Berlinale: The International Film Festival for the Rest of Us

The Berlin International Film Festival a.k.a, The Berlinale is one of the big players in the world of international film festivals, on par with the likes of such festivals as the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and Cannes. While showcasing prominent world class films, the Berlinale also brings to the screen a wide selection of lesser-known, but none the less, excellent independent films. Offering this wide selection of films to its audience, the Berlinale gives to its participants the opportunity to view films that would not normally be shown on the commercial screen. Not only does it offer unique films, but the Berlinale remains accessible and affordable to the everyday person. It is the openness and accessibility that makes the Berlinale a well-beloved and highly anticipated event that draws people from across the world and closer to home. The Berlinale is a wonderful addition to a city that is forever reinventing itself and at the cutting edge of what is new and trendy. So during the dull and dreary days of February, this film festival splashes the city with glitz and glam and a little bit of grit.


The wide selection of films offered at the Berlinale is a filmgoer’s idea of paradise. It’s not every day that one is able to go see a film from an Iranian director or one all the way from New Zealand, but that is what is so special about this festival. As an international film festival, the Berlinale is able to offer and showcase a vast amount of foreign films that simply would have no chance on the commercial screen. Not only are there documentary screenings on the topic of the derelict waste water systems of Mexico city (El Buzo 2015) but also there are film screenings for a French comedy about a wine tour of a father and son, who happen to be redneck dairy farmers (Saint Amour 2016). With this wide mix of film types and genres, there is for sure something for everyone and every taste.

The question of how one is able to get tickets to the Berlinale is unfortunately a bit complicated. You can find tickets for most films online or in person at the box office. The tickets for films officially go on sale three days before the showing of the film at 10 am. The number of tickets depends on the available cinema. This sometimes can make it a bit tricky when the theater has a limited number of seating. Sometimes, when a film is sold out, a limited amount of tickets are released to the public during the three days leading up to the film. It is advisable to check regularly the online ticket sales page and see if the film that is sold out has other tickets that have been released to the public. If buying tickets online is not an option, tickets can be bought in person at the actual box office three days before the screening. A tip in buying Berlinale tickets is that buying tickets online is only a small faction of the actual ticket sales. The best option in buying tickets is to go to the box office and buy them there. It is always best to buy tickets as soon as possible and know exactly what you want to see. That being said, the ticket prices can also vary. depending if you buy them online or at the box office and on other additional costs. There is also a ticket limit of two tickets per movie per person. Although this limits the amount of tickets one can buy, it also ensures that there is no resale of tickets. Further information on purchasing Berlinale tickets and other guidelines can be found online  (http://www.stilinberlin.de/2015/01/berlinale-get-tickets.html).

One of the more exciting parts of the Berlinale is its accessibility to the directors and actors. A sure way to see a director and actors is to attend a world premiere. Often in a world premiere, members of the cast and the director will attend the showing with the general public. Using myself as an example, last year I was able to attend the world premiere of Mr. Holmes. Not only did I see this film, but I was also able to attend the question and answer time with the director and actors. In this world premiere the cast and director were in the audience and only three rows away from where I was seated. Sometimes following a world premiere, there will be a question and answer time with the actors and directors. In these sessions there is an opportunity to ask the actors and directors questions about the film and their acting career. From what I saw, it seems like they will accept a number of questions from the crowd. The neat thing about these sessions is that it is “included” in the price of the film ticket. The drawback is that it a first-come, first-serve type of thing, so if you want to have an opportunity to ask a question, make sure that you are at the front of the line and know where the question and answer session is located.    

The festival is one of those things that people around the world and in Berlin look forward to every year. As you take in the different events throughout the festival it becomes clear that this is an international event. What better way to celebrate Berlin's international connections than through a film and popcorn at the Berlinale.