Cristine Richey is serious. Here she is at the Berlin Film Festival market and the two fetish-dressed students she hired to hand out flyers have mutinied. ‘Perhaps they saw Spartacus on TV last night?’
Richey, Toronto-based producer and director of Tops & Bottoms: Sex, Power and Sadomasochism, was doing her own marketing, working the venue, armed with sandwich boards and leaflets, supported by colleague Howard Chelin. The pay off: packed screenings, peak interest and offers pouring in.
This year’s Berlinale (the 50th) was the first to be held at the Potsdamer Platz development, in what used to be the front line in the Cold War, but is now the new center of Berlin.
While the details need some work, overall opinion was extremely favorable. The cinemas and market are all within a few minutes’ walk of each other, the location is central, the market less constricted, and even the weather played along (unpleasant instead of atrocious).
As usual, docs were a staple of the Panorama section and also featured in the Forum. Among the various award winners were David Blaustein’s Botin De Guerra (about the plight of Argentine grandmothers seeking their grandchildren born in detention or kidnapped during the military dictatorship); Frederic Rouiller-Gall’s Echo (a 13-minute short about two Holocaust survivors); the terminally ill Johan van der Keuken’s De Grote Vakantie (The Long Holiday) explores the beauty and menace of the world and Paragraph 175, by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, in which elderly homosexual men describe their experiences during the Nazi era.
This last film is being represented by Montreal-based Films Transit. And once again, Jan Rofekamp brought an interesting slate to market. Among his offerings: Grass, Canadian Ron Mann’s feature about the history of the U.S. government’s unsuccessful attempts to fight marijuana, and the The Other Hollywood, Anders Dalaard’s expose of the American adult film industry.
Berlin 2000, as every year, was less about deals (although Cristine Richey was happily closing territories) than showcasing films at the first forum on the annual circuit.