We need to talk about the Berlinale

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Two cents

Dear David Mouriquand,

Thank you for your generally discussion-worthy and well-informed polemic.

Nevertheless, I would address some inaccuracies.

Firstly, the end of Kosslick's tenure is a given. The core issue now is rather that the process to select his successor is transparent, open to new blood, and fair. That's what the open letter was about.

Secondly, when you mention films that "should have been locked by the Berlinale", you should have specified "competition" (or maybe that word fell prey to subediting?) Call Me By Your Name, I Am Not Your Negro, The Wound and God's Own Country all screened in Panorama. For your readers it might also be helpful to mention the premiere requirements (some rather arcane) which dictate that competition-calibre films end up in the sidebars, recent examples being Sarah Polley's twice-Oscar nominated Away From Her and Frances Ha in Panorama or Winter's Bone and Snowpiercer in Forum. Yes, the Berlinale competition needs to regain its cachet, but sometimes it just makes more sense for North American productions like Away From Her to world-premiere at Sundance (meaning that the Canadian film had its international premiere there); at least Berlinale audiences got to see it in Panorama. Oversights like Son of Saul (and earlier ones like The Lives of Others - not that I particularly admired it, but should have been in competition) are unforgiveable.

For quite some time we colleagues who have been critically engaged with the festival for 25 years have been thinking about ways to rescue primarily the imperiled competition. Agree wholeheartedly with your suggestions to prune the program and avoid inter-sectional synergy effects that make highly efficient use of distinguished festival guests' time but seem labored, uninspired and downright incestuous (the Tom Tykwer-Weimar retro tie-in you cite is one of countless examples...). And yes, why isn't Maren Ade heading the jury? (Although Tykwer is a film-nerd with a catholic tastes and encyclopedic film knowledge, in his defense...)

Hoping along with you to see Isle of Dogs (just confirmed as opening film), Suspiria (Fassbinder-widow Ingrid Caven's participation increases its chances), Lady Bird, Nico 1988 (was at Orizzonti, but it's an Italian production, so Berlinale would be the international premiere) and other great films in competition and prepared to sift through the other sections' programs to find some nuggets.

Best regards!

Natalie Gravenor 138 days ago

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