Berlinale staple nurtures young talent

Since its launch in 2003, the Talent Campus has come a long way. Not only has it become an integral part of the Berlinale, it has also energized young filmmakers around the world and inspired other international festivals to set up their own Talent Campus events.

Talent Campus program manager Matthijs Wouter Knol says that after nearly a decade, the Campus is well established.

“The Talent Campus is really an all-around program right now and we are therefore focusing on content and on supporting filmmakers. We haven’t added any new stuff because we don’t need it.”

One thing the Campus is doing is exporting its know-how and its network of talent around the world.

Following its launch in Berlin, other Talent Campus projects sprung up early on at festivals in Kiev, Cape Town and Delhi. Current Campus International editions have since established themselves in Guadalajara, Buenos Aires, Durban and Sarajevo.

A new Asian Talent Campus is also set to launch this year, although the exact location has yet to be announced.

“We’ve been seeking a festival in Asia because it’s important for us to have a partner there as well,” Knol says.

While the international editions are locally funded and organized, Knol and his Berlin team assist with programming the events and also moderating sessions at the individual Campuses.

“We give them feedback, we give them ideas, we help them in finding a theme for the Campus, we suggest and ask experts that might be willing to attend and help our colleagues get in touch with them.”

While not as broadly international in scope as Berlin, all the other Campuses nevertheless have major regional focuses. Buenos Aires, for example, is open to filmmakers from throughout South America; the Mexican Campus focuses on Central America and the Caribbean; Durban is open to all African filmmakers and Sarajevo is open to filmmakers from Southeastern Europe, including Turkey and Greece.

Knol says the Campus has sought to strengthen and tighten the connections between all the Campus programs worldwide to form a more cohesive global network.

“For example, if we have a project that was in Durban last year and the filmmaker was selected for the Berlin program, we can continue to support and mentor the project. We can bring it to the attention of people in Berlin where it has a better chance of getting picked up by somebody simply because there are more people here or there might be representatives of funds that support projects from Africa.”

One of this year’s main topics is how young filmmakers can best position themselves, not only in the industry but also artistically, philosophically and politically.

“A demanding world asks for outspoken filmmakers who don’t just follow the rules, it needs a generation of filmmakers not afraid of assuming responsibility,” the Campus says in describing this year’s program.

In a show of support and solidarity with convicted Iranian director Jafar Panahi, the Berlinale is holding a number of initiatives dedicated to the filmmaker.

As part of those activities, the Campus and the World Cinema Fund are organizing a panel discussion with Iranian filmmakers on censorship and restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression in Iran. Iranian director and actor Rafi Pitts, whose film “The Hunter” screened in competition in Berlin last year, will be among the panelists.

Other guest panelists and lecturers include directors Wim Wenders and Andres Veiel, both of whom have films in the main Comeptition section, as well as Shekhar Kapur, Heddy Honigmann, Danis Tanovic and production designer Alex McDowell.

Wenders heads a panel on new horizons in 3D while Veiel and Honigmann will discuss the cross-pollination of documentary and feature filmmaking.

Kapur (“Elizabeth”) and McDowell look at new ways of creating cinematic worlds, while Bosnian filmmaker Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”) joins Israeli helmer Samuel Maoz (“Lebanon”) and Denmark’s Janus Metz (“Armadillo”) to discuss the challenges of capturing war on film.

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