And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin is about to hobnob with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!
Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s really quite easy.
WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?
Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!
The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year of mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format!
International film history consisting of cinematographic rediscoveries, high-quality film prints, digital screening formats, film aesthetics, film technology, and historical black and white documentary filming. For 2019, the focus is on the presepctive of female filmmakers (Retrospective)
Cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (the German Cinematheque – Museum for Film and Television) and that pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of great and inspirational film stars or personalities (Homage)
The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via:
The European Film Market (EFM) an international marketplace for the new film year, and a platform for innovation and change
With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.
Yes, that means YOU!
A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate.
If you want to!
Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!
A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!
BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the Berlinale programme or Programmsuche. Use this item to filter and search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city, as well as the Potsdamer Platz Shopping Arcade (Arkaden), every Berlinale Box Office, many theatre box offices, and in pubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants everywhere!
It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!
USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the Berlinale programme for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!
Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!
USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – with the hashtag #Berlinale or #Berlinale2019. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English or German, the section category, the country of origin, the venue, and the time of screening.
Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.
And a third one too!
CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover very soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing!
Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!
I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!
If you plan well, you can even use the Berlinale shuttle bus departing every hour whichcan be used by each and every Berlinale festival visitor travelling between Potsdamer Platz (Linkstraße, close to the entrance of U2) and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (main entrance), and is absolutely free of charge!
LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!
No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.
This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy, 5 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!
You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!
BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead!
On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.
If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account. There is no processing fee, so what you see is what you pay!
You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you by either Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID.
There’s also an exclusive ticket counter for punters with MasterCard!
If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 6 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €3.50 each!
Oh, and you need to be at least 18 years old to see any of the films (except for Generation screenings).
NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!
The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.
Go on live a little!
If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts!
If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!
WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and looking forward to picking up your badge and Berlinale gift bag!
I usually manage to get 99% of the film tickets that I want. However, on the very last film festival day, I sometimes end up buying tickets from my own pocket at the cinema box office, as press tickets are sometimes in limited supply, especially if I really, really, really want to watch something!
All in all, I pretty much get every film ticket that I want.
Thank you Berlinale Press Team!
BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!
In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!
STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there.
You get stars such as Christian Bale (Batman / American Psycho), Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes), Diane Kruger, Catherine Deneuve, Bill Nighy, James Norton, Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean / Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ), Casey Affleck, Jonah Hill, Jamie Bell (King Kong), Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche, Trudie Styler (wife of Sting), Moritz Bleibtreu, Peter Sarsgaard (husband of Maggie Gyllenhaal), Die Toten Hosen, Peter Lindbergh.
And directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), as well as other other directors, producers, and actors.
In fact, everyone!
A few years ago, Helena Bonham Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!
Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.
If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!
I mean, it sometimes goes insane.
The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Robert, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money.
If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!
The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.
And all for the price of a cinema ticket.
Less in some cases!
MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you.
Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!
TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!
See you at the Berlinale!
A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE 69TH BERLINALE. YES! THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 IS FINALLY HERE!
This article is not sponsored and even though I receive press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I choose, are my very, very own!
Please note that there are two affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I'm a British girl from Manchester living in Berlin with my German husband and my half British – half German son.
My blog is a lifestyle expat travel blog and puts a focus on my promotion of culture, history, travels around the world, Europe, Brexit, the Royal Family, British-German life and being British in Berlin - I am The British Berliner!
Missing out this year but I’ll be waiting for your favourites, Victoria! 💖
Thanks so much Carolyn!
Details of my favourite films, my not-so favourite films, and films not to miss, coming up AFTER the Berlinale itself!
p.s. What a shame that you couldn’t attend. I missed your company! 😀
Victoria, I love Idris Elba…you are a lucky girl to see him so close up. How do you manage to have so much energy for such a busy schedule? The Berlinale does look like an amazing event, maybe I will make it there sometime 🙂
Thanks so much Gilda!
We all love him too & he’s very popular on the European circuit. Idris Elba is not only such a brilliant actor, but a talented director too.
He was humble and very generous with his time.
The German press were quite excited and there was lots of shouting and shoving! I was standing right next to the TV reporter with the microphone! He even took a selfie with me but it was too shaky to share, so I shared the nicer one that I took of him alone, instead!
After the film screening, we had a Q&A with him. And again, he was lovely. And I even managed to get picked out of hundreds of hands, to ask an audience question!
I was so pleased.
Haw! Haw! How do I manage to have so much energy for such a busy schedule?
Seriously speaking. Good planning!
My husband (The Music Producer) and I, both love the Berlinale and attend every year. We have different film taste but we always try to watch at least 1 or 2 films together. And that was one of them! Do come. You’ll like it! 😀
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