We started our work last weekend of with some sound bites from Tribeca Film Institute CEO Brian Newman, who granted us an interview in a truly cinematic setting at his hotel. Brian talked about his work at the Tribeca Institute and introduced the new online distribution platform Reframe Collection (www.reframecollection.org) – a filmmaker friendly distribution model for independent filmmakers offering their films to download, stream or purchase. (See soon the upcoming James “Conversations Without Border’s” posting on this.)
The next night we met Denver International Festival co-founder Ron Henderson, whom we kidnapped from the International Film Festival Summit reception (www.filmfestivalsummit.com) to talk with us about his festival and all the activities the Denver Film Society has produced during last year’s Democratic National Convention, including their online film competition, Cinemocracy. He also shared some of his many new online ideas for the Film Society in the near future.
Remember last year’s clip of Angela Hawkins, German Films, and her hand puppets? This year we spoke to Angela again and she performed more marvels with her menagerie of paper pop-up cut-outs, which for Angela represent the “mood of the market” and the types of creatures she encounters here. (She herself pops up in James’ Berlinale Unbound video accompanying his first column from the festival.)
The next day, we were entertained by a festival-director duet: Martha Otte of Tromso International Film Festival (TIFF) and Hermann Greuel of Norwegian Youth Film Festival (NYFF). They’re a dynamic husband and wife team, each running a festival in the small town of Tromso near the Arctic Circle. One festival takes place in complete darkness (TIFF), and the other one in eternal daylight (NYFF).
The following day James and I visited Berlin based production-distribution outfit X FILMS (of Run Lola Run fame) where we toured their headquaters and learned about the infamous history of their villa, situated right next to Berlin’s traditional, manse-like restaurant, Café Einstein, one of James’ favorite hang outs.
That same night we were invited to a party at the hipster Gruene Salon, part of the groundbreaking Volksbuehne theater in Berlin-Mitte and hosted by Interfilm, the Berlin short film festival founded and run by Heinz Hermanns and his team. Besides the traditional short film festival that has been running for a quarter of a century, Heinz and his team also produce Going Underground, a short film festival that takes place on Berlin’s subway trains; the films on the LCD monitors mounted in every subway car. If you have a film of up to 90 seconds in length that’s entertaining and can be shown without sound, send it in. The next edition of Going Underground will take place in September.
On a cold and cloudy Thursday morning, Cyan Smyth, a documentary programmer for the Belfast International Film Festival, ventured outside with us to one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin wall (bordering the building that houses the European Film Market), to share some of his thoughts on how to program for a festival in a politically-charged environment.
Finally, we met with Rachel Klein, independent producer and co-chair of the upcoming Produced By conference in L.A., featuring the crème de la crème in film production. This is Rachel’s first visit to Berlin and the Berlinale, and it was intriguing to hear her stories about an U.S. indie producer experiences here.
All of this and more to come step by step, once we had a few good nights rest. The one major complaint I have about this festival is even in Berlin, days are still only 24 hours – never nearly enough to see all the films I’d like to and spend the time I want to with friends and colleagues. But it’s been an exciting adventure I already look forward to next year’s edition. That should be even bigger and better when the festival celebrates its 60th Birthday! Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Berlinale!