So, I’ve reached the halfway point of my stay, the rain has started to come down and there are only two days of the excellent Talent Campus left. That might sound a little downbeat but the truth is that things are just dandy!
The morning lecture at the Talent Campus is a talk called Dreaming Reality with Wim Wenders, Andreas Dresden and Emily Atef; all great directors and an interesting foil for discussion. That’s the problem though, it just kind of feels like a foil for each director to talk about their work -which is all very well -but I’m disappointed not to see them really digging into the subject matter. It’s not a huge gripe though, they’ve all got a lot of illuminating things to say and the clips that are shown are great, particularly the work of Atef and Dresden.
Afterwards I head up to the cafÃ© and drink way too much black coffee, read some bumph and get the shakes. Twitching and tapping my feet I head down for the next talk, Janusz Kaminski: Anatomy Of The Shot. On the way in I bump into a Dutch guy I crewed with on a short in London and his German friend. This really encompasses the kind of place the festival is for me; people you know, people you don’t, from all over the world, getting together and getting really excited about making films. Everyone is open, friendly and enthused by the speakers -for the most part -the atmosphere is pretty good as Kaminski comes on stage. I hadn’t quite realised how important this guy was until they start reading out some of his filmography -Diving Bell and The Butterfly, Schindlers List, Saving Private Ryan, Jerry Maguire -he’s quite simply one of the biggest DOP’s in the industry.
I also happen to think that he’s one of the best storytellers within cinematography; if you look at Diving Bell And The Butterfly particularly (but also the opening 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan), he’s just one of the best out there when it comes to placing the audience emotionally within the narrative and also pushing it forward. He rocks! He’s also down to earth and funny and the audience lap him up.
A particularly interesting section is when he goes through a load of tests that he shot for Butterfly. It’s great to get an insight into how he arrives at the final image. A particular highlight is when he lays the smackdown on two people in quick succession when they ask him about digital technology and the RED camera (you’d think the second guy would have thought better). It’s not that I don’t like digital -on the contrary it gives filmmakers who are starting out a chance they maybe didn’t have in the past, without it I could only have made a tiny fraction of the films I have -but I’m sick of people who prioritise technology over storytelling. And that’s Kaminski’s whole schtick -the story is the most important thing in the film, everything and everyone is just serving that.
There’s an interesting evening talk about how cinema has shaped our understanding of our history, featuring apparently one of the most important documentary filmmakers in the last decade; Patricio Guzman and Bosnian director, Jasmila Zbanic.
It’s good but the there’s a bit of a translator fail and it holds them back from really getting into the subject.
An interesting theme re-emerges that also cropped up in the Tilda Swinton talk and this mornings, Dreaming Reality. The question being, how important is cinema? Can it change the world? Can it change people’s lives and opinions?
The Bosnian director, who won the Golden Bear here a couple of years ago, says that as a result of the media coverage her film was given they changed a law in Bosnia that had previously not allowed rape victims from the Serbian conflict to be recognised as victims of war. I’m not quite sure what the full implications of that are but I think in this case cinema did really make a difference. How often that happens though, I don’t really know.
Met a couple of interesting New York-based documentary makers in the bar after, they’ve invited us to the EFM screening of their short tomorrow, which should be interesting. I’ll let you know if it’s any good.
I’m off to try and blag my way into the British Council party now, I’m not sure if they’d even let me into the British isles if they didn’t have to, so I guess we’ll see about that one.
Read more of Max Sobol in Berlin
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