One of the most important festivals of the film industry, the Berlinale fills with excitement the otherwise bitterly cold and dull month of February in Berlin. Join me in this small guide on how the festival works, how to get tickets, what are the coolest venues and which films are to be watched.
What is the Berlinale?
The Berlin International Film Festival was founded in 1951 and is one of the three big European film festivals together with the ones celebrated in Cannes and Venice. The top prize is the Golden Bear but there are also secondary prizes (for example, for actors and actresses) in the form of the Silver Bear. It is a showcase of trends currently ongoing in the world cinema and is accompanied by the European Film Market, one of the best film trade fairs of the world. Past winners of the Berlinale are film classics such as Spirited Away, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss and Wild Strawberries. There are other awards inside the Berlinale such as the Teddy Bear, which is bestowed upon films with LGBT topics.
It is the most visited film festival worldwide, with more than 300 thousand tickets sold (in 2014). The public can delight themselves by assisting to the world première of films, where usually some of the stars or the film crew including the director are there to answer questions and interact with the audience. The venues are normal cinemas all around Berlin, including some of the big theaters such as Friedrichstadt Palace. But the central venue is the Berlinale Palast in Potsdamer Platz, where all films in competition have its première and the opening and awards ceremonies take place.
The president of this year’s (2019) International Jury was the world famous actress Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Blue, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf). There are many sections in the festival: the most important is the so-called Competition, which are the films racing up for the Golden Bear. But there are also interesting sections such as Panorama, which sometimes offer some of the most innovative film artworks.
How to get tickets?
It is common to say in Berlin that Berlinale Tickets are extremely difficult to get. Actually it is not that hard if you know the rules:
- Before ticket sale starts, you should always have a plan of what films you would like to see. Check the program in advance and adapt your schedule so you can get the most out of the festival in your free time.
- Tickets are on sale always 3 days in advance. For example, on Monday for the next Thursday. This rule also applies for the very first day of the festival: therefore the first days of tickets sale on 2019 is Monday February 4th.
- Ticket sale starts every day at 10:00 am. That is, every morning at 10 the ticket assortment for the next third day will be released.
- It is only possible to buy 2 tickets maximum per person per screening. That is, you can buy for each film only 2 tickets, but you can buy tickets for many films.
- Also, one rule that most people forget is that starting from the very first day of ticket sale, you can already buy the tickets for all screenings at the venues Friedrichstadt-Palast and HAU Hebbel am Ufer, and all tickets for the Public Day on Sunday after award ceremony. This detail gives the best chance to get tickets.
- Ticket booths are located at the Postdamer Platz Arkaden, Kino International, Haus der Berliner Festspiele and Audi City Berlin. This is where you get the longest queues but is the real experience of Berlinale.
- But you don’t have always to queue on the ticket booths, it is possible to buy them online! Tickets are sold out in minutes, since only a small amount of tickets is published online, so you have to be fast! As a tip always be ready every day at 9:55 am in front of your computer and keep refreshing until the tickets are released. Keep ready a logged-in valid account at the event provider/ticket operator so payment runs smooth and quickly. The event provider in the last years has been Eventim. You can print your online ticket at home and bring it to the screening, it is valid enough.
- If you are lucky, you can get tickets on the same day at the ticket booths of the cinema where the film screening takes place.
- Most tickets cost between 10-16 €.
What is coming to the Berlinale in 2020?
The line-up for the Berlinale 2020 is not yet decided. It will be the 70th edition of the festival! The committee selecting the works to be displayed in competition can be found in this press release.
Once in Berlin…
If you are visiting Berlin for the International Film Festival for the first time, or you have never had time to see the most important attractions of the German Capital, do not forget to do the sightseeing tour Basic Berlin in the time you have between screenings.