58th Berlinale

Germany, February 7 - February 17 2008

The jury

Per Haddal (Norway), Jurica Pavicić (Croatia), Barbara Hollender (Poland), Göran Bjelkendal (Sweden), Hassouna Mansouri (Tunisia), Thomas Abeltshauser (Germany), Pablo Utin (Israel), Gulnara Abikeyeva (Kazakhstan), Elfriede Schmitt ()

Awarded films

It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest film events worldwide and Fest Head Dieter Kosslick manages to make it even bigger from one year to the next. He has enriched the four classical sections of Competition, Panorama, Forum and Retrospective with a series of additional sections, events, panels, showings of German films, hommages, a gigantic (but useful) Talent Campus… It is impossible to get a general idea of all the films and events as every visitor sees himself in the situation of having to compose his own festival. Kosslick managed as well to anchor the festival in the city of Berlin: the whole city celebrated, German television were reporting around the clock. The Kosslick-Berlinale is not only a film event but also a social event: glitz and glamour, red carpet, stars.

The central competition, however, posed more questions than it answered. To attract the media, Dieter Kosslick needs Hollywood, its bestsellers, its stars. This battle he won in an admirable way (with the Oscar campaign in the background, which provided some films like There Will Be Blood with even more attention). However, is it indeed necessary to include films which you will soon see in your local theater? Are such films worthy enough for this program? Kosslick seems to have, at least in this festival edition, a preference for actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Penélope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Julia Roberts, Tilda Swinton, not to mention Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones (opening), all of whom could be admired on the screen (and most of them also in natura). Kosslick has as well a preference for political themes (which was at the end honored by Constantin Costa-Gavras and his jury): The Elite Squad (José Padilha, Golden Bear) and Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, Silver Bear).

A small observation. Three European directors who had started their careers with promising debuts, continued their work in the States or at least with English-language films: Isabel Coixet (Elegy), Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, the closing film), and Erick Zonca (Julia).

The retrospective presented Luis Buñuel — a welcome occasion for a younger generation to get acquainted with the work of one of the masters of cinema. An hommage was also dedicated to Francesco Rosi. (k.e.)