Last night the 69th Berlin Film Festival kicked off in the German capital. Forge’s very own Lisa Wehrstedt is there covering the festival, and she will be providing daily round-ups of her experiences at the iconic film event, known commonly as Berlinale. Here’s day one.


The first day of Berlinale is over and, oh my God, what a way to kick it off.

The morning was spent scouting out all the different buildings the festival will be held in. Just off Potsdamer Platz, an entire street has transformed into a paradise for all cinephiles for the next 10 days. Walking up to the Berlinale Palast – where things are still being set up for the opening ceremony, which will take place on the first night of the festival – hotels, casinos and a gigantic multiplex are beginning to be filled with thousands of film fans.

After settling down in the very fancy press lounge at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, I started looking at the uber-complicated programme and realised rather quickly that my accreditation alone would not get me far. Apparently, you need a new coupon sheet every day, to then bring to the ticket office to exchange for free tickets, but only if you have the right pass and if the screening is not already listed in the press screenings programme.

It’s quite a mouthful, but as with any other German system, once you get it, you realise that it makes perfect sense. So, armed with my three programme booklets, two coupon sheets and the one ticket I managed to get, I ventured into an afternoon of screenings.

First on the list was The Kindness of Strangers, an internationally co-produced film by Danish director Lone Scherfig. As the first film to be screened of those in competition, it set the bar very high for all other films to come: one minute I was bawling my eyes out at such heart-wrenching drama and the next I was laughing blissfully at awkward sit-com type sketches.

Then, as usual for festivals, came a selection of films chosen by the criteria of “there is nothing else to see, might as well”. And judging by the queues, many other festival attendees used my same criteria in planning their day of screenings.

Overall it was quite a slow start to the festival. As we approach the first weekend and people slowly arrive to Potsdamer Platz, we should see some more interesting films and the juicy festival scandals will hopefully also start spreading.


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