With 16 cinemas in total, most of the action is centred around Potsdamer Platz (Berlinale Palast, Cinestar, Cinemax, Arsenal), with a few other major spots, including Cubix on Alexanderplatz and the Colosseum in Prenzlauer Berg, sharing the spotlight. Don’t miss an opportunity to catch a special event at the Friedrichstadt Palast or take a peek at the freshly reopened Zoo Palast in City West, drawing back the Berlinale curtains for the first time since 2000.
- Competition: If your goal is to be blinded by the hype, then Competition is the section for you. The biggest films with the biggest budgets and the biggest stars. That doesn’t mean they’re all good, though. With no guaranteed hits, it’s up to you whether you catch them here or just wait for the general release.
- Panorama: Competition’s arthouse little sister, Panorama prides itself on taking slightly more offbeat films (although not that offbeat). It’s also kinda gay. So if you’re looking for that post-gender, queer hit about becoming one with your lover, this would be it.
- Forum: With few limitations on what can be presented, this section is a great place to catch indie works, experimental cinema and documentaries. Geeks who actually like mumblecore, take note.
- Generation (K+ and 14+): The general reaction to these friendly-sounding “youth” sections could best be described as “What?!” Not a lot of sex (an exception being this year’s 52 Tuesdays), but enough violence.
- The Teddy: The cuddly bear in a not-so-cuddly design by gay artist Ralf König is the prized booty for LGBT films at the Berlinale. Pedro Almodóvar and Gus Van Sant won the first awards in 1987; other winners include Todd Haynes, Derek Jarmen and Cheryl Dunye.
What makes the Berlinale special is that it’s a big festival for normal people – right here in the middle of our metropolis. Now that you know where to go, time to jump in the fray for tickets. There’s no need for fisticuffs... as long as you know what you’re doing.
- Make sure you set up an account on Berlinale. com well before the tickets go on sale. It will save you a precious two minutes.
- Be ready at exactly 10am three days (four days for Competition films) before a screening to buy your tickets – they’re gone with the wind shortly thereafter. And you can only purchase two for each screening.
- Unfortunately, you have to have a credit card (no EC allowed), so make sure you’ve got a financially versatile friend by your side.
- Tickets cost €13, but there’s also a €1.50 surcharge for online buyers.
- For those with patience or a smaller wallet, the Berlinale Kino Tag on February 16, also the last day of the fest, offers €6 tickets which are available immediately from February 3.
Potsdamer Platz is known to be a culinary wasteland. Your best bet is Lindner’s in the Arkaden, which offers decent wraps and sandwiches to go (we recommend the rocket-mozzarella wrap for €3). Or sit and grab yourself a hefty tuna or feta salad at Caras (€4.20) with excellent coffee to match. Dunkin’ Donuts is your next best bet – which says a lot. Keeping that in mind, maybe it’s just best to bring your lunch box!
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.