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Berlin Film Fest: A Predictor of Oscar Gold?

Berlin is like a treasure trove of great films waiting to be discovered


If you want a possible sneak peak at next year’s Oscar nominees, you might consider the films presented at the Berlin Film Festival, which just wrapped up. The theory holds true, especially this year.

Among current Oscar nominees are several international films that had their world premiere at last year’s Berlinale.

“A Separation” by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi received the Golden Bear of the 2011 international competition, “Rundskop” (Bullhead) – the Belgian film directed by Michaël R. Roskam, which is nominated for Best Foreign Film, premiered in Berlin in the Panorama section.

In the non-competition category, the 3D documentary “Pina” by Wim Wenders, had its world premiere in the German capital city and is now Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary.  Even the feature animation nominee “A Cat in Paris” was shown in last year’s Generation program.

Just days before the annual Academy Awards ceremony each February, the film world migrates to Berlin. This A-list event during the chilly European winter season, is the place for discovering a wide range of global filmmakers.

A lot of attention is focused on the international competition, which is full of star-studded, red carpet premieres but also features some very political and controversial films.

And, of course, the Berlin fest has its share of celebrities. This year, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan presented his new film “DON2,” shot in Berlin, and Angelina Jolie showed her directing debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”

Berlin is like a treasure trove of great films waiting to be discovered.

The festival’s Panorama section shows international feature films and documentaries from all over the world.

The expanded Forum section showcases new approaches to filmmaking, such as experiments with aesthetics and film languages.

Generation is a platform for films addressing a younger audience (but we are not talking about the classical “family entertainment blockbusters”).

This year, a special section paid tribute to Studio Babelsberg, recognizing its centennial anniversary. This is hallowed ground, just outside of Berlin, where films like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and Marlene Dietrich’s first big film “The Blue Angel” were shot, as well as recent international productions like “Inglourious  Basterds” and “The Reader.” 

If you want to explore the modern, young filmmakers of Germany, check out the screenings for “Perspective Deutsches Kino,” a section offering debut German speaking films.

The Berlinale is the biggest audience festival in the world.  It’s open to all movie lovers with more than 400 films screened each year throughout its 10-day run.

Young filmmakers who want to work with masters from all around the world, need to apply for next year’s Talent Campus. This is a creative academy and networking opportunity for 350 up-and-coming filmmakers. No other festival offers anything like it. 


Anke Zwirner, Ph.D., is an expert in international film financing and a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University.