film festival tourism


The Berlinale

Why Go? One of the major fests and held in a vibrant international city.

Festival Description: Begun in 1950, the Berlin festival has developed into an efficiently organized celebration of some of the best of recent international cinema, and is open to the public as well as press and industry. With over400,000 attendees each year, including 20,000 industry professionals, and over 400 films screened, the Berlinale is the largest such event in the world.  It’s inexpensive and easy to navigate for non-German speakers. These  In terms of audience (a mix of film professionals and local fans) and setting (in a major metropolis, not a tourist town) , it more closely resembles Toronto than Cannes, Venice or Sundance.

Festival Website:

Timing: two weeks in mid-February

Dates for 2012: Feb 9-19

Program: Ably directed by Dieter Kosslick since 2001, the program features a wide range of new international titles divided up into several categories: main competition, panorama (more adventuresome fare), forum (younger and more experimental filmmakers),  generation (films aimed at children and young people), perspectives on German cinema, shorts,  and retrospectives. Screenings begin at 9am and continue to late in the night.

Dieter Kosslick

Tickets: Unlike Cannes, the Berlinale is open to the public. Tickets are about $15 and can be purchased in the mall across from the CinemaxX Theater.

Venues: New state-of-the-art theaters in Potsdammer Platz. The grand  Berlinale Palast and the multiscreen CinemaxX and CineStar feature English subtitles on all films; theaters further afield will usually have German subtitles.

the interior of the Berlinale Palast

The CineMaxX multiplex

The CineStar Multiplex

Getting Around: The three major venues are within easy walking distance of one another in the Potsdammer Plotz area with numerous cafes and restaurants nearby.

Hotels: I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Berlin City Center, an inexpensive option that’s an easy subway ride from the main festival venues. STRESEMANNSTRASSE 49 BERLIN, 10963 phone +49-30-200520.

Holiday Inn Express Berlin City Center

Excursions: Like most other cities, Berlin offers  on-off bus tours.  The English narration on the one I took went into considerable detail about the traumatic events the metropolis has undergone during the past century.

The Festival Year by Year


2011 Program Book

Best Film I Saw: The Turin Horse (A Torinói ló) Bela Tarr’s formidable vision of the end of days is rendered in stark black and white images ideally suited to the film’s stark subject matter.

The Turin Horse

Unexpected Pleasures

  • Getting re-acquainted with Ingmar Bergman through the festival’s large-scale retrospective of his work.

Harriet Andersson in Bergman's Summer with Monika

  • Experiencing very different views of Berlin in My Best Enemy (Mein bester Feind), If Not Us, Who? (Wer wenn nicht wir), and Unknown.

My Best Enemy

If Not Us, Who?


  • Paddy Considine’s side-splitting turn as a new age preacher in the British comedy Submarine.

Paddy Considine in Submarine

Link to review of 2011 Berlinale:

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