Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick discusses this year’s festival, the best emerging cinema and the impact of digital on indies with Variety’s Ed Meza.



Variety: Where is the most exciting modern cinema coming from at the moment?
Kosslick: Asia and Latin America have long been strong film regions, but smaller countries in Eastern Europe, such as Romania and Hungary, have made new inroads into world cinema in the last 10 years. Last year Bence Fliegauf was successful with his wonderful “Just the Wind” and Bela Tarr in 2011 with “The Turin Horse” at the Berlinale. In 2010, a Silver Bear went to the Romanian selection “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” by Florin Serban. The same goes for Russia. Aleksey Popogrebskiy’s “How I Ended This Summer” in 2010 won several awards.This year the Berlinale competition also very clearly reflects the creative potential of the former Eastern Bloc. Poland, Romania, Bosnia and Russia have great directing talents that tell powerful, cinematically impressive stories. In U.S. indie cinema, we have also discovered a new generation of interesting filmmakers. James Franco as a director, actor and producer is extremely active and creative, as is director Noah Baumbach, who is presenting “Frances Ha” in Panorama, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt with “Don Jon’s Addiction.” Korean cinema is still fertile ground for auteur filmmakers like Hong Sang-soo, who will be in competition with his new work “Nobody’s Daughter Haewon.”



Variety: How has the digitization of film impacted cinema?
Kosslick: Digitization has resulted in the democratization of filmmaking. This is a good thing. Shooting a movie today is easier and less expensive. This does not necessarily have to lead to a loss of artistic quality. The special quality of a movie does not always require a technical, visual perfection.



Variety: To what extent have submissions to the festival’s various sections increased due to the proliferation of low-budget digital filmmaking and to what extent does the festival and its programmers bend the level of criteria in accepting some of these films?
Kosslick: In recent years there has been a huge increase in submissions. In the past two to three years, the number has leveled off at around 6,300 films per year. It’s a big challenge for the curators to go through that kind of volume. Digital filmmaking is now established among experienced directors as well as young filmmakers. Our aesthetic and qualitative criteria do not change when films emerge from a different production process. A good movie remains a good movie.



Variety: There are so many great films that screen at the Berlinale that never find theatrical distribution. How do you feel about streaming Berlinale films on VOD or for a paid subscription price on the Internet?
Kosslick: VOD is naturally a topic at the Berlinale, but at the moment a commercial VOD offering is something we see in a more medium-term perspective. It is important to offer a platform to young unknown filmmakers in order to present their films to the world. This happens at festivals such as the Berlinale, but it can also happen through innovative platforms. VOD can be such a platform because access is easier and a lot of barriers are removed in advance. The nice thing about film festivals, however, is that we give the young unknown filmmakers and their work a chance to appear in a movie theater before an audience. We see again and again the importance of interaction between filmmakers and audiences. The discussions with the audience after the festival screenings are extremely popular.


And I think the cinema experience is still something very special. With our new partner Samsung, we have already broken new ground this year. Samsung has initiated a short film competition and invited six filmmakers recommended by Berlinale section heads to make short films.


Samsung will present the films to the public for the first time during the Berlinale at the Babylon cinema on Feb. 9 and afterwards they will be put to the vote on the Internet.


We might also consider certain types of digital distribution for festival films with Samsung.




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