Impressions from a themed trip “Berlinale 2018 – 68th International Film Festival Berlin” from 14th to 22nd February, 2018, to Germany
by Xaisongkham Induangchanthy
I was surprised and very honored to be invited by the German Embassy in Vientiane to participate in the themed trip ‘Berlinale 2018 – 68th International Film Festival Berlin” from 14th to 22nd February, 2018.
The program was well curated and executed, thanks to staffs from the German Embassy, Goethe Institut, and the Federal Foreign Office.
Participants include documentary filmmakers, film producers, festival organizers, film critics, film professors, and so on, from around the world. But we all have one thing in common – that is film. It’s great to connect with them and learn about their work and their struggles, and how they overcame them.
The main part of the themed trip was to attend the Berlinale 2018 where we could watch films, network with other filmmakers, learn about the festival – its sections, ticketing system, film selection criteria, funding, etc.
Apart from the festival, other special activities were also organized for the participants. One of such activities included the visit to ‘German Film Archive – Museum for Film and Television’ where we learned about the development of German film industry from early day up to today, and film restoration work and exhibitions. Then we went on ‘Video bus tour’ to see some iconic locations used for filming famous movies. We learned that Berlin could turn into Paris (like in Around the World in 80 Days), New York, London, or even Moscow (such as a chasing car scene through the tunnel in Bourne Supremacy). We also had a chance to travel outside Berlin to visit ‘Filmuniversitat Babelsberg KORAD WOLF’ – the oldest and largest film school in Germany with about 600 students, specializing in many areas such as Directing, Acting, Cinematography, Producing, Music Composition, Animation, and so on. Best of all, it’s free. But there is one compulsory requirement: students need to know German. I wish I knew about this film school sooner and studied German so I could apply to study there.
The program was not always packed. It gave us some free time to engage in activities we were interested in. When not watching a movie, I visited some well-known places around town: The Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburger Tor, East Side Gallery, and Checkpoint Charlie. Having visited these places and known a bit about what happened, it’s really sad. But what I admired the most is the courage and creativity of German people who could use arts (e.g. East Side Gallery) as a reminder of what happened in the past, and to promote peace and tolerance, among other functions.
The over-all trip was an eye-opener for me; it’s my first time in Europe. Prior to this trip, attending the Berlinale was just a dream. After the trip, I think one day I will have my film shown at the festival too. Also, I didn’t know much about Germany and German people, apart from what I’ve seen from few movies. Having a chance to explore the city and interact with the people, I think Germans are so kind and the city is so beautiful with rich history and vibrant art scenes. I would definitely love to return to the city either as a filmmaker or a tourist.
Again, thank you, the Federal Foreign Office, the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut for this wonderful experience.