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BERLIN 2018

Dieter Kosslick • Director, Berlin Film Festival

“We arouse a lust for cinema”

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- BERLIN 2018: Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick talked to us about civil courage, the fates of artists and the huge success of the Berlinale on the eve of its 68th edition

Dieter Kosslick  • Director, Berlin Film Festival

The 68th Berlin International Film Festival (15-25 February 2018) is once again about to present an array of films from various places all over the world, which address the challenge of dealing with change. But the film and media industry itself is also facing a time of radical change. Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick gives us an insight into this year’s programme.

Cineuropa: How do you deal with the criticism of your work as festival director?
Dieter Kosslick:
Criticism is part of my job. My task is to organise an A-list festival, which entails perhaps considering different interests, or perhaps not... But the cultural quality of the festival obviously didn’t matter in this debate. Instead of discussing the content, very soon it became all about me as director. 

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Doesn’t this feel very unfair after you have been strengthening German film and filmmakers at the Berlinale for the past 17 years?
Directors such as Andreas Dresen and Dominik Graf dissociated themselves from the letter, and many people came up to me to support me. The film and media industry is facing a radical change, which is making everybody extremely nervous.

How do you personally measure the success of the Berlinale?
Even today, the Berlinale is still a festival for the audience. It’s been going for 67 years, with permanently increasing numbers of visitors, while the programme is very sophisticated artistically as well as content-wise. We arouse a lust for cinema and can see that this is appreciated by many Berlinale fans. That is the real success of the Berlinale.

This year’s films in competition tell stories of escape, identity changes and kidnapping, but they are also about writers and the seclusion of the individual. Is the Steven Soderbergh title Unsane representative of the entire programme?
Topics such as isolation and radicalisation can be found in Soderbergh’s film and in U – July 22 [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Erik Poppe
film profile
]
 by Erik Poppe, but I wouldn’t say that they dominate the entire programme. Often, it is also about civil courage. This is the case for Mug [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Małgorzata Szumowska
film profile
]
 by Malgorzata Szumowska and Dovlatov [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 by Aleksey German Jr, who tells the story of a young writer whose work was not published during the Brezhnev era in the Soviet Union. People don’t want to be at somebody’s mercy, and courageously take a stand for change.

Stories about refugees, as we see in Styx [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Wolfgang Fischer
film profile
]
by Wolfgang Fischer or Eldorado [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Markus Imhoof, show less pleasant scenarios, of course. But the refugee stories have reached a new level. They are about escaping, but primarily about stopovers, transit situations where people get stuck, and about the reasons for worldwide migration.

Are there any topics that dominate the programme in the various sections?
This year, there is no common thread that runs through the entire programme. It is about subjects such as religion and unusual family structures, but also about the fate of artists. In The Prayer [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Cédric Kahn
film profile
]
by Cédric Kahn, a drug addict concentrates on values such as belief and friendship in order to find a way back to a normal life. Life was never easy for Astrid Lindgren, who is portrayed in Becoming Astrid [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alba August
interview: Pernille Fischer Christensen
film profile
]
 by Pernille Fischer Christensen. And in 3 Days in Quiberon [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Emily Atef
film profile
]
Emily Atef tells a tragic story about superstar Romy Schneider. We see how a big star transforms into a fragile person.

Is the success of a festival nowadays also measured by the proportion of creative women involved?
Four female directors in competition doesn’t sound like very much, but when we also include script and production duties, according to the calculations by ProQuote, the proportion of creative women is almost 50%. In that respect, we are doing pretty well.

What is happening after the Berlinale?
Next summer, we will move together with our entire festival team to the glass skyscraper at Potsdamer Platz. The lease for the office spaces and cinemas at Potsdamer Platz runs until 2022. I will stand on the red carpet for the last time in 2019. This summer, State Minister for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters will announce who will be standing there after that.

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