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One of the brightest spots in the long Berlin winter is the Berlinale – one of the world’s premier film festivals, which will take place this year between the 15th and 25th February. We love it, especially for the chance to see films from around the world that otherwise would be unlikely to make it to Berlin’s cinemas. Read on for our very own guide to the festival, from the different parts of the programme, the participating cinemas and how to get tickets.
If you are in Berlin during the Berlinale, we are running a very special tour for our guests as part of our Behind the Curtain programme. It is a journey through Berlin’s film and music heritage, led by Mark Meadow – reporter with Deutsche Welle – and it takes place on the 16th February.
ABOUT THE BERLINALE
To give the Berlinale its official title, The Berlin International Film Festival began back in 1951 in the aftermath of World War II. It was founded to showcase cinema from around the world, offering a variety of perspectives and promoting international dialogue through film. In the decades since, the Berlinale has become one of the most prestigious film festivals on the planet, and attracts some of the world’s finest filmmakers as well as the most exciting emerging talents.
The main prize of the Berlinale is the Golden Bear, and the list of winners includes some of film history’s most accomplished directors, including Ingmar Bergman for Wild Strawberries (1958), Jean-Luc Godard for Alphaville (1965), Rainer Werner Fassbinder for Veronika Voss (1982), Hayao Miyazaki for Spirited Away (2002) and Carla Simon for Alcarràs (2022).
The festival is split up into different sections, which is useful for when you are trying to navigate the programme to decide what to try and watch… it can be a bit overwhelming! The Competition is the showpiece – the films competing for the Golden Bear – but the other sections are well worth exploring. Panorama shows off extraordinary cinema from around the world, Encounters showcases daring films by independent filmmakers, and Generation brings to the festival films for young audiences (and indeed, anyone else).
You can explore the different sections and the full programme on the Berlinale website.
The Berlinale takes place across the city, and one of the joys of the festival can be looking at the programme for a particular cinema and seeing what happens to be showing. It is a fantastic opportunity to see films you would otherwise not get to see, and the vast majority are screened either in English or with English subtitles.
Some of the more interesting venues include Silent Green, a former crematorium that has been transformed into a cultural space, and the Kino International – the premier cinema in the GDR before the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the map page of the Berlinale website you can search the programme for each specific venue at the festival.
Ah, the big question. It’s a great festival, but how do you get tickets? The simple answer is – tickets go online three days in advance from 10am (Berlin time). Which means, as the festival begins on the 15th February, tickets for the opening day’s screenings will be available on 12th at 10am. The ticket page of the website is here.
Of course, some films are bound to be more popular than others. Berlinale Specials, including premieres or other events with the cast and crew, or the Competition films in general, are likely to have a lot of people vying for tickets. But the programme is broad and deep, and the joy of the Berlinale is taking your chance on a film you might otherwise never come across.
MORE FILM FUN FROM OUR BEHIND THE CURTAIN PROGRAMME…
As well as our tour through Berlin’s film and music heritage on the 16th February, we also invite guests to join us on a trip to the historic and iconic Babylon cinema on 18th February for a special screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece METROPOLIS, complete with live orchestra. More information here.