I am at the 57th Berlin Film Festival (aka Berlinale) for four days (en route from Egypt back to San Francisco). I believe there are about 19,000 movie industry professionals here from around the world. Some of the super-duper huge celebs include: Clint Eastwood (promoting "Letters from Iwo Jima"), Robert de Niro and Matt Damon ("The Good Shepherd"), and Richard Gere (promoting peace).
Celeb high point for me was a brief conversation with actor Steve Buscemi ("Fargo," "Ghost World," "Big Fish") when I asked him if the Sopranos were going to bring him back to life for the final season. He smiled and said, "Even if I were, you know I couldn't tell you."
About 180,000 tickets will be sold to approximately 300 different films from around the world.
These are some of the films I've seen so far.
The best is "The Bubble" (poster with cast at left). It's an Israeli production about a gay relationship between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian man in Tel Aviv. It's funny, poignant, highly amusing, riveting, and ultimately tragic. After the screening, the film's director, Eyton Fox (director of "Walk on Water"), and co-star, Yousef Sweid, took questions from the 700 person audience. I highly recommend this film. (It has just been released on DVD in the US.)
Another enjoyable film is "Woman on the Beach" from South Korean director Sang-soo Hong ("Woman is the Future of Man"). It's about four thirty-something Koreans who go to a seaside resort in Korea and confront their feelings of love and betrayal. Interesting window into another culture.
I also saw the French documentary "Lagerfeld Confidential" by Rudolphe Marconi. Takes you into the world of Chanel and haute couture icon and super designer Karl Lagerfeld (shown at left). Fascinating stuff. The audience loved it!
Part of the retrospective section was "The Elegant Life of Mr. Everyman," a 1963 Japanese film from director Kihachi Okamoto, which dealt with the life of a "Salaryman" and his mixed feelings about World War II and Japan's post-war prosperity.
I love coming to Berlin (my first visit was in 1973 during the Cold War). I remember just enough of my college German to get around, and festival audiences are always friendly!