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Berlinale: The International Film Festival for the Rest of Us
by Maria Rippe

The Berlin  International Film Festival a.k.a, The Berlinale is one of the big players in  the world of international film festivals, on par with the likes of such festivals  as the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and Cannes. While  showcasing prominent world class films, the Berlinale also brings to the screen  a wide selection of lesser-known, but none the less, excellent independent  films. Offering this wide selection of films to its audience, the Berlinale  gives to its participants the opportunity to view films that would not normally  be shown on the commercial screen. Not only does it offer unique films, but the  Berlinale remains accessible and affordable to the everyday person. It is the  openness and accessibility that makes the Berlinale a well-beloved and highly  anticipated event that draws people from across the world and closer to home.  The Berlinale is a wonderful addition to a city that is forever reinventing  itself and at the cutting edge of what is new and trendy. So during the dull  and dreary days of February, this film festival splashes the city with glitz  and glam and a little bit of grit.

The wide selection  of films offered at the Berlinale is a filmgoer’s idea of paradise. It’s not  every day that one is able to go see a film from an Iranian director or one all  the way from New Zealand, but that is what is so special about this festival.  As an international film festival, the Berlinale is able to offer and showcase  a vast amount of foreign films that simply would have no chance on the  commercial screen. Not only are there documentary screenings on the topic of  the derelict waste water systems of Mexico city (El Buzo 2015) but also  there are film screenings for a French comedy about a wine tour of a father and  son, who happen to be redneck dairy farmers (Saint Amour 2016). With  this wide mix of film types and genres, there is for sure something for  everyone and every taste.

The question of  how one is able to get tickets to the Berlinale is unfortunately a bit  complicated. You can find tickets for most films online or in person at the box  office. The tickets for films officially go on sale three days before the  showing of the film at 10 am. The number of tickets depends on the available  cinema. This sometimes can make it a bit tricky when the theater has a limited  number of seating. Sometimes, when a film is sold out, a limited amount of  tickets are released to the public during the three days leading up to the  film. It is advisable to check regularly the online ticket sales page and see  if the film that is sold out has other tickets that have been released to the  public. If buying tickets online is not an option, tickets can be bought in  person at the actual box office three days before the screening. A tip in  buying Berlinale tickets is that buying tickets online is only a small faction  of the actual ticket sales. The best option in buying tickets is to go to the  box office and buy them there. It is always best to buy tickets as soon as  possible and know exactly what you want to see. That being said, the ticket  prices can also vary. depending if you buy them online or at the box office and  on other additional costs. There is also a ticket limit of two tickets per  movie per person. Although this limits the amount of tickets one can buy, it  also ensures that there is no resale of tickets. Further information on  purchasing Berlinale tickets and other guidelines can be found online  (

One of the more  exciting parts of the Berlinale is its accessibility to the directors and  actors. A sure way to see a director and actors is to attend a world premiere.  Often in a world premiere, members of the cast and the director will attend the  showing with the general public. Using myself as an example, last year I was  able to attend the world premiere of Mr. Holmes. Not only did I see this  film, but I was also able to attend the question and answer time with the  director and actors. In this world premiere the cast and director were in the  audience and only three rows away from where I was seated. Sometimes following  a world premiere, there will be a question and answer time with the actors and  directors. In these sessions there is an opportunity to ask the actors and  directors questions about the film and their acting career. From what I saw, it  seems like they will accept a number of questions from the crowd. The neat  thing about these sessions is that it is “included” in the price of the film  ticket. The drawback is that it a first-come, first-serve type of thing, so if  you want to have an opportunity to ask a question, make sure that you are at  the front of the line and know where the question and answer session is  located.    

The festival is one of those things that  people around the world and in Berlin look forward to every year. As you take  in the different events throughout the festival it becomes clear that this is  an international event. What better way to celebrate Berlin's international  connections than through a film and popcorn at the Berlinale.