Friday, May 22, 2015

Berlinale Ticket Burn

Months later, here's a topic that still irks: Berlinale ticket prices this year.  It's my ninth and I can´t say if I think there will be a tenth.  The value just isn't there -- as much as 13 euros for competition films which nearly always are picked up and distributed later anyway.  Maybe here I´m missing the point a bit, by not getting on the ¨I-Saw-It-At-The-Berlinale-Premiere¨ bandwagon. But I am perfectly willing to wait a few months to not stand in line for an hour or more to pay 13 euros to stand in line again to try to get a seat less than a quarter of a kilometer from the screen in a packed film Palast. 

Na gut, my strategy this year was to emphasize the Generation films with which I have had pretty good luck in the past and the Forum films screened at the Arsenal, as I explained in my previous post.  This worked out well because the Arsenal, which often sells out during the festival, screens Forum highlights the following week.  This meant I was able to get tickets for a Mongolian (!) version of Kafka´s The Castle, appropriately titled simply K.  The German subtitles were a bit too difficult and flashed by too fast for me to grasp it all.  This only augmented the Kafka-esque experience of it all, the and I was quite happy with myself for having chosen the film.

I took the Pirate, J. and A. to see Madare Ghalbe Atoom, a morality tale, which, given the negative press that Tehran´s rich kids have been getting over the last year, is particularly timely.  The Pirate was the only one who seems to have completely perceived the ending, which was nearly too quick for the human eye.  Spoilers here on A.'s das Blog.

Berlinale Kinotag, for which I had three tickets, two Panorama films and the Peter Greenaway competition film, yielded nothing of interest.  Indeed, the Greenaway film was pretty much as unwatchable (although admittedly stylistically beautiful) as most of his previous work -- what on earth was I thinking, scheduling this as my 3rd film of the last day of the festival??  Being packed into a Friedrichstadt Palast seat unsuitable for anyone over 170 cm tall didn´t help.

The stand-out film for me in the Generation category was Mina Walking from Afghanistan, about a young, lower-class girl whose only protection against a junkie father and a grandfather suffering from dementia was her own quick-wittedness. Min lilla syster deserves a mention for the beautiful detail of its close-up nature cinematography as a counterpoint to its difficult but compellingly-addressed topic of eating disorders. But in contrast, I found Prins, the Generation section premiere, yet another dull attempt at a U.S.-style gangster movie by a Northern European society that is clueless about real neighborhood-level violence.  Very bad choice on the part of the Generation jury.

Having spent only 70 euros for 13 films, this was my cheapest Berlinale ever. This year´s budget ticket-buying strategy brought the Berlinale´s value back to me, although it did limit my viewing to primarily documentaries and youth films.  But these are often areas where the Berlinale excels.  The Arsenal option also effectively extended the festival for me, over 14 instead of 10 days, which helps with movie-going fatigue.  And films like K, Koza and Mina Walking, to me, remain the reason why I keep going back to the Berlinale.  Where else does one have the opportunity to see such obscure film from across the world?

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