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Film Festival Today

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Berlin: Berlinale 2011 Overview

Written by: FFT Webmaster | March 28th, 2011

The Berlinale continues to solidify its position among the top three film festivals and film markets. It scored well  this year with more than 800 films in the Berlinale  and the European Film Market program attracting close to 20,000 accredited  professionals  including 3900 journalist and  selling  300 000 tickets to the general public.  Undoubtedly, as the first major international film festival and film market in the calendar year offering a widely differentiated program with a strong documentary  and art house films components, the Berlinale has a unique profile  that cannot be matched by Cannes or Venice.

To date the festival has not been impacted by some trends troubling the film industry. Fewer teenagers and young adults go to the movies, there is diminishing number of platforms for theatrical distribution in the United States and Europe, and European film production has risen   by 28% since 2005. Ironically this increase is fueled by German co-productions accounting for 25 % of 385 international films at the berlinale and 10 of the 22 films in the main selection.

Among the achievements of Kosslick is securing funding for the Berlinale which rose from 11 million Euros in 2001 to $20 million this year, of which 6.5 million are coming from the federal government with the remainder derived from ticket sales, sponsors, the European Film Market and other ancillary revenues. Arguments for the reduction of public funding are constrained by the fact that the Berlinale generates between 40-80 million Euros income for the Berlin region. The Berlinale may be impacted by a reduction of film production funding from the European Union’s MEDIA program. Unparalleled  by any similar funding agency in North America MEDIA has a $1 billion budget for the 2007 – 13 period, supporting virtually all aspects of European Film Making. Cutting the budget which could impact berlinale programming Isince fewer films will be produced.

Yet several other initiatives taken by Kosslick and his collaborators over the last ten years seem to ensure a steady supply of films for the Berlinale.  The European Film Promotion’s Shooting Stars program introduces each year the best new European actors and actresses to international producer.  The widely acknowledged Talent Campus, now emulated by several other film festivals,   has introduced since its inception more than 1000  young film makers in  week long  training programs to the Berlinale,  and  the World Cinema Fund,  has provided since  2004 coproduction funding  to more than 82 films  by film makers from developing countries.  The Berlinale program of 2010 carried 40 films which were tied to initiatives like The Talent Campus and the World Cinema Fund.

No Berlinale takes place without critics’ complaints about the main selection. Yet few  disagreed   this year with the principal awards going to the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and his actor and actress -ensemble for Andere and Simin and the Hungarian  director Bela  Tarr for  The Turin Horse. Certainly   there was the poorly reviewed  Nazi Comedy  My  Best Enemy (Wolfgang Murnberger) featuring  one of Germany’s key actors Moritz Bleibtreu who also starred in last year’s Berlinale disaster Jud Suess –Film ohne Gewissen, as well as some other poorly received mid level entries in the main selection. These critics fail to take other components of the berlinale into account such as the excellent productions in the Forum and Panorama and other side bars, nor give Kosslick credit for his co-stewardship of the European Film Market which was the most successful market ever held.

Claus Mueller
filmexchange@gmail.com

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