Yes, folks, it's my fifth straight year, which makes me a real Berlinale pro. I'm at the middle-point already, have seen 9 films and think I'll finally meet my goal of a total of 20. The fact that this year practically everything is subtitled in English is helping somewhat, as my German still isn't good enough to follow German subtitles, which used to represent half of the screenings. However, this change also means the films are accessible to many more festival goers and the ticket lines reflect this; they are absolutely fierce this year.
2011 so far has been a great Berlinale year. The Devil's Double is a film that is both technically fascinating and wonderfully gripping. Viva Riva is the first Congolese feature film ever and has great energy. For those who love to look at beautiful French women, the captivating Ludivine Sagnier and Manie Malone, respectively, star in these two films, although both are sadly far too made-up. I'm predicting the first will hit commercial theaters big and the second might just make it as well, but we'll have to see.
For something a bit less flashy, I was very impressed with the Albanian film Amnistia, which is tightly, subtly plotted and carries the audience along to a powerful and surprising conclusion. Tomboy offered an interesting treatment of gender identity; director Céline Sciamma got some amazing performances out of child actors 10 years or younger. Nearly everything I've seen has been good and there are still 5 days left. Delicious!