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Private Screening
by Mary Nyiri

Dozens of films to see, press conferences to attend, meeting with colleagues and even an occasional meal means that at a film festival, time is of the essence. But what happens when the one film you absolutely have to see because you want to write about it and pursue some interviews is totally sold out and no press tickets are available?

Kulinarisches Kino or Culinary Cinema is a special program at the Berlinale where film meets food. This year included eleven films, five of which were paired with a lovely dinner afterwards in the Gropius Mirror Restaurant. I wanted to see Last Call at the Oasis, a documentary about fresh water because I also was attending Tea Time with Erin Brockovich who is featured in the film.

Tickets sell out for the movies with meals within a short time of going on sale. Last year I managed to buy two tickets after two hours of trying, but this year I could not get through. Rather than give up, I asked at the Press Office about the possibility of a ticket just for the film. Unfortunately, since the films are shown in a small theater at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, no more seats were available. I was, however, given a name and place to see about borrowing a DVD. Tracking down the DVD was easy but I had to return it in three days, which meant I had to find a place to screen it (no laptop!). After asking at the various program offices, a friendly Panorama program person made a few calls and arranged for me to use my own private screening room. I showed up at the appointed time and was escorted to a darkened room with a huge flat-screen television. There I had complete, uninterrupted quiet to watch the film, take notes and, dare I say, relax with a bottle of mineral water for almost two hours - mission accomplished. 

Perhaps Erin Brockovich would appreciate my sticktoitiveness!