IIFF TEAM AT THE BERLINALE 2015!
Exploring the world of film
by Karen Mukwasi, Program Coordinator, International Images Film Festival for Women
“Have you ever been to the Berlinale?” You come across this question so many times you can’t help thinking that maybe it’s regarded as benchmark in the film industry. So for myself and and International Images Film Festival (IIFF) director Yvonne Jila it was like embarking on a rite of passage. Having two veterans of the Berlinale, IIFF founder Tsitsi Dangarembga and Technical director Olaf Koschke, as part of our team made it less daunting.
On 5th of February, the date of arrival, armed with our accreditation letters and the Berlin underground map we made our way to Potsdamer Platz to find the Martin Gropius Bau to register for the festival. The first impression getting there was, the world is here, everyone has come for the Berlinale. It was a mixed crowd that queued to get their badges but everyone spoke a common language, film.
The hardest thing we had to do was to queue for our tickets the following day. We had been warned about the vicious Berlin winter during festival time, what we encountered on that day was worse than the warnings. The festival is serious business, no sleeping in by eight in the morning we were at the service with hundreds of other filmmakers and film lovers. It was a long winding queue outside in the cold but we braved it and two hours later we had hour tickets.
You explore the city through the festival, you relate to it through the different venues. Every Berliner we came across expressed how proud they are of the festival. Venues are scattered across the city and each has its own character. At the Delphi and Akademie der Künste filmmakers, students and journalists all gathered to watch films after films discussions were intense. The glamour you would find at the Audi lounge were young women gathered hoping to spot celebrities on the red carpet.
The Berlinale is more than festival, it is a unique experience. We could have easily spent all our days at the hopping trains to watch films in the large state of the art cinemas but of course we had to work. The main business was to find suitable films for IIFF. The business was conducted at the European Film Market. It was good to scout the film years.
A highlight was hotline, a documentary by Israeli Filmmaker Silvina Landsman. This film questions the treatment of African refugees by the Israeli government. After the screening we met Ms. Landsman who bring related to us how she had followed hotline activists to a variety of locations and came up with disturbing evidence. She expressed how much she wanted to bring the documentary to Africa. We hope IIFF is one of the festivals that will play in bringing this very strong film to our continent. It is an important film as it shows Africans the reality of becoming refugees in a foreign land.
IIFF AT THE BERLINALE
A big disappointment was the absence of authentic African films in the program. All films about Africa were sad films about a continent that has not fared well in the globalization era. Berlinale is one of the biggest film showcases in the world and it is important for Africa to be well represented there. Regardless of this, being there was an important experience. It provided a new insight into film festivals. A film festival is about a combination of factors. It is about atmosphere, it is about people, but most of all it is about film.
Watch out for films straight from the Berlinale program at IIFF 2015.