Blog 3: Festival might as well be Cabaret

2009-02-09 00:00

Berlin is a dark, mysterious, and beautiful place. Built as a capital striving for greatness, there is a sense of shattered dreams, broken hearts and healing souls.

I love this city: More so than the dazzling romance of Paris, or Rome and its retrospective of its glorious empire and even London, so busy with life and making a buck. It is because it was built like a capital that the streets are so large, but there aren’t enough people to fill them, creating a weird ambience of space and loneliness.

Two world wars and another bitterly cold one has also impacted the city, which seems in a continuous battle to get over its past.

Potsdamer Platz, where the Berlin Film Festival is set, is where a new Germany is being built. Before 2000 it was a blank canvas. It wasn’t always. Once a thriving area of the rich and famous, it was first bombed to smithereens and remained a no man’s land where the Berlin Wall kept things undeveloped.

It is still being shaped, but the main architectural genius is here, all around me. Sitting on the fifth floor of one of its key buildings with a vista of the glass castles, my tales about films, directors and their stars are eked out into words.

The process of seeing films, interviews and reportage is not new to me. But my mentor Dana Linssen (a well respected film critic and editor in Holland) goes through my work with precision. Her insights and our debates are what make the difference. I am probing more, exploring concepts and understanding my role better.

The bright lights of celebrity have been rather entertaining. I went to a screening of The Reader at the Berlinale Palace, not expecting to be watching the film with the stars of the show, Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. I walked down the “brown” carpet alongside their red carpet and felt the flashes of the cameras warm my back. Tomorrow night I’ll watch Milk with Sean Penn, one of my all-time favourites.

The parties have been good and I am currently sitting with a hangover, which is being cured by a strong Starbucks Americano. Last night’s banquet in a disused power station was quite spectacular. The food and the wine and the beer and espressos… well I have never! A late night rendezvous at The Revolver night club took us Talents into the wee hours of the morning.

I like being a journalist. I couldn’t quite see myself experiencing Berlin without the ability to meet so many interesting people and experience the true magic of the city.

It really is unfair for the rest of you, but such is life.


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