WANDA at the Berlinale
With support through Film Hub NI's bursary scheme, Rose Baker and Laura O'Connor from WANDA attended this year's Berlinale, and report here on what it's like to be first timers at one of Europe's premiere film extravaganzas.
As WANDA had such a successful 2018 edition we felt it important that we attend international festivals as a mission to programme our next festival. We attended the Berlinale between 7th-10th Feb, which were the opening four days.
With our accreditation we were only able to attend the European Film Market on 7th Feb, which we did once we arrived. At the Screen Ireland stand we met filmmaker Siobhan Cleary of Rebel Sister Films who advised us of a round table discussion #CallToAction by Pro Quote Films on gender quotas and the 50/50 by 2020 campaign. The event was being held on Friday the 8th at the Federal Foreign Office at 11am.
We queued on the Friday morning for our cinema tickets for Saturday screenings* and then made our way to the Pro Quote event. The event was opened by Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office followed by an inspirational keynote by the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute Anna Serner. This event was attended by advocates for gender equality in film from around the globe, however it was noted that a majority of the speakers were western European (another issue needed to be addressed). It was inspiring to attend this conference and learn about data collection and the current statistics in film making in other countries, however much work needs to be done.
The pledge for 50/50 by 2020 was then signed by attendees and throughout the festival the organisation held events and public signings including one with Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick.
We also attended the launch of the Jury for the 33rd TEDDY Awards at the Berlinale. The TEDDY awards are the official queer awards at the Berlinale and it was great to attend the event and speak to some of the jurors.
On Saturday we spent our time in cinemas. We watched Serendipity a documentary by artist Prune Nourry and her journey through breast cancer treatment. In Nourry’s practice she creates bodily sculptures and researches anatomy and human experience, 8 years prior to her breast cancer diagnosis she had spent time in an oncology ward looking at bioethics and treatments for cancer.
This film follows her own diagnosis and cathartic journey to sculpting her body both sculpturally and physiologically. We also attended the premiere of Japanese director Hikari’s feature debut 37 Seconds, a film of self-discovery of ‘Yuma’ a 23-year old manga artist with cerebral palsy. The film is humorous and touching and a great example of how to make a film about someone with a disability played by an actor with the disability. The film went on to win the Audience award at the festival.
In the NATIVe-Indigenous film section we viewed Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen by Hepi Meta. This film tells the story of Merata Meti a Maori female filmmaker whose controversial documentaries exposed the injustices experienced by indigenous people globally. Not knowing of her work before this documentary was extremely insightful and powerful.
As this was the first time either of us attended the Berlinale the trip was an insight as to how the festival works, how big it is and how long you really need to get the most out of it. The sheer volume of films shown and the diversity of the films at Berlinale highlighted to us how important this festival is to our programming and how in the future we will aim to spend longer at it. For our first attendance we are delighted to have had the experience and thank Film Hub for the opportunity.
*At Berlinale the ticket desk opens at 8.30am and you must queue at 7.30am the morning before the screenings you want to get tickets for.
Film Hub NI offers bursary support for programming and career development. Find out more about our services here.