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Berlinale 2015 without Nollywood as filmfest gets underway in Germany

By Shaibu Husseini
05 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
THE 65th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival otherwise called Berlinale opened yesterday to throngs of excited movie stars and moviegoers in the tourism friendly city of Berlin, Germany. Runing till February 15, 2015, the ten days-long festival is reputed as the world’s biggest public film festival.  Over 400,000 sold tickets, almost 20,000 professional…

Nollywood

THE 65th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival otherwise called Berlinale opened yesterday to throngs of excited movie stars and moviegoers in the tourism friendly city of Berlin, Germany. Runing till February 15, 2015, the ten days-long festival is reputed as the world’s biggest public film festival. 

Over 400,000 sold tickets, almost 20,000 professional visitors from 124 countries, including around 3,700 journalists: art, glamour, parties and businesses are all inseparably linked yearly at the Berlinale.
Also, over 400 films including about 87 documentaries will be shown in several cinemas across the city, with the bulk of the films screening for the first time. Indeed Berlinale has long been committed to documentaries in their diverse forms. This is reflected in the programmes of the Berlinale’s different sections and initiatives, as well in the European Film Market (EFM), NATIVe, and Berlinale Talents. This year alone, the festival hopes to screen a total of 87 documentaries. They also have planned to hold discussions, workshops, panels and presentations on different aspects related to documentaries. 

But Berlinale is not just about showing films. There is festival, a film market—which presents new opportunities for filmmakers, several panels, workshops and a talent programme that is reputed to be the best in the world. Isabel Coixet’s Nobody Wants the Night opened the festival yesterday while accomplished director Darren Aronofsky is at the head of a well peopled seven man international jury that would decide winners of the golden and silver bears of the 2015 Berlinale competition. Aronofsky, who has received several directing awards and several nominations including a nomination at the Academy Awards, is the director of the visually arresting epic Noah. 

In addition to the main competition, the Berlinale has other sections such as panorama, forum, generation for children and youth and German cinema perspectives.
Although Africa has not been lucky to have their films listed in the competitive category of Berlinale, they seem to be warming their way up with the encouraging listing of about eight films including The Sea Behind and Breathe Umphefunlo in the panorama and special gala section of the festival. The Sea Behind is from Morocco while Breathe umphefunlo is listed as a South African entry. ‘’It is a good year for African Cinema if you ask me’ says notable film officiando Victor Okhai. ‘’If we can have about eight African films programmed for a festival that has all along being dominated by the cinemas of other nation this year alone, then it means that we are getting closer to the main attraction of the festival which is getting on the official competition selection’’ he added. 

Although there will be no Nigerian film on showcase at the Berlinale, Okhai expressed the hope that Nigeria would soon have their works considered at major festivals such as Berlinale. ‘’We are doing well and the quality has improved. But we need aggressive marketing and PR for these films even before they are premiered. We keep deceiving ourselves that we are known everywhere. There are film programmers whose only knowledge of our industry is what they read on the social media. So we need to do more of promotions and be involved in international film politics,” he said. But even though Nigerian is not on the Berlinale film slate, a few of the practitioners including top female movie director Tope Oshin Ogun and film critic Oris Aigbokhaevbolo say they will be in Berlin to participate in the other events of the festival, especially the training programme and the film market.  Both Oris and Tope Ogun confirmed that they have been invited to Berlinale to be part of the prestigious Berlinale Talent Campus initiative. The Berlin Talent Campus initiative is a yearly summit and networking platform of the Berlin International Film Festival for 300 emerging film creative’s from all over the world. Ogun who arrived Berlin yesterday said she is delighted to be part of the vital platform that offers tailored coaching in all areas of filmmaking and that has developed into one of the most exciting initiatives at the Berlinale. It has also led to many success stories of films made by Talents alumni.