The 74th Berlinale has begun! Berlin’s legendary film festival – one of the “big three of Europe”, along with Cannes and Venice. Hundreds of films will be shown for 10 days – from February 15 to 25 – attracting film lovers and stars from around the world.
You’ve survived Berlin’s notoriously grey winter and the festival is here as the light at the end of the tunnel. The good news is that the Berlinale is one of the most audience-centric festivals in the world. That means plenty of chances for you to get involved, but things can still be confusing. We’ve summarised the most important info here regarding tickets, venues and categories.
Tickets and prices
The festival sells tickets to individual screenings on its website. The tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, starting at 10:00 three days before the particular screening. The biggest films often sell out quickly, but tickets to sold-out shows often become available again (especially in the hour before the screening begins). There is a limit to two tickets per screening (a maximum of 5 for any Generation performances) and you can buy them both online and in person from box offices connected to the Eventim system.
To have the best odds at getting a ticket, we suggest queuing in the online shop before 10:00
The Berlinale is remarkably accessible for a major film festival: anyone can buy tickets to the festival screenings (barring a handful of events for the industry and press). Most tickets can be purchased for between €10 and €18, with reduced ticket prices for qualifying groups as well (ticket details here). To have the best odds at getting a ticket, we suggest heading to the online shop before 10:00.
The festival will show all of its films across 8 different sections and a mutable number of special presentations. Some of the sections are self-explanatory (shorts, classics, etc…) but it’s useful to have a basic knowledge of the bigger sections to understand what type of film is shown in each:
The competition is the centre of the entire festival. One of the films screened here will come home with the coveted Golden Bear prize – given by the competition jury to the best overall film. Lots of attention is placed on the competition films, which tend to be bigger budget than the rest of the sections. This is the section with the stars, the red carpet and the most excitement.
Forum & Forum Expanded
Forum is the place for daring, avant-garde cinema. This is where artists and filmmakers examine the medium of film and create challenging art; often, screenings here often feel more like art instillations than traditional cinema.
Panorama is more art-house than the competition section, but bigger budget than forum. Expect a batch of exciting, innovative films that please the crowd. The best part: the audience is the jury, so you get the chance to vote for the winner of the section.
A full list of festival sections can be found here.
So, what are the programme highlights this year? Some early standouts include Cillian Murphy’s new headlining film ‘Small Things Like These’ – an adaptation of Claire Keegan’s novel by the same name- and Rose Glass’ romantic thriller ‘Love Lies Bleeding’, starring Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brien.
For the entire festival programme, check here.
The heart of the festival is the Berlinale Palast on Potsdamer Platz. This venue is where the competition films are premiered, and it’s the location of the Berlinale Special Gala. So, if you want to see a star – this is the place. Potsdamer Platz is home to several other festival venues, so it’s often thought of as the central Berlinale location.
The Berlinale is also an opportunity to step inside some of Berlin’s grand, historic kinos. The Zoo Palast, built in 1957, was once the main venue, but it will have several public screenings this year. Kino International is a beautiful example of socialist modern architecture, and will also be screening several films. Read more about historic Berlin cinemas. For a full list of venues, check the official website.