The 68th Berlinale Festspiele

It’s Berlinale time again and the 2018 official programme was released on Tuesday in an official ceremony. The festival opens next Tuesday 15th February and runs for ten days until Sunday 25th February. As always the programme is filled to bursting with a diverse and eclectic selection of local, foreign, studio and independent films from around the globe. The programme is divided into 9 sections and over 400 films will be screened over the ten days of the festival.

kino © Lloyd Dirks

There are 24 films in competition for this year’s Golden and Silver Bear prizes, which will be announced on February 24th at an event at the Berlinale Palast. Films in competition this year have come from all over Europe, as well as the USA, the Phillipines, Iran and South America. AS always the Berlinale is presided over by a prestigious jury of international talents, which this year includes director, screenwriter, film composer, and producer Tom Tykwer (Germany), actress Cécile de France (Belgium), photographer and former director of the Filmoteca Española Chema Prado (Spain), producer Adele Romanski (USA), composer Ryūichi Sakamoto (Japan), and film critic Stephanie Zacharek (USA).Each will bring their own expertise from their respective fields to the competition.

Gold & Silver Bears © Dirk Michael Deckbar:Berlinale

The Berlinale each year recognises extraordinary talent and this year will award an Honorary Golden Bear and present a series of films in Homage to American actor Willem Dafoe. Ten of Dafoe’s films will be screened in a retrospective curated by the Deutsche Kinamathek, chosen from the archive of the more than 100 films he has appeared in throughout his career.

Willem Dafoe © Sasha Kargaltsev

Willem Dafoe © Sasha Kargaltsev

Never one to shy away from politics, the Berlinale will address two of the hottest topics globally right now, during this year’s festival. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal of 2017, sexual harassment in the industry has firmly taken its seat in the spotlight, as has the issue of the gender pay gap. Hollywood may be home to the highest profile news on these topics, however no country’s film industry is immune, including Germany’s. On Monday 19th February, a free panel discussion will be held on Culture Wants Change – A Conversation on Sexual Harassment in Film, Television and Theatre (in German with English and sign language interpreters.) In addition a ticketed seminar will be held on Saturday 17th February, hosted by CEO of Doc & Film International Daniela Elstner to present the Speak Up! initiative, titled Closing the Gap. A Seminar With Creatives and Financiers on How to Take Action Towards 50/50 by 2020. 

The full Berlinale programme can be viewed here and as usual there is a complex process around ticketing that needs to be navigated. Once you have worked it out though it’s smooth sailing. See our Berlinale for Beginners Guide for some helpful information. The three venues closest to the hotel are the elegant and atmospheric Zoo Palast which is just 500 metres away (near Zoologischer Station,) Delphi Filmpalast (Kantstrasse) and Haus der Berliner Festspiele also just a short walk away (Schaperstraße). Much of the Berlinale activity is centred around Potsdamer Platz also only a short train or taxi ride away. Ask the concierge for directions and see the venues list for all the details. So this gives you at least 9 cinemas to choose from just to start! (Arsenal, Berlinale Palast, Canadian Embassy, Cinemaxx, Cinestar, Cinestar IMAX, Delphi Filmpalast, Haus der Berliner Festspiele and Zoo Palast). All foreign films have English subtitles but maybe you prefer to see a film in one of your spoken languages, so specifying country may help narrow down your choices even further.

Melinda Barlow is an Australian freelance writer and editor, based in Berlin since 2012. Melinda works with print and online media and has a natural curiosity that informs her work. She is passionate about travel and great content. She loves to write most about the world, its people and why we all do what we do.