Talent takes bite of Apple

New sponsor, topper boost Campus

Celebrating its fifth year, the Berlinale’s Talent Campus faces some major changes in 2007 as the educational platform continues to adapt to new challenges.

New this year: the campus’ director, filmmaker-journalist Dorothee Wenner; location at Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer theater complex; and a sponsorship deal with computer/iPod company Apple.

The third director since the launch of the campus, Wenner takes over from Cathy Rohnke, who was last year’s interim director after Christine Dorn ankled the post for a career in motherhood.

A longtime Berlinale insider, Wenner has served on the selection committee of the fest’s Intl. Forum of New Cinema section since 1990 and also works as the Berlinale’s special representative for India and sub-Saharan Africa. She also headed an EU-funded project — Import Export: Cultural Transfer Between India and Germany, Austria — before becoming Talent Campus director last summer.

In view of her strong personal interest in Indian and African film, Wenner sees the campus as another opportunity for young filmmakers from those regions and other underrepresented areas to share their experience with fellow film enthusiasts from the rest of the world.

“I feel very strongly about this. It’s difficult to have a truly international festival when so many regions are ignored. This is a wonderful opportunity to support filmmakers in places like Congo, Botswana and Bolivia, by helping them meet filmmakers from other parts of the world and encouraging greater international opportunities.”

Wenner says a regular changing of the guard and infusions of fresh blood are vital for the Talent Campus in order to continually offer young filmmakers a relevant look at the international film industry.

After half a decade, the campus is not only examining new trends, such as the growing significance of the Internet as a distribution platform and the creative potential of videogames, but also embracing more mature and timely subject matter.

With the slogan “Home Affairs — Privacy, Films and Politics,” this year’s campus is dedicated to the search for cultural identity in an increasingly global — and globalized — film industry. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with film pros and industry experts to discuss strategies and opportunities.

Hip new partner Apple Computer will sponsor the new Garage Flick project. On each day of the campus, participants will produce a digital short film that will be instantaneously and exclusively presented on the Internet with the support of Apple.

The Garage Flicks podcasts will be available on the campus Web site and from the iTunes Store directly after completion. Additional podcasts created by an Apple film team will capture select campus events and interviews with both participants and visiting experts.

Taking place for the first time in Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer theater complex, the campus will offer a Working Campus studio equipped with Apple hardware where participants will produce their one-day pics.

Among this year’s campus patrons is Chinese director Jia Zhangke, whose “Still Life” won last year’s Golden Lion in Venice.

The campus also has invited participants to tackle, in short films, the weighty subject of democracy as part of the “Why Democracy?” film project produced by South African-based production and distribution org Steps Intl. and German pubcasters ZDF and Arte.

Designed to stimulate a global debate, the “Why Democracy?” doc series will be broadcasted in October on more than 25 nets, including the BBC, CBC in Canada, German-French Arte, SBS in Oz, NHK in Japan, SABC in South African and Al-Jazeera. Short films taking part also will be uploaded onto the Web site WhyDemocracy.net and distributed to film festivals, schools and institutions.

In order to offer a better and more focused program and greater attention to individual participants, the campus has downsized the number of invited participants from 500 to 350.

“In this case, less really is more,” says Wenner, adding that the lower number will make for a better overall program by making the campus more manageable and efficient.

The campus kicks off Feb. 10 with the Berlin Today Award, presented to the winner of its short film competition; all the films must relate to Berlin. Finalists are: “Shanty Garden Town,” helmed by Guillaume Giovanetti (France) and Cagla Zencirci (Turkey); “The Great Water Battle,” helmed by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz (Poland) and Andrew Friedman (U.S.); and animated film “The Woolen Hat,” helmed by Rhoda Kawinga (Zambia).

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