Film Festival Circuit: The Berlin International Film Festival

berlin film festival

In the frosty February climes of West Berlin, filmmakers and enthusiasts gather at the world’s largest publicly attended film festival in Berlin, Germany.  Founded in 1951, the festival (aka the Berlinale) is held simultaneously with the European Film Market –the major industry meeting for distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers and co-production agents.  Aside from being the most publicly accessible film festival, the Bernlinale is the first to offer a childcare program to accredited festival parents.

In traditional festival terms, there is plenty of competition to be had. The festival program is comprised of seven different competitive categories.  They are Competition for feature length films, Panorama for independent/arthouse films, Forum for experimental and documentaries, Generation for short and feature length films for children, Perspektive Deutsches Kino for German cinema, Berlinale Shorts for short films and Retrospective which features classic selections previously shown at the festival with a special focus on honoring the works of actors and directors in the course of a lifetime.

The highest prize awarded by the festival is the Golden Bear, which is given to the best film at the festival.  An honorary Golden Bear is also given as a lifetime achievement award.  The Silver Bear is granted to festival winners in the categories of Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Short Film, Outstanding Artistic Achievement and Best Film Music.  The Crystal Bear is awarded to the best children’s film section.  LGTB topic films can win a Teddy Award and young European filmmakers have the opportunity to win a Shooting Star Award.  The final three awards granted are the Audience Award, the Berlinale Camera and the Alfred Bauer Prize (named after the festival’s founder) for breakthroughs in cinematic art.

Past Golden Bear winners include French New Wave founder Jean-Luc Goddard (Alphaville, 1965), Ingmar Bergman (Wild Strawberries, 1958), Ang Lee (The Wedding Banquet, 1993) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, 2000).  Paul Thomas Anderson also won a Silver Bear for Best Direction in 2008 for There Will Be Blood.

In conjunction with its festival, the Berlinale brings together 300 rising talents and industry professionals within the international community for the Berlinale Talent Campus to help coach and establish the careers of young filmmakers. Projects of the Campus are presented online through their online campus community.  This year’s festival program will be announced on January 28th, 2013.

The Berlin International film festival offers many opportunities for future talents, emerging filmmakers and established industry professionals to come together and celebrate the art and business of the film industry in one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful cities.

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