What a festival ! No day, no show without stars. Fest-head Dieter Kosslick understood very well that he needs the red carpet to attract television and photographers — and to satisfy Berlin's fun-seekers. At least in Germany, the Berlinale was present as never before, on small screens and front pages. Even the opening and closing ceremonies were broadcast live, moderated by an inexperienced young lady best known from kids' television. One might even suspect that certain films in competitive hadn't been invited because of their quality or originality, but because of the stars available to walk the red carpet. It's a tendency of major festivals that can't be helped, they become media events (see Cannes, which started this "mediatisation"), and this year's Berlinale was well on this path.
Kosslick is a good entertainer. He invented new sections, such as "Eat, Drink, See Movies — Celebrating Culinary Cinema". He radiated a good mood. Bur that's no reason to praise his competition program. One could, with a clear conscience, miss some of the films, or see them a few days later in regular cinemas — say, ones involving Robert de Niro and Clint Eastwood. At least, there were works from Christian Petzold, Jacques Rivette, the Argentinean Ariel Rotter, Stefan Ruzowitzky (Austria/Germany), Steven Soderbergh, Quanan Wang (whose Tuya's Marriage won the Golden Bear), the comeback of Jiri Menzel...
Fortunately, Berlinale does not consist of the competition only. There's the "Panorama", headed by Wieland Speck, there's and the "International Forum of New Cinema", headed by Christoph Terhechte — sections which care deeply about "the rest of the world" beyond the cultural mainstream. They allowed discoveries, particularly the "Forum", which — with its excellent selection and informative catalogue — drew large crowds and proved a good place, finally, for critics. (k.e.)
Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival: www.berlinale.de