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Four days of Berlinale! What better way to spend a vacation
by Becky Tan

As told by Angelika Stark to Becky Tan

My best friend and I booked a hotel in a central part of Berlin and went there from Friday to Tuesday. We saw 11 films in all and booked almost all of them on the internet. This was a bit tricky because you had to try to be online, completely attentive, at 10:00 and choose films which would show within the next two or three days.

Sometimes we failed to get what we wanted; sometimes we bought tickets without knowing anything about the film, which is actually a great opportunity to see a real treat with no idea what to expect. We tended towards unusual films which presented new ideas or locations. We could save the mainstream films for their openings in Hamburg.  The most we saw on one day was four films, but that’s almost too many. We recommend no more than three a day. We bought a general public transportation ticket and could easily go from one cinema to the next. Because this was our second year, we were more familiar with the layout, which helped in planning

Favorite films were Superwelt from Austria which showed in the Forum classification and Kar Korsanlari (Snow Pirates) from Turkey, which ran under the Generation KPlus children’s film category. We watched only one film in competition: 45 years, for which Charlotte Rampling and Tom Curtenay won best actors.

We love the Berlinale for its diversity of international films which we would otherwise never see. There is a tingle in the atmosphere, an enthusiasm! Perfect strangers of many nationalities talk to each other in English. There is a friendly openness for ten days that is hard to find anywhere else. It’s special in that it is a big event, a world event. The cinemas are always full; the audience claps approval after the film. And how fun it is to see the director and members of the cast, as well as the production people, come on stage to discuss their work. Here are completely normal-looking people talking about a work of art, as if it, too, were perfectly normal – and to them it might be. Also, in two films, Snow Pirates and La casa más grande del mundo, children were on stage. One day they were just children in Turkey and the mountains of Guatemala who went to a casting session and got a part. The next day they appear in an international festival and stand, live, on stage in Berlin. An experience they will never forget!

The Berlinale is intoxicating, almost addictive in a positive way. It was also strenuous, and although we managed to do some shopping, we saw very little of Berlin – something we can do any other time in the year. February is reserved for the Berlinale.