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Berlinale 2013 – Ten Years of Talent Press

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Talent Press 10th Anniversary

The Talent Press, a program of the Berlinale Talent Campus that partners with the Goethe-Institut and FIPRESCI, celebrates its consecutive success for ten years. This educational program established in 2004 for young film critics and film journalists from all around the world creates a great opportunity for the participants and the future of film criticism. The 10th edition of the Talent Press will take place between 9–14 February during the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.

Every year, emerging film critics are invited to Berlin to report on the films at the Berlinale and on the events of the Berlinale Talent Campus. Personal mentors guide them through their journalistic work and edit their interviews, reviews, reports, articles and features. Their output is published on the Talent Campus website, the websites of the Goethe-Institut and FIPRESCI, as well as in a print publication, "Best of Berlinale Talent Campus," distributed on the final day of the Campus.

The eight Talents will be mentored by accomplished critics, Chris Fujiwara, Dana Linssen, Derek Malcolm, and Stephanie Zacharek. Past critic mentors have included Talent Press founder Peter Cowie, and critic Aruna Vasudev. The program is organized by critics, Oliver Baumgarten and Aily Nash.

The success of the former Talent Press participants is astonishing. We are very proud and pleased to announce that many of them are now among the important critics and journalists of their countries. They program film festivals and are quite active in the international arena. Klaus Eder, the General Secretary is happy that our profession of film criticism attracts the interest of young colleagues. And by looking at their engagement and enthusiasm, he has the impression that film criticism is not at all a vanishing profession.

We have contacted some of our colleagues who attended the Talent Press in the past and they have shared their experiences. Among them are the former Vice President of FIPRESCI, Chilean film critic Ms. Pamela Bienzobas, the director of the museum cinema of Istanbul Modern Ms. Muge Turan, French film critic for Premiere and a programmer for Critic's Week in Cannes Ms. Pamela Pianezza, Swedish critic of Expressen Mr. Jonas Holmberg who won Jurgen Schildt and Kurt Linder prizes for his work and Ms. Aily Nash a New York based critic and curator who has been coordinating the Talent Press program with Oliver Baumgarten since the 2012 edition. (Alin Tasciyan)

Pamela Bienzobas / Chile

Ten years already!? It sounds crazy. But yes, it was back in 2004 when I had the opportunity to take part in the Talent Press, attending the Berlinale for the firsbt time. One of the reasons it's hard to believe is that there seems to be a continuity ever since. Many of the other participants (of what I'm sure was the best generation so far!) have kept active in the festival circuit and the world of cinema, so we are still in regular touch today, almost forgetting we go back such a long way. The people I met in that group, including tutors Derek Malcolm and Chris Fujiwara, are certainly the greatest wealth this experience gave me.

These past ten years, I've continued to cover international festivals (and the Berlinale) as a freelancer for a variety of publications, but always for the Chilean critics' Revista de Cine Mabuse.cl, and I've become further involved in FIPRESCI, which co-organizes the Talent Press (serving as vice-president from 2005 to 2010, and assuming different tasks as our Grand Prix). I've had the chance to participate in festivals in different ways, often sitting in an official or critics' jury, programming (former documentary festival Chilereality) or conducting Q&As (like right now for Rotterdam).

Maria Ulfsak – Sheripova  / Estonia

Talent Press was a really useful experience for me. I got some good tips for writing, met some very interesting people and it gave me enough self-confidence to go to the UK to do my Master's degree in Film Studies there. And I'm forever thankful to Mr Derek Malcolm who was my mentor at Talent Press in 2005 — he wrote me a letter of recommendation for the University of Warwick in UK (which, at that moment, I had never heard of). I still don't know what he wrote, as he refused to show it to me and sealed the envelope (laughing), but I'm quite sure he helped me a lot and I'm very happy I listened to him and chose that university.

Currently I'm writing mostly for Estonia's second biggest weekly paper Eesti Ekspress and I also work as a programmer for Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn.


Huang Hsiang-Yao / Taiwan

I felt very privileged to be part of the Talent Press in 2005. I was a very young film critic then, and really cherished being in the presence of these very fine critics from around the world and had benefited tremendously from their company. I am also grateful for the amazing opportunity of being in the front line of Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival), a cinematic Mecca for film lovers all over the world.

I have continued on in my role as a film critic, and I am still deeply convinced that films and film critics can bring to the audience the beauty and strength from the cinematic world. I will continue to serve in this role. The impact of the two short weeks at the Berlinale from many years ago are still being felt.

Thank you Berlinale Talent Press. Happy anniversary.


Nil Kural / Turkey

I attended the Berlinale Talent Press in 2007 while I was the editor of the film magazine Film+. Since then, I frequently remember and cherish the experience I gained. A few years later I started to work in Milliyet, one of Turkey's foremost daily newspapers so the lessons I learned in Talent Press on reporting on a festival on daily basis and getting used to that rhythm became crucial for me. Furthermore, I remember Talent Press not only as an experience that helped me professionally but as a place which I had a lot of fun and had friends with whom I still keep in touch.


Pamela Pianezza / France

I was already working as a film critic for several years when I attended the Talent Campus, but I still learned a lot. How to follow the wild and crazy rhythm of a film festival when you have daily deadlines for your writing for instance. Or how to write for an international audience, since I was used to doing it only for French or Canadian readers. I realized how much I like it and since January, the French cultural magazine I edit, Tessmag.com, also offers an international edition in English (www.tessmag.com/category/english-edition/). Of course it's still a work in progress, but I love how it forbids me to be francocentric.
I also learned how to practice Derek Malcolm and Chris Fujiwara's sense of humor in my writings, which is something. I observed Stephanie Zacharek's impressive method to push you beyond your limits (or what you thought your limits were) with a very bright energy and without you noticing it. And I discovered Dana Linssen's brilliant "Slow Criticism" concept, which has been one of my biggest inspirations since, as a writer, as an editor and as a teacher.

But the most exciting thing for me was to spend so much time with young actors, directors, cinematographers, film music composers, producers… And to talk about their jobs. Of course I already met people who do those jobs, but we only talked about what they were actually doing in the restrictive frame of an interview. During the campus, I think I asked all the questions I had in mind for my fellow talents and by answering patiently they gave me a much better view on how this industry works. Now that I teach young film critics, I can see how priceless this knowledge is.

And to keep the best for last: some of the most talented talents of "my" campus also became my friends. We may even work together one day… So happy birthday to the Berlinale Talent Campus!

Biography: I attended the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2011. I'm now a programmer for the Cannes Critic's Week. I'm the founder and editor of the cultural magazine Tessmag.com and I write as a freelance film journalist for Première (France) and Sequences (Canada). I also teach History and Theory of Film criticism at the Tallinn University Baltic Film School and I organize workshop for young film writers in different European cities. I focus mostly on European cinema in general and Nordic and Eastern films in particular.


Jonas Holmberg / Sweden

I think the Berlinale Talent Campus was great. It was very inspiring and fun! Since my participation in the Berlinale Talent Campus I worked for four years as editor in chief for the quarterly film magazine FLM, and as critic for the national newspaper Expressen. Actually, the very days I attended the Berlinale Talent Campus I wrote my first piece for Expressen. For six months I've been the Head of the International Program at Göteborg International Film Festival. I still write criticism in the publications mentioned above when I have the time.


Malwina Grochowska / Poland

Participating in Talent Press was, for me, definitely a turning point. First of all, it was a great professional and social experience. I had wonderful tutors: Derek Malcolm and Peter Cowie, who not only helped with editing the articles, but provided us with a valuable insiders' view of film writing and the film industry in general. I keep meeting the tutors and my fellow Talent Press participants now and then at different film festivals, which is the best proof that Talent Press is a perfect introduction to the film community for a young film critic. A week at the Berlinale Film Festival changed a lot. Before it, I didn't really believe that being a film critic could be my main occupation in the future.

Now, a few years have passed, and sometimes I'm still wondering if it's not a precious hobby rather than an occupation. It's not an easy time for film criticism and to make a living from it is certainly harder than for an investment banker. But it also has obvious advantages over the latter.

After several years of working in major Polish film websites, I'm currently based in New York and free-lancing for Polish media, including magazines "KINO" and "FILM". As a member of FIPRESCI, I've been in juries at several film festivals. I also contributed to books featuring interviews with Polish filmmakers and got an honourable mention in the Polish competition for young film critics.


Müge Turan / Turkey

I attended the Talent Press in 2005. It was my first English editorial experience. I was a bit nervous about many things: I was not feeling comfortable with my English capacity, not so confident with my writing skills... On top of that there was a Mac computer to deal with and lastly an unfortunate twist was a nasty flu I had, which they called the Berlinale flu. So in sum it was not easy. But I will always remember what I learned there. These are the things you will need forever as a film critic/writer: How to have a more direct and economic use of language, how to concentrate on the core of your article, the tips and tricks for a smart interview... And most importantly it was the real deal, it was live. We, as the editorial team covered one of the biggest festivals in the world. So you write your review and the next day you see it on big pages of the magazine screen attached with your own photo. Now that felt good, I remember.

Small note: Was it just a coincidence that shortly after the Talent Press, I began my new job as the editor of the magazine, Empire Turkey... That, I will never know. I am now the curator of the museum cinema at the Istanbul Modern. My book "From Forbidden Planet to Solaris: Tracing Speculative Film" was published in the USA in 2012.


Aily Nash /  USA

I was a participant in the Talent Press programme in 2010, and was invited to join the Talent Campus team to coordinate the Talent Press with Oliver Baumgarten since the 2012 edition. Oli and I are currently gearing up to welcome eight new participants to Berlin in February! Here is some information about what else I've been up to since the Talent Press in 2010:

In 2011, Aily Nash curated and organized Kinema Nippon, a series of benefit screenings of moving image works from Japan, and recently co-organized a retrospective tour of Kidlat Tahimik's films with Jed Rapfogel of Anthology Film Archives, which also screened at Harvard Film Archive and Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. She frequently writes for the film section of the Brooklyn Rail, and her writing has also appeared in Film Comment, Kaleidoscope, de Filmkrant and elsewhere. Her curated programs have screened in venues such as Anthology Film Archives (NYC), in Light Cone's Scratch Expanded (Paris), Northwest Film Center (Portland), Image Forum (Tokyo), Echo Park Film Center (L.A.), Art Cinema OFFoff (Ghent), and others. She programs films at Basilica Hudson, coordinates the Berlinale Talent Press program, and is based in Hudson and Brooklyn, NY.


Eren Odabasi / Turkey

Alongside my involvement in professional film criticism at the monthly film magazine Altyazi, I also continue my studies in economics at the University of Bosphorous and my current research project is an analysis of film exhibition and sales. It was during my memorable time in the Berlinale Talent Press that I first had the opportunity to observe the dynamics of a major festival and a busy film market. The Talent Campus has been influential on both my work as a film critic and my academic interests.

Prior to Talent Press, my assignments had mostly been film reviews and director portraits. But after being introduced to the journalistic side of things thanks to this wonderful initiative, I was able to provide various types of coverage. I was fortunate enough to conduct interviews with renowned directors such as Claudia Llosa, Sergei Loznitsa and Miguel Gomes. The tips I gathered during Talent Press have been very helpful on these occasions.

For those of us who have to combine film criticism with other professional activities, discovering a masterpiece during a festival is even more meaningful because that singular experience can reignite our passion for this job and motivate us to continue writing even if the rewards are scarce. In the couple of years I have attended the festival, Berlinale has presented many magnificent films of this sort from Pina to Tabu.

I would like to thank everyone who helped Talent Campus become the great event it is today. I'm sure we will celebrate many further anniversaries in the years to come.

 

Laurence Boyce / Great Britain

I was on the very first Berlin Talent Press and have hazy memories of new friends, plenty of work, the occasional night out and lots of cigarette smoke. Which tells you how long ago it was.

I learnt that that while writing is often a lonely and solitary job (especially when you write negative things meaning that filmmakers ignore you at parties) it's important to meet and learn from peers who you can exchange ideas with and argue long into the night about movies. And, of course, there were the mentors who gave so many ideas and advice and made me feel that I'd chosen the right career.

Film criticism has changed irrevocably since I was on the Talent Press both for the better and for the worse. But I think my time there has allowed me to embrace these changes and I am forever thankful that I was able to be on the first.

Since my time on the Talent Press I have worked for various national newspapers and magazines as a film critic and journalist. Currently dividing my time between Tallinn, Estonia and the UK, I am a regular contributor to Screen International, The Guardian, Moviescope, Cineuropa, Little White Lies, Eesti Ekspress, The Baltic Times and many others. Aside from journalism, I also work for the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn and am the Artistic Director of Sleepwalkers: The Student and Short Film Festival in Estonia.

 

Tommaso Tocci / Italy

2013 will be my fifth Talent Press — which means I've been a part of the program for half of its existence, and I could not be happier about it. I was a participant in 2009, then I was invited back to help create and run the TP website. I’ve kept coming back.

The passage of time turned it into a ritual — my own Groundhog Day — and in this repetition lies the full appreciation of the work of mentors, participants and team members who keep injecting new blood into film criticism, one edition at a time.

When I'm not busy watching the Talent Press grow and expand its magnificent roster with new friends and colleagues every year, I continue to write about films for various international publications (from — among others — Italy, United States, Germany, Netherlands, Philippines) and to report from film festivals. I also work as a copywriter and translator, and currently serve as the Social Media Editor for the Edinburgh Film Festival.

My first Talent Press experience was instrumental in broadening my horizons and becoming part of a global community. In fact, many of the things I do now can probably be traced back to a cold February in Berlin. 

Happy anniversary, Talent Press.

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Berlin 2013

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The alumnis:
Pamela Bienzobas arrow.
Maria Ulfsak
Sheripova arrow.
Huang Hsiang-Yao arrow.
Nil Kural arrow.
Pamela Pianezza arrow.
Jonas Holmberg arrow.
Malwina Grochowska arrow.
Müge Turan arrow.
Aily Nash arrow.
Eren Odabasi arrow.
Laurence Boyce arrow.
Tommaso Tocci
arrow.