BERLIN – The box offices for Germany’s Berlinale film festival opened on Monday with scores of fans braving the cold in a bid to get their hands on the prestigious tickets for some 400 films set to be screened this week.
With three days to go before the launch of the international film festival, ticket hubs in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz awoke to queues of fans wrapped in sleeping bags hoping to get their hands on the sought-after “Competition” section tickets, the focal point of the festival featuring high-profile cinematographers and actors.
According to Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick, who will be leaving after the 69th edition of the festival having headed the event for the past 18 years, the public is the symbol of the festival’s identity.
In stark contrast to its more elitist French counterpart, the Cannes Film Festival, this event is for the people with screenings across 27 cinemas including the centrally located Berlinale Palast – the main headquarters of the event – to more remote locations scattered around the German city.
The festival is democratic in nature, as all events, including the glamorous galas, are available to those with enough patience to withstand the long queues.
Tickets go on sale three days before the movies are screened and are available at anywhere between 13-17 euros ($14.8-$19.5), and at a very affordable five euros for the youth section of the festival.
The tickets have increased in price by one euro since last year; however, organizers were confident the price hike would not deter Berliners nor visitors to the festival who have historically sold out the 300,000-ticket event.
Most people were after tickets for the iconic Competition section of the festival, although there are many other categories with a wealth of cinematic explorations to choose from, including the Berlinale Shorts; Panorama, which sees viewers become judges with the so-called audience award; Forum, the hub that celebrates film at its most avant-garde, testing aesthetic boundaries and conventions or Generation, featuring cinema for younger audiences.
Additional sections include Perspectives on German Cinema; Retrospective, with screenings of digitally-restored movies; Culinary Cinema; Berlinale Goes Kiez, which takes movies to smaller arthouse cinemas around the city; and NATIVe, which explores representations of Indigenous cultures from around the world.
There is also a so-called day of the spectator programmed for Feb. 16, an opportunity to view the highlights of the entire festival set to be re-run one week after the awards ceremony.
Danish director Lone Scherfig will open the festival on Thursday with her movie “The Kindness of Strangers” as part of the Competition section of the festival.
Among those presenting their films for contention are Competition veterans such as French director and screenwriter François Ozon, Chinese director Zhang Yimou, German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin and Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet.
The official section, although outside of the competition, would also include French screenwriter and director Andre Techine’s latest movie “L’adieu à la nuit” (Farewell to the Night) featuring fellow French legend Catherine Deneuve.
British actress Charlotte Rampling will be awarded the Honorary Golden Bear for her lifetime achievement.
The festival was set to host world premieres for 20 of the 23 selected movies to be shown.
The winners will be announced on Feb. 16 at the Berlinale Palast.