And so it begins…

Wow, the last few days felt like a blur.  Not sure where to begin. It’s been stressful, exhausting and I’ve barely slept. But it’s also one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. Well, maybe it’s best to start at the beginning. Ben, Shea, Ethan and I received a travel grant from the university to attend the Berlin Film Festival (known as the Berlinale). We then applied for student accredition (which is equivalent to receiving a press pass for the festival) and luckily received that as well. This all felt surreal at the time and I could barely believe it was actually happening.

On February 11th at around 4 PM, the four of us arrived in Berlin. We were not entirely sure what to expect. We took a bus to the accreditation office near Potsdamer Platz and picked up our passes. There we were informed what the press pass gave us access to: Every film screening (however not necessarily every time, which means that we don’t have access to the premieres at Berlinale Palast), the European Film Market (one of the largest movie markets in the world), Berlinale Talent Campus (A series of lectures and seminars related to film. These talks are frequently hosted by very important figures in the film industry, for example Isabella Rosselini, who happens to be the head of the Berlinale Jury, and Ralph Fiennes. We are actually attending a lecture by Fiennes tomorrow) and the Lola@Berlinale. One must pay an initial 60 euro fee for the press pass, however, after that everything is free. Regardless, I’m very grateful for having these passes, since they provide us with a unique perspective on the festival not available to the public. To put it simply, it’s amazing to be here and it still seems very unreal to me now.

After receiving the passes, we went down to the ticket counter for accredited guests of the festival. To our surprise virtually no tickets were available for the next day. This is because the majority of accredited guests (of which there are hundreds probably thousands), come at 7 or 8 in the morning to the ticket counter to buy tickets. Therefore by 5 or 6 in the afternoon, the majority of tickets are sold out. However, we did manage to get tickets to a few screenings (This included Margin Call, a major Hollywood production about the financial crisis premiering at the Festival. It has an all-star cast which consists of Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley and a few others).

Ironically, when we left the accreditation office, I realized that the premiere of Margin Call was being held that night at the Berlinale Palast (which was only a few feet from the office). With our passes, we were able to access the press area of the red carpet. A thrilling way to begin our trip, since I was right next to the red carpet and only a few feet away from Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons (and after seeing him in person, I can honestly claim that he is one of the coolest men on the planet).

So that was our first night, I will go into more detail later, specifically about the films, which I have quite a bit to say about. I would like to use this blog to incorporate sociological perspective on these films, since I do believe that the festival has provided me with several useful insights.

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