(Editor's note: In his debut blog on OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee Film Artistic Director Jonathan Jackson writes from Berlin, the site of the 59th Berlin International Film Festival.)
BERLIN -- A roundabout way to get to Berlin, but it feels right considering that in the next 10 days I will be travelling the world five to six times a day, but all from a comfy seat in a darkened cinema.
I arrived safely on Thursday morning, and for a change quite well rested thanks to some extraordinary new sleeping pills (which I guess were created in the '70s, but they are new to me, anyway).
First on the agenda is to secure my pass and program catalogues. One of the great hallmarks of the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) is that is operated in the great German tradition of efficiency, so checking in is always a breeze. This is saying something when a festival has over 20,000 industry professionals from around the world attending.
After checking in, each one of those professionals must spend hours, days even, sorting through the 600-plus films screening between the festival and the European Film Market (EFM). Thankfully, coffee is in endless supply.
After maxing out on planning, I decided I was awake enough in the evening to venture to a screening. I bypassed the official opening film, "The International," since it opens in U.S. theaters next Friday, and headed to a market screening of a film I missed at the Sundance Film Festival, "The September Issue." This revealing documentary by RJ Cutler delves deeply into the process of compiling the largest Vogue issue ever, focusing on its infamous 20-year editor Anna Wintour.
A word on the festival opening with "The International."
In nightmarish financial times like these, it is not surprising that a film festival would open with a movie that has this tagline: "They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everybody pays."
I am sure the fact that it was shot in Germany and was helmed by German director Tom Tykwer, of "Run Lola Run" fame, were important considerations, but for a festival director an opening night film is about positioning and ticket sales. When you're given the opportunity to comment on the news du jour with your opening film, you must. As Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick opines "It's not a real financial crisis. It's a crisis of idiots in suits and ties who gambled with billions of dollars and the tax money of ordinary people."
"The International" was roundly panned by film critics.
With new films from Hans Christian Schmid ("Requiem"), Rebecca Miller ("The Ballad of Jack and Rose") Lukas Moodysson ("Together"), Stephen Frears ("The Queen"), Costa-Gavras ("The Axe"), Sally Potter ("Orlando"), Theo Angelopoulos ("The Weeping Meadow") and Michael Glawogger ("Workingman's Death") on my docket, I am eagerly anticipating my cinematic experiences this year.