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Berlinale 2014: Final Take

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Four jour­nal­ists, one pho­tog­ra­pher, 58 films, 21 lan­guages, five hours on the red car­pet and 5800 min­utes of film in eleven days – Cafébabel Ber­lin has been re­port­ing on the Berlin In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. While there, we soon be­came ad­dicted to cof­fee, ex­cite­ment and in­ter­views. And, of course, we be­came ad­dicted to films. But how do we organise everything?

When does the let­ter of ac­cred­i­ta­tion ar­rive? Who likes what kinds of films? What was the story about the Eu­ro­pean Shoot­ing Stars again? As early as three weeks be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Berli­nale on Feb­ru­ary 6, Cafébabel's Berlin ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment had turned into a hive of bustling ac­tiv­ity. Still, with over 400 films in ten sec­tions, this year's 64th Berlin In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val of­fered rather a lot to dis­cover. Nev­er­the­less, only one ed­i­to­r­ial meet­ing was needed in the run-up to the event as well as two on site – the rest was han­dled via Face­book, Drop­box, Skype and e-mail.


Our in­di­vid­ual fortes quickly be­came ap­par­ent: Chris­ti­na is keen on Latin America, Da­ni­el likes to discuss socio-political matters, Li­li­an is besotted with Asia and Sébas­ti­en follows the cinematic developments taking place in his native country. As photographer, Jean-Paul largely had free rein – the only must, of course, being a snapshot of Ge­or­ge Cloo­ney. We watched 58 out of a total of over 400 films included in the Berlinale's overall programme at nine venues across the city. At around 5804 minutes of film, the psychedelic Berlinale jingle rapidly gets into one's head and coffee becomes the drink of choice. While Da­ni­el and Sébas­ti­en abstained from drinking any coffee at all and Jean-Paul consumed a relatively small amount, Chris­ti­na and Li­li­an drank enough coffee for all of us – after drinking what felt like 342 li­tres, we stopped keeping count. 

The addictive jingle of the Berlinale 2014 ––– video by Ber­lin­Mitte­Boy1307.

The Ber­li­na­le has always been an international affair, but this year it broke all the records. Of the 58 films watched by the Berlin team, the majority were set not in Germany but in Korea, Japan, China, Tai­wan, Hong Kong, Viet­nam, India, Myan­mar, Eng­land, the USA, France, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, South Su­dan, So­ma­lia, Argentina, Mexico, Is­ra­el, Denmark, Brazil, Russia and the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. The cinema screen took the Caféba­bel editors on a journey through 23 foreign countries and helped them to become better acquainted not only with blind Chinese masseurs, purple-clad lobby boys and Somali pirates but also with Brazilian lifeguards and Mi­chel Hou­el­l­e­becq.


Fortunately, the Berlin editorial team is fluent in a number of languages. For the remaining ones, we had recourse to subtitles since the original languages of this year's films included not only French, Spanish, German and English but also Vietnamese, Arabic, Swedish, So­ma­li, Chechen, Cantonese and Burmese, among others. No sooner had the four editors left their cinema seats than they set about typing up their reviews, impressions and interviews or arranging Jean-Paul's snapshots into informative picture galleries. The aim was to produce one ar­ti­cle per day, a feat which was achieved three times over with a total of more than 30 tex­ts in German, English and French.​ Yet what sounds like taxing intellectual work was, for the most part, unbelievably exciting and sometimes even downright funny, such as the time when Sébas­ti­en was mistaken for a waiter at the Eu­ro­pean Shoo­ting Stars buffet.

Then there was the time when Li­li­an, at the press screening of 20,000 Days on Earth (2013), sat next to Anke En­gel­ke, who spoke to her on first-name terms as a matter of course. For his part, Jean-Paul could only laugh as the Ge­or­ge Cloo­ney fans had their idol autograph all kinds of objects on the red carpet – including a long cardboard box of unknown contents. Sébas­ti­en saw the funny side once again when the young German actress Maria Dra­gus told him in a firm but friendly manner that she wanted to do the interview in French, insisting "en français s'il vous plaît!" Then, on February 16, the last day of the Berlinale, the film marathon was over again. The Bears had been awarded and the Berlin editorial team shared in the delight of the winners, Diao Yinan and Wes An­der­son. We took in the Ber­li­na­le jing­le one last time and simply looked forward to watching a good film. After all, there are hundreds of them at the Berlinale. Join us again next year!


We love films! You can find our daily updates right here in the magazine or via Ber­lin.​Babel.​Blog and @Ca­fe­ba­bel­Ber­lin. Get ready for exciting film reviews, interviews with yet-to-be-discovered stars and snapshots from the festival grounds.

Translated from Berlinale 2014: Klappe, die Letzte