How to do the Berlinale – an insider’s tips

Some advice from a seasoned veteran on “How to do the Berlinale”

It’s February in Berlin and that means The Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, known as the Berlinale, and it’s dominating the face of my town writes Sabine Koch, guest contributor.

During the 10 days of films, parties, markets you can get a glimpse of the world of international cinema, talk to people in the business and have fun. Most people go for the obvious: the competition and the screening of those movies at the Berlinale Palast, usually with lots of international stars on the red carpet. But actually, that’s not what the Berlinale is about – at least not for me!

Berlinale logo

This festival is so wonderful, because it allows the everyperson to experience interesting visions from all around the world and meet the people making them or just loving them.

So here are 4 simple tips to make your Berlinale worthwhile:

Berlinale Ticket Booth

Berlinale Ticket Booth

1) There are many different channels to acquire tix – use them all and then some. Be it the internet, the central ticket sales or the daily box office at the venue, chances are you will be successful. And even if your film is sold out, try to go to the cinema one hour in advance of the screening. In most cases there will be someone who overbooked and wants to get rid of tix. It’s also a great way to meet other film fans with a built-in companion. Just this Sunday I scored a ticket from a lovely Italian lady who wanted to give me her spare one for free even, but after a little bit of negotiation I convinced here to take half price – 2 Euros!


go for the tiny women or the slouchy guys

2) When you take your seat be prudent! It might not be the best idea to choose a seat because there are empty seats in front of you. Most films will be sold out or close to sold out and inevitably there will come a basketball player or lady with very high hair to take the seat right in front of you. Stake your claim by looking for the tiny women or the slouchy guys and take the seat behind them. Look at the perfect example I encountered a few days back – I should have gotten the number of that guy to have him sit or rather lie in front of me for the remainder of the festival.

unusual venues

unusual venues

3) Try to go visit the venues, that are not “normal” movie theatres. For example, if you go to the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, you will not only see a movie, but a Berliner landmark as well.

4) Walk of the beaten paths, go for the other sections – the Panorama, the Forum, the specials and my personal favourite: the Generation Section! Not only are the tickets much cheaper (starting at €4.00 Euros a tix), you will most certainly see extremely interesting films, and in the case of the Generations Section, have a chance for Q&As with the film makers.

Confetti Harvest at Berlinale

“So exactly how much confetti did you have to make for your film? “

What can beat lovely young people, who mostly have never been abroad, to present their work, being faced with a standing ovation by an adoring public – heart warming. And the questions of the very young audience can be a hoot too, example for the Dutch film Confetti Harvest: how much confetti did you have to make for your film – best question ever. Cast and director of Confetti Harvest at the Q&A after the screening.

As any Berliner or guest will tell you: Berlin can be harsh and brutal, especially during winter time, but with open eyes and interest in every film and the people who make them and watch them, you will have a brilliant Berlinale-time.

Berlinale bear

some stars on the red carpet

Thanks so much to our guest contributor Berliner, Sabine Koch, a cultural tour de force who is a producer and production coordinator for German TV shows Artelounge and European Film Award and international concert productions such as NY Philharmonic in Pyongyang.

Sabine has seen around 4000 movies so far – and believes strongly that films are made to be seen on the big screen and not on a dingy TV.

So there you have it – happy movie watching.


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