Seesions unite tyros, vets in dynamic project

One of the Berlinale’s most ambitious projects of recent years has been the Talent Campus. Since its launch in 2003, the educational platform has not only helped make the festival more relevant to young filmmakers, it’s also injected fresh blood into the international industry gathering in Berlin.

The event invites 500 young filmmakers from around the world to the Berlinale to learn from international experts, filmmakers and stars and to get to know other filmmakers. Participants take part in workshops, lectures, screenings and discussions on the essential elements and issues of filmmaking.

Its popularity is soaring. A record 3,500 young filmmakers from 121 countries applied for this year’s event, with participants hailing from such farflung lands as Bhutan, Fiji, the Dominican Republic, Oman and Iraq.

The success of the Campus led quickly to international spinoffs. In 2004, Talent Campuses debuted at the Molodist fest in Kiev, the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in New Delhi and the Sithengi Film & TV Market section of the Cape Town World Cinema Festival. Other campuses have since been set up at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires and at the Pusan Film Festival in Korea.

Unveiled in 2002 by Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick (new to the job at that time), the Campus has since become a breeding ground for international film projects. The practical, hands-on approach of the Campus has transformed the Berlinale into an event that not only presents films but also helps create them.

For example, Campus alumni Atsushi Funahashi met his Pakistani co-producer Mohammed Naqvi and American writer-cinematographer Eric Van Den Brulle at the event in 2004. Together they made “Big River,” which is having its European premiere in the Berlinale’s Forum section this year.

The Campus doesn’t end with the fest. Organizers maintain a networking system year round for former participants to stay in contact and to stay connected to the industry via its Web site.

“For example, if you’re shooting in Berlin and looking for a cinematographer, you can do a search for cinematographers in Berlin and you will find them. Or Brazil — you will find them,” says Thomas Struck, Campus talent manager.

As a result of its direct connection to the industry, not to mention its wild parties, the Campus has become one of the festival’s most popular and crowded events.

Another big draw is the visiting filmmakers who coach participants on actual filmmaking. Last year, director–producer Walter Salles acted as mentor to young directors selected to take part in the Campus’ Talent Movie of the Week — a regular Campus project offering filmmakers the opportunity to make short films during the event and work with local production companies, like Berlinbased Sabotage Films.

Other notable participants have included Ken Adam, John Boorman, Christopher Doyle, Mike Figgis, Stephen Frears, Anthony Minghella, Walter Murch, Tom Tykwer and Wim Wenders.

This year, producer Jeremy Thomas (“Fast Food Nation”), cinematographer Doyle (“The Quiet American”) and editor Jim Clark (“Vera Drake”) are among the lecturers.

Another focus this year is editing. In addition to Clark, Angie Lam (“Seven Swords”) will be on hand to discuss cutting technique.

Culinary cinema is the general theme and the subject matter for participants’ short entry films. The best Campus shorts will not only screen at the Berlinale, they will win an invitation to the Slow Food on Film short film festival in the Italian city of Bra, birthplace of the slow-food movement, in April.

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