Maryanne Redpath: Making Berlin safe for young cineastes

Youth Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Chaperones

Impact: The Generation topper provides a platform for edgy pics featuring young talent.
Next: “Strengthen our relationship with the European Film Market and our partners in the industry.”
Causes: Generation’s Young Journalists project, which invites junior critics to cover the fest.

Some sprocket operas cater specifically to kids, like Giffoni and the Chicago Intl. Children’s Film Fest. Others, including Tribeca and Toronto, select a handful of innocuous films specifically for young auds. But by far the most provocative lineup of youth-focused cinema can be found in the Generation section of Europe’s biggest film fest, the Berlinale, and the woman responsible is Maryanne Redpath.

Hailing from New Zealand, Redpath began working for the Berlinale’s Kinderfilmfest section (as it was then known) in 1993 as an assistant to then-director Renate Zylla. She became co-director with Thomas Hailer in 2002 and six years later was appointed sole head of the section.

Liberated from the premieres-only rule of the Berlinale’s main sections, Generation has in recent years earned a reputation as the fest’s best-programmed, most rewarding strand section, as Redpath and her team scour the globe for challenging new work. This has led to some tough, thematically outre selections — as one U.K. buyer put it, “films more about kids than for them” — and also a few coups. This year’s lineup, for example, saw the European preem of Zhang Yimou’s “Under the Hawthorn Tree” and well-regarded U.S. indie “Jess + Moss,” hot on the heels of its Sundance bow.

While attendances are strong (60,000 visitors in 2010), Generation selections tend to be overshadowed by bigger names in the main program. And the decision to base the event in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, in the Tiergarten, gives Generation a home of its own — but also distances it from the main festival, over a mile away in Potsdamer Platz.