Fest Abreast Of Growing City And Nation

Germany is bigger and so is the Berlinale.

Both the nation and its largest city are now united and undergoing a profound economic transformation. And both the festival and market here are also evolving into an increasingly potent economic force within the international film world.

Indeed, there will be more market and festival participants than ever, a record high 2,300 journalists will be on hand, and some 400 festival films will unspool in venues throughout this spacious and dynamic metropolis.

In the two largest sections of the fest, the main competition and the Forum of Yong Cinema, strong emphasis will be placed on films from Germany, although fest co-director Ulrich Gregor believes Germany-mania will probably subside by next year.

He cites reunification with spurring a burst of creativity from Teutonic filmmakers, especially former East Germans. There will also be plenty of Euro-films in Berlin, with four Italian pics in the competition alone.

And there will be a host of films by directors working outside their native countries, notes Fest director Moritz de Hadeln, in addition to co-prods mixing countries as diverse as Chile/Switzerland/France in the icase of competition selection “Amelia Lopes O’Neill.”

De Hadeln also notes that two-thirds of the competition films do not yet have distribution in Germany, a very high number.

Sidebars continue to play a key role at Berlin, especially for foreign buyers. The Panorama section will be clearly divided this year into three sections: Documentaries in the morning, features in the evening and a Romanian docu retrospective.

In the New German Cinema section, helmer Heinz Badewitz promises that for the first time all of the films will be subtitled in English for market participants. In another first, films from former East Germany will be included in the program.

Not surprisingly, “The Cold War” is the focus of this year’s retro program, the Stiftung der Deutsche Kinematek, helmed by Hans Helmut Prinzler. Sixty-five films from East and West, including Stanley Kubrik’s private print of “Dr. Strangelove,” will unspool.

In addition, a special tribute will honor the careers of Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, although at press time Mitchum was getting cold feet about making the trans-Atlantic voyage. The Childrens’ fest has been programmed by Renate Zylla into shorter time spans this year for easier viewing by youngster with short attention spans.

Public and press alike will have access to the fest’s massive new facility located in the Kongresshalle. Two screening rooms, to be dubbed the Fassbinder and Murnau Salles, will show the films of the three main programs. Press conferences will also take place at the Kongresshalle, but this year anyone in Berlin with access to a TV at home or in a hotel will be able to see the press conferences broadcast by Berlin’s newest cable channel, FAB.

Berlin will receive a boost to its stature as Germany’s newest film center. The Federation of European Directors and Authors (FERA) intend to announce during the festival plans to found a new Center of European Cinema in neighboring Babelsberg, home of the DEFA film studios.

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