Berlinale

Echoing throughout the concrete of the subway between Stadtmitte and Potsdamer Platz is a young man slamming out a guitar chord like it owes him money and singing out “I want to see the movies of my dreams.” His droning twang sounds more like it was unearthed from the soil of North Carolina, but the Euro coins in his case and the writing on the wall prove he’s in Berlin. His sentiment is a powerful and timely one as the red signs everywhere shout out the presence of the Berlin International Film Festival. Just a dozen feet above that young man’s head is the shuffle of mud-covered feet swishing through snow as more of it falls on the ground. An ice cream parlor is inexplicably still open and doing good business nearby. It’s 21 degrees outside, but it feels like 8, and that creates a kind of energy. People are moving quickly to both to keep up with the lazy first day rush and to keep their bits from freezing off. Maybe that will make getting into a darkened (and heated) theater all the sweeter. At least that’s the hope on the largely movie-less, paper work-heavy start to the Berlinale.

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So you can’t afford the plane ticket (or you’re afraid they’ll show Mr. Popper’s Penguins on your cross-Atlantic flight). So you can’t stand to wait outside in freezing temperatures. So you can’t figure out why an international film festival is showing A Prairie Home Companion in a one-film Robert Altman retrospective. So what? That’s why we here at FSR are going to do all that for you. In 24 hours, I’ll be boarding a train, and 6 hours after that I’ll arrive at the apartment where I’ll sleep on Tim League’s floor for a week, catching all of the strange, the challenging, and the Oscar-worthy films of the future right here in the cold as hell country of Fritz Lang, Werner Herzog and Uwe Boll. That’s right sports fans, it’s the Berlin International Film Festival (also affectionately known as the Berlinale). It’s my first time, so we might all feel a little pinch, but I go undaunted into the morass of venues, celebrity sightings and movies in search of the flicks that demand to be cheered and shared. Coverage starts Thursday and will head on into next week. Berlin! It’s like Cannes except colder and more Prussian! Aren’t you glad you can experience it from home?

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