The 69th Berlin Film Festival is currently taking place in the German capital. Forge’s very own Lisa Wehrstedt is there covering the festival, and she’s providing daily round-ups of her experiences at the iconic film event, known commonly as Berlinale. Here’s day two.
This second day of Berlinale has been a rollercoaster. I am currently writing this at 11pm and am already in my pyjamas, teeth brushed and ready for bed.
The day started later than yesterday. These four days in Berlin are my delayed end-of-exams vacation, so I refuse to do 9am screenings.
I rocked up at the festival at around 10am, explored a different press lounge today, and seeing the crowds around the ticket offices, tried to plan the next two days of film-watching. Successful with my planning – for the moment – I proceeded to my first morning screening at 12pm (yes, it is still morning if your workday goes up to 11pm).
In typical French cinema fashion, Grâce à Dieu (By the Grace of God, by François Ozon) was extremely wordy and way too real about societal issues. The film tells the real story of three male protagonists, all of whom have been victims of a sexual abusing priest in their youth. They come together after the first whistleblower comes out and they all find out how hard it is to fight a millenary institution that is reluctant to admit its mistakes.
The day didn’t get any lighter with System Crasher (Systemsprenger), an astounding first feature by director Nora Fingscheidt. It was as if the film sat me down and threw me to the screen, where he had me glued for the entire time, just to return me to my seat in the end, completely in pieces. I was wrecked by the story of little Benni, a 9-year-old girl whose psychotic anger incidents cause her to be removed from her mother and bounce from foster home to clinic.
It was at the end of that, while I was wondering around the festival still not completely recovered, that I realised that it was 6pm and I hadn’t got any tickets for the screenings I wanted to attend the next day. So, after trying to reschedule everything and being kicked out of the fancy lounge for bringing in my own salad like a pleb, I decided to do a double bill to end the day on a positive.
If you read carefully the first line of this diary entry you might begin to think that again, something did not go as planned. And you would be right.
I wasted the first half of the evening on a pointless film called The Plagiarists (by Peter Parlow). As a uni student the title intrigued me and gave me PTSD at the same time, so I decided I would just go for the 76 minute film. And I have to say that it was probably the weirdest thing I have seen at this festival so far. It is the classic film that you don’t understand what it is really about, and you think that someone more insightful than you must have seen something in it, and that’s why it’s been shown. But the film looks and sounds like a student film, and no student film should ever be shown to an audience, ever.
The film was trying to make a point about how we consumed media in the modern age, with its low-fi look referencing a better time where we consumed media and the media didn’t consume us. But it did it in a pretentious indie-film manner that did not connect with the audience, who started leaving in flocks after the first 2 minutes of film.
After suffering through all of that, I joined the line for one of the films in competition, Der goldene Handschuh (The Golden Glove), but the first room it was scheduled to be screened in was already full half an hour before it was supposed to start. I joined the queue for the additional screening they planned on the spot, but was about 10 spaces too late in the queue.
So I headed home, got ready for bed, and here we are full circle. This might be for the best – I have an early morning tomorrow. It is a 9am, but it is worth the early rise for the first roundtable interview of my life.
Oh, and I also got to walk on the red carpet at some point amid an actual red carpet event, but I can’t remember exactly when that was. Days are blurring together into one.