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Berlinale 2008 Endnotes

With a media blitz not experienced before the 2008 edition of the Berlinale featured a roster of stars including but not restricted to Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones, Madonna, Sharuk Khan, Martin Scorcese, and Jeanne Moreau as well as the most prominent German film stars and directors. As expected, the appearances by Madonna and the mega star 'King' Khan generated enthusiastic crowd scenes and a journalistic frenzy.

This frenzy displaced attention from other Berlinale aspects. To name but a few; outstanding selections by the Forum and its Expanded Forum, strategic knowledge dispensed in professional seminars and roundtable such as the keynotes, co-production conference and the European Film Market Industry Debates, and achievements of the World Cinema Fund and the Talent Campus (now considered to be one of the most important innovations introduced by Dieter Kosslick) . Add to this the slimmed down version of the Shooting Stars presentation featuring outstanding young film actors and actresses from throughout Europe, and the ever-expanding European Film market and one understands now why Kosslick is wondering about the limits of Berlinale growth.

After all this year's Berlinale surpassed all prior editions. Including the European Film Market, the Berlin festival featured close to 1100 films in 2325 screenings, provided more than 20 thousand professional accreditations, including 4,200 journalists, and continued holding its leading position as a public international film festival by selling 230.000 tickets. The expansion of the Berlinale and its market is fueled by Kosslick's ability to generate private and public sector financing and the largess of European and federal and state German funding agencies.

According to the Danish 2006 Copenhagen Report "1.5 billion euros of public subsidy [are] currently finding its way into European cinema every year" resulting in the production of 700 films, a financial amount growing each yearn. A significant proportion of these funds emanate from the European Union's media fund and German state and federal sources. Thus several components of the Berlinale, such as the Talent Campus, the World Cinema Fund, the European Co-Production Market, the Keynotes seminar, or the Shooting Stars presentation organized by European Film Promotion could not thrive without support from agencies such as the European Union's MEDIA training program, German state film foundations and film support boards, the federally funded Goethe Institute, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the German Film Foundation.

Both the Berlinale Keynotes seminar and the Shooting Stars presentation have become important parts of the fest. The keynotes focus on significant changes and technological shifts impacting the film industry and placed this year interactive internet applications, including video games, and emerging and collaborative structures on the agenda. It remains to be seen if Don Tapscott's Wiki-principle will actually transform the film industry. There is no question that there is a generation digital divide and that there are new social networking patters though Myspace and facebook. Yet to suggest that the new generation will have a significant impact on the film industry through collaborative 'mass' production and virtual film making seems to be a technology driven prediction open to debate. The internet has indeed become an important film distribution and marketing mechanism. Yet film festivals are flooded by individual productions as will be the internet and other platforms once fast universal broadband access is in place. Jordan Mechner demystified the audience by emphasizing the qualitative difference between videogames and films and clarified that a successful film cannot readily be transformed into a successful video game. Complex story lines and character differentiation run counter to the video games rationale of involving the player as much into action as possible. To collapse both is equivalent to suggesting that a soccer game is identical with a piece of theater

Over the last eleven years the Shooting Stars project has evolved into an important and most appealing part of the Berlinale program. Created to provide professional marketing exposure to the most promising young European actors it has introduced to date 203 potential stars to a professional audience and the press. As distinct from past editions, the 2008 selection was carried out by a jury which chose nine out of the twenty two which had been nominated by different national film boards in Europe. Apart from participating in pitching sessions with international casting directors and other Berlinale events the group was exposed to a large number of industry professionals and will participate in other international film festivals to screen their work. Most of the past graduates have become successful actors in European films. Numerous rose to international fame such as Daniel Craig (CASINO ROYALE), Rachel Weisz (THE CONSTANT GARDENER), Franka Potente (RUN, LOLA RUN), as well as Eduardo Oriega (CHE GUEVARA). Several of the 2008 shooting stars have left their mark already such as the German Hannah Herzsprung ( FOUR MINUTES) and the Romanian Anamaria Marinca (4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS).

The public funding which the berlinale has secured is crucial for the training and marketing of film talent, for facilitating the production and distribution of films, and for educating film professionals in new problem areas. Evidently, the programs such funding makes possible have added to the reputation of the Berlinale as an outstanding international film festival.

Claus Mueller
New York Correspondent


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