• Germany's news in English

The Local’s best bets for the Berlinale

Kristen Allen · 11 Feb 2010, 14:27

Published: 11 Feb 2010 14:27 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Second only to festivals in Cannes and Venice in glamour, the Berlinale claims to be the world’s largest film festival open to the public. Anyone with the pluck to negotiate the overwhelming lineup – 391 films with a total of 970 showings this year – can experience the best global cinema has to offer.

From the festival’s nine categories, the winners are:



If you see nothing else this Berlinale, the freshly restored Metropolis should be on your list. But you only get one chance! Bundle up, grab your flask, and brave the frosty weather to see the legendary silent science fiction film in its original glory at an outdoor public showing at 8pm on February 12 at the Brandenburg Gate. If you prefer your sofa, broadcaster ARTE will be airing the film, along with the live orchestra soundtrack, at the same time.


All twenty films competing for the top Golden Bear prize for best film, and the Silver Bears for best acting, production and screenplay, are likely to be well worth seeing. Here are a few of our favourites.

”Exit Through the Gift Shop”

The elusive graffiti artist Banksy’s first film is sure to be popular. Here he inverts the outside world’s curiosity about his persona with what he calls “a film about a man who is trying to make a film about me.”


Berlin hipsters are likely to flock to this flick, starring the dreamy James Franco as Allen Ginsberg during the San Francisco obscenity trial about the famous Beat Generation poet’s work “Howl.”

”Apart Together”

This period Chinese film opens the festival and depicts a soldier forced to flee communism for Taiwan in 1949 who more than 50 years later attempts to reunite with the love of his life – only by then she is married to sergeant in the communist army.

”The Ghost Writer”

Following the highly-publicised legal drama in Roman Polanski’s personal life, all eyes will be on his new film starring Ewan McGregor, which was finished from the director’s Swiss chalet while on house arrest.


This section focuses on new and provocative independent films, and this year looks back at the relationship of past and present in honour of the festival’s birthday. It also offers viewers a chance to vote for their favourite film for the Panorama Audience Award (PPP)! The “TEDDY” Queer Film Award is also issued for movies in the section, which explores LGBT issues.

“Jolly Fellows”

Dubbed “’Pricilla Queen of the Desert’ in the snow,” by festival organisers, this Russian film gets to know five Moscow drag queens and the dark stories behind their glamour.

”Beautiful Darling: The Life And Times Of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar”

This film is a homage to the transsexual entertainer Candy Darling, one of the most memorable figures of New York City subculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Take a deeper look at the character who inspired Lou Reed’s song “Wild Side.”


Those looking to get down with the locals can beef up on their Deutsch skills with the 14 films in the German programme.

“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Kill

Anyone interested in the way Germans interpret the Western film genre, whether or not they are fans Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, will want to see the most recent re-invention, heavy with special effects.

Portraits of German Alcoholics

According to Berlinale organisers, the documentary remains strong among German filmmakers, and one of this year’s examples, directed by Carlin Schmitz, manages to create arresting depictions of her subjects though they’re never directly addressed by her camera.


This section is a chance for young experimental filmmakers to splash onto the cinema scene and make the most of restriction-free entry requirements. The “echoes of the global crisis have finally reached the movies,” organisers say, and these reverberations can be felt in these films:


This film takes place at Paris’ Orly airport, a place where people come and go between events in their lives. Director Angela Schanelec observes four couples in transit with an underlying sense of longing and detachment.

”Head Cold”

In this documentary German director Gemma Bak herself – as well as her psychosis – is the issue at hand as she explores her mental health through discussions with friends and family.


For cinema fans who want to bone up on their film trivia facts or see that influential film they’ve been meaning to look up, the Retrospective is their chance. This year in honour of the Berlinale's 60th birthday viewers can see films from festivals past.

”The Deer Hunter”

The Soviet delegation, including two members of the Berlinale jury famously walked out on this Vietnam War film starring Robert De Niro which showed at the 1979 festival. See for yourself why they and other communist countries found its portrayal of the Vietnamese so offensive.

”The Marriage of Maria Braun”

Legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1978 drama about the difficult life of a woman during and after the Second World War is a film that every German film buff should see.


Story continues below…

Twenty-five films from 15 countries are competing for the Golden and Silver Bear short film awards in one of the festival’s more experimental sections. You can view them in clusters at several different showings where the films focus on topics ranging from feminism to bank robberies. Though it’s running out of competition, the animated short “The Song of the Red Forest,” about two musical beings who sing about their world is a must see.


Find something for your precocious wee ones and tweens in this section, which is split into “Generation Kplus” for the 13 and under crowd, and “Generation 14plus” for the more grown-up children. There are some 28 films competing for a Crystal Bear in both sections, with another 10 showing outside the competition. Many of the films, set in exotic far-off places, will appeal to budding geographers. But if you don’t think your rugrats can sit still through English subtitles, opt for the section’s few original English films. Our picks:

”This Way of Life”

Set in New Zealand, this film recommended for children 12 and older follows a young Maori boy and his father on a journey where they catch wild horses, eat boar meat grilled over a campfire, frolic in rivers and live by their own rules.

“Gentleman Broncos:”

This outlandish film recommended for children older than 14 centres on a teenager who lives in a geodatic dome and writes imaginative science fiction stories. When he takes his best manuscript to a writing workshop extraordinary things happen.


The fourth annual instalment of Culinary Cinema invites guests to employ all five senses as they revel in the consumption of delectable cuisine, refreshing beverages and some circumspect cinematic discussion.

”The Botany of Desire”

Eat bison steak and organic hemp salad prepared by a Michelin-star chef while you learn about the relationship between humans and plants. Apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes to be precise.


Microwave some popcorn, put on your slippers and catch the highly-anticipated Berlinale Awards Ceremony from your couch on TV. The elaborate gala event at the Berlinale Palast will present the festival's most important prizes, the Gold and Silver Bears. Tune in on February 20 to German channel 3sat starting at 6:55 pm.

Related links:

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd