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Kosslick : Berlinale beyond the Talent Campus

Kosslick prefers the term broadening (breiter machen) to enlarging (vergroessern) when discussing the rapid expansion of the Berlinale and the addition of new festival components. The European Film Market (EFM) grew by thirty percent and included this year more than 200 companies and more than 810 market screenings with close to forty percent of the EFM films also shown in other sections of the Berlinale. Thus EFM’s claim to presenting upscale quality commercial art house productions appears to be validated, setting it apart from the American Film Market and the Cannes market. This broadening will be reflected in the 2006 move to the Martin Gropius Bau where EFM will have twice the space and additional screening facilities. The politically oriented Panorama program of the Berlinale added several production reaching a total of 54, and virtually all other sections, except for the Forum presented more programs than last year.
Several new sections were added to the Berlinale spectrum in 2006 such a “Selling Democracy”, the retrospective “Production Design + Film” and the “Perspective Deutsches Kino”. In light of this expansion observers tracking the development of the Berlinale under Dieter Kosslick had mixed reactions to the reduced International Forum of the Young Cinema program. For some it reflected a change towards the Berlinale becoming more commercial, yet Christoph Terhechte, who is in charge of the Forum, suggested that though there was no change in the Forum budget, a tightening of the Forum line up was necessary. As he put it “...virtually all parties interested in the Forum program who were queried about the change, be it the press, producers or directors, concurred that we showed too many films and that more attention should be paid to the directors and distribution”. Thus the 2006 program may even be smaller.
For Kosslick, now in his third edition of the Berlinale, there is logic in expanding the Berlinale. Under his direction each Berlinale had a new component starting with the Talent Campus three years ago, last year’s addition of the co-production market and now the establishment of the World Cinema Fund for film makers from developing countries. All Berlinale components are interconnected and operate in relative independence without the major frictions of the pre-Kosslick years. Compared to the old Berlinale regime under Moritz de Hadeln, Kosslick has been able to generate close to $2 million Euros in additional annual public funding as well as growing private sponsorship amounting now to festival budget of close to $ 11 million euros. During the last years of his 20 year reign de Hadeln was denied more financial support by Berlin city and Brandenburg state agencies since officials I interviewed grew weary about his lack of innovation and focus on foreign productions (and as some cynics suggested his accents) From Kosslick's perspective innovation and synergy has to be built into the structure of the festival and financial self sufficiency established in as many festival components as possible.

The Talent Campus is a case in point in reaching these objectives but also constitutes a case of what Kosslick calls “Frischzellenkur” or virgin cell therapy. Talent Campus insures the long term supply of new and original productions for the Berlinale and profiles the Berlin area as a production center for young film makers from all over the world. Including this year’s crop of 530 talents, well on their way of becoming film professionals, close to 1600 young film makers, including directors, producers, designers, composers, script writers, and so forth, have benefited to date from the week-long training seminars, productions session, networking meeting, and social events with the participation of well known experts from the film industry such as Ken Adam, Roland Emmerich, Walter Salles and Wim Wenders to name but a few. According to Christine Dorn, who is in charge of Talent Campus, the average quality of young film makers selected for Talent Campus has risen, certainly due to the fact that information about the benefit of participating has spread widely. It has become more difficult to be selected. In 2005 only 542 young film makers, roughly one fifth of the 2580 applicants, succeeded. They were hardly novices; virtually all had production experience and many awards. No wonder that 18 Talent Campus graduates had production or acting credits in the 2005 Berlinale program. As one Talent Campus participants put it, whenever she completes her first film, it will be submitted to the Berlinale first. Since more than 40 percent of the talents selected came from the south, thus developing countries, cultural diversity of the Talent Campus is paramount, constituting for sponsors a compelling funding motive.

Synergy and financial self sufficiency are goals Kosslick tries to reach. Thus the Berlinale components are linked as much as possible. Thus 22 talents from the campus were selected to participate in co-production market with three receiving awards and presenting their productions at the market’s pitching session. The co-production market in turn focused on case studies of film financing of feature films in the 2005 official competition (some of the funding had been stitched together before in prior Berlinales). One of the recipients of a 'world cinema grant' was a talent campus graduate and, as noted, forty percent of the production screened at the European Film market were part of the 2005 berlinale programs.
As to financial self- sufficiency, Kosslick’s additions have not drained thus far the festival budget. When he established Talent Campus, he succeeded in having its budget totally covered through new sponsors. Both the European Film Market and the Co-Production market are supposed to generate enough income to pay for them, a reasonable goal; given the rapid expansion of both markets and the Berlinale’s reputation of being a work rather-than-party event. Whether or not both markets can become profit centers for the Berlinale providing income to the festival remains to be seen. Continued growth of the media industries due to culture consumption, the discovery of major festivals by private sponsors as marketing and branding vehicles, and the accelerating development of Berlin as one of the most important cultural and film centers in Europe, are creating ideal conditions for the rise of the Berlinale, not to speak of the savvy of its current management.

Claus Mueller, New York correspondent


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