev Buck, Sibel Kekilli, etc.), as well as quite a few directors and producers were there. I was quite disappointed that nobody recognized me (!), but I was glad for the experience anyway.
Definitely one of the 100 things you should do before you die!