Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Berlinale Film Festival

One of OFFscreen's members, Alex, is currently abroad and was lucky enough to check out the Berlinale Film Festival. Here is his update:

As an OFFscreen member studying in Europe, it can be difficult to miss all of the interesting films shown throughout the semester. Fortunately, I was able to attend the end of the 58th Berlin Film Festival. The Festival ran from February 7th through the 17th.

I arrived in Berlin on the 16th and was planning on seeing the new Michel Gondry comedy Be Kind Rewind. Unfortunately when I got to the box office I was informed that the screening was "only for the right sort of people." I am assuming (hoping) that this meant it was some sort of awards ceremony.

Luckily I was able to make it to the final showing at the Festival, which was the British comedy Happy-Go-Lucky. The film centered around a London schoolteacher named Poppy played by Sally Hawkins, who put in an immense performance and was awarded with the best actress award at the festival. I thought the best moments of the film came through the more peripheral characters including a neurotic driving instructor and the an intense Salsa teacher.

The real highlight of the experience was the atmosphere. The festival is a very big deal in the city, and the official messenger bags are a hot item. I saw one on every subway (u-bahn) ride I took. The film was shown in the prestigious Berlinale Palaste, the showpiece theater for the entire festival. It is actually only a movie theater for two weeks out of the year, as it normally houses large audiences for musicals. The red carpet outside and caped ushers inside definitely made for an intense viewing

Going to the Berlinale made me think of how lucky the Charlottesville viewers are to be able to experience films of a similar quality, which are normally reserved for big international festivals. Enjoy the rest of the season!


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