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Press Conferences Revealed
by Becky Tan

Children ask the best questions at press conferences. They are direct, to the point, and interested in the answers. At adult film PCs we listen to the same old questions. If you don’t believe me, go to the Berlinale website, click “English,” then “press,” then “press conferences.” At the top is a list of six categories of films, e.g., Competition, Homage, etc. Open one, then click through film titles at the right. You can see either the long or condensed versions of these press conferences. I am very grateful to the Berlinale team for making these available to everyone.

Whether you will be delighted with the commentary is another question. Part of the blame goes to the journalists who ask the questions. For example: “How did you like filming with your colleagues?” “What inspired you to take on this topic?” “How do you like Berlin?” “What is your next project?” “How did you like your film location?”

Sometimes it’s a delight when the questions take a different turn. For example, German comedian Anke Engelke was in the audience to add some non-serious flavor at the PC of The Monuments Men with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, etc. Her question was, “Why did you steal the first three notes of the cat theme from Peter & the Wolf?” and then she proceeded to whistle it. This initiated an argument, whether it wasn’t actually from The Cat in the Hat. Following Ms. Engelke’s example the audience loosened up to ask some entertaining questions such as, “What do you hate most in the film business?” “What do you want to tell your fans in China?” “Why are you all looking so good after drinking all night?” Is the movie business a money driver?” “Are you going to the soccer world cup in Brazil this summer?” The answers weren’t much more entertaining that the standard, “Yes, I liked the people in the location (Harz Mountains) very much.” But at least it was a change from the norm.

Children, on the other hand, get straight to the point. At the PC for the short film Sprout, five-year-olds stood with a microphone in their hands and waited for the Korean translator to relay their message to director Koon and then come back with the answers. They wanted to know: “Was Bory really afraid of the dog?” What kind of candy did the lady give her?” “Was the old grandma really not able to hear or speak?” “Did Bory really fight with the other girl, or were they just playing?” “Was Bory’s mother worried that she had left home all alone and came back so late?” “Did she really drink Schnapps?” “Does she really go off with the strange man?” The answers could perfectly set the plot straight so that everyone understood it in the end. I was very impressed with the children – both their courage to speak in front of a crowd and their intelligent questions.