5 Myths of Berlinale

Tickets queue at Potsdamer Arkaden

Another year of Berlinale, another great time with the festival. Intense two weeks as usual. Organizing which movies I wanted to see, getting the tickets, running around town to get to the venues. It’s one of the reasons why I love living in Berlin!

This is my 5th time doing the Berlinale. (Yeah, I didn’t realize it’s been that long either… I just keep track from the bags.) I realized this year, there are some myths going around about this festival, which is kind of too bad because I think it’s a festival for all the movie goers in Berlin. So if you’ve been putting off it because of these myths, I hope you’ll rethink it next year!

1. It’s impossible to get tickets to Berlinale.

It could be hard, but it’s not impossible. Just like any other great events that needs tickets. Online tickets are almost impossible to get, that’s true (unless you’re used to this process of knowing exactly when to click buy). But luckily in Berlinale there are allocations of amounts for tickets sold on each venues. So, when one sold out, the others might still be available. Here’s how you can get them:

  • Online through www.berlinale.de. Toughest one to get, most convenient because you can just be in your pyjamas/office/warmth of a building. Extra 1.5 € charge per ticket.
  • Queuing at the pre-sale booth. Most chance to get one, depending on the day, you could queue up to 3-4 hours. It’s also a fun chance to bond with other movie goers (usually pensioners). If you really wanted a certain ticket, be there at least 1-2 hours before the booth opens (10am). There’s no extra charge per ticket, might be worth thinking if you’re getting more than 10 tickets.
  • Go to an eventim booth, usually called Konzertkasse and the likes. They have a limited allocation of tickets too. No lines, and usually still available after the other two options are sold out. They charge 2 € per ticket, and an extra 1-1.5 € for going at a person in a booth. Which is why I always avoid this option when possible.
  • At the cinema on the day of showing. If it’s a sold out movie, make sure you get there as early as possible. They do seem to have another different allocation for this, so there’s still hope.
  • Especially nearing the end of Berlinale, you could also find people selling their tickets. Most of them are actually selling it at a normal price. Usually they just realized they had conflicting time schedule or a friend of theirs cancelled out.

2. There are only arthouse movies.

Not true. There are plenty of great storytelling going on here. While it is true that it is not usually a place for big bang no brainer Hollywood blockbusters, that doesn’t mean the filmmakers are less great and entertaining. Also it gave me a certain satisfaction when I could actually see the filmmakers on stage, answering your questions. It made me root for the movie even more. Or perhaps getting a signed poster of the movie!

3. It’s overwhelming to look through the program.

Of course it is. There are around 400 movies showing this year, and to be honest I also never read all the programs. I know I run the risk of missing a couple of great movies, but we all only have limited time and resources ;). Some of my tips are:

  • Berlinale movies are divided into sections. Every section has their own characteristics, for instance, the Generation would be movies for the younger audience from 4-17 years old. Usually there’s lots of fun movies there from all over the world. If you’re into the high profile ones, definitely check out the Competition section. Or documentary, and so on.
  • Go through countries section. I’m always interested in movies from Southeast Asia or Japan, because it’s quite rare to find them in local cinemas. I also somehow tend to like Italian, Swedish, and Norwegian movies, so I could just go and filter by country.
  • Or if you have only a certain time you can go, then look for the timetable and which movies are available for the time slot.
  • Do register and make use of their time planner. It’s a very useful tool for planning your schedule. And remember to allocate time running from one venue to another.
  • If you’re indecisive, you can also go to the Publikumpreise section where they will show a winning movie from the festival.

4. Languages are only in French/English/German.

As you see from my note before, this is actually a great place to find film from all over the world. As an Indonesian living in Berlin, I always love to see Indonesian movies and how the audience perceived them. There’s always nuances that you think was normal and people would see it as very bizarre. Also if you don’t speak German, don’t worry, there’s a lot of movies with English subs as well. Do look for the subtitle notes though!

5. Everyone dies in the end.

While there is a saying that you haven’t really been to Berlinale if you haven’t seen a truly depressing movie there, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. True, Berlin in February is a great backdrop for such things, but if you do a bit of research on the synopsis, you could definitely avoid it.

Again, the Generation section is full of delightful stuff. Trust your instinct, if you like the synopsis and the pictures, go for it. Sometimes if you’re unlucky and still get to such movie, just enjoy it, at least you’ve been to a true Berlinale movie. Besides, we are all going to die in the end. If it doesn’t justify the ending, then it’s the storyteller’s fault :D.

Signed movie poster by the director, Saschka Unseld. Thank you <3
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  1. Wulfette February 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Envy!! And this is such a wonderful article, though I’m used to seeing international film festivals, lots of the information is really good to know, especially where to get the tickets and how to read the program πŸ™‚ Again… envy!!! πŸ˜‰ signed posters and all!

    1. astrid February 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you :-). I think Berlinale film festival is one of the biggest one with around 300.000 tickets sold this year. It’s just amazing to see a lot of people running around to catch a screening. Movie lovers FTW ;-). And yeah being able to see the director isn’t bad either ;-).

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