Berlin: Lunchtime Talk With Berlin Market Honcho Beki Probst

Berlin: Lunchtime Talk With EFM Honcho
Courtesy of the Berlinale

Beki Probst was a journalist in her native Turkey, the manager of a group of cinemas in Switzerland and is, of course, best-known as the director of the European Film Market, a post she’s held since 1988. She oversaw its move to Potsdamer Platz and the Martin Gropius Bau, and the expansion into the Marriot, and in 2014 she was named EFM’s president as Matthijs Wouter Knol is taking over the directorship this year.

Do you get to go out during the festival?

Oh yes. Many of my friends are here from abroad and I really take that time in the evenings to be able to meet with them, and sit and chat. And we are all no longer 20 so we’re not going to run out to the midnight screenings, and to have a nice meal and nice company at the end of the day, it’s really worth something.

Where do you like to go?

I am very busy at the market during the day so we usually stay around Potsdamer Platz and go to the Hyatt or to the Ritz. But if I go outside, I like Italian food, so it’s Sale e Tabacchi or Centolire.

What is your favorite restaurant story?

I have very good memories of (Fortissimo Films co-founder) Wouter Barendrecht, who was a big friend of mine. He had a tradition to go, the night before the market opening, to a Turkish restaurant, Hasir. We would go to the one at Hackischer Markt. I think Turkish food is a very rich cuisine but those restaurants here that are not German, sometimes they think they have to adjust to the local taste. I have been away from Turkey for such a long time, but I ordered something from the menu and I ordered it in Turkish. And the waiter looked at me, and then he said – in Turkish – “that’s not for you.” Which was a good point. So I changed my order.

What’s your day like during the festival?

I have a lot of meetings and people come by and say hello and we will sit and talk, and exchange ideas. Then later of course you go around in the market, you go to the stands and you meet the people. One part of the work is done. Now it’s more about your presence.

How have things changed for you since you started?

You know when I look back it seems so far away, you can’t even compare it. We used to be four or five people in the team and now we have over 30! Sometimes when we have our meetings I look around and I say, “Oh my God!” Back then we used to do all the market badges by hand!

Sale e Tabacchi
Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 25
Phone: +49 (0)30 252 950 03

Leipziger Strasse 125
Phone: +49 (0)30 206 250 83

Oranienburgerstrasse 4
Phone: +49 (0)30 280 416 16

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