On Day Two of the Berlinale 2015, I was up early today for the 9am screening of Taxi, Jafar Panahi’s follow-up to Closed Curtain. When it ended, there was a nice round of applause. I felt everyone was more or less pleased with the film. After a quick stop for a gallon-sized, five-euro ‘Pott Kaffee’ at Billy Wilder’s (Café, not his house sadly enough) I rushed back to get in line for Queen of the Desert. I was right to do so, as a considerable line ended up forming behind me. Once back in the auditorium, I sat next to a nice Belgian reporter who gave me a couple pointers about being a member of the press at the Berlinale. He told me where to get the neat free tote bags I’d seen everyone carrying; you just had to visit the basement of the very building we were in. Everything is secret here, you have to follow the crowd and hope they are taking you where you need to be. He noted that the more experienced reporters seemed to prefer things that way: it always keeps them one step ahead for the next scoop.
After Queen of the Desert, I thought about how strange it feels to watch so many movies in a single day; how we have maybe an hour or two to form an opinion and jot down notes or a short review of a film that took months or even years to make. Of course, if you’re one of the real hot shots here, you just pick up your phone minutes after stepping out of the theater and start dictating. This I find wholeheartedly fascinating. On my way out of the Desert, I overheard two friends joking. In reply to a joke, one said “Oh Jesus!” while his friend replied, “No. Oh Herzog!” Yet another pair’s conversation consisted of:
“You really going to the press conference?”
I soon found out why: for the first time, we were shunned from the gates to the kingdom of heaven that is our daily press conference room. Confused writers showed their badges repeatedly, failing to comprehend why their right to be upstairs had suddenly been revoked. The room was simply full.
So I returned to the Berlinale Palast, where the conference was being streamed to a giant monitor.
Herzog mentioned wanting to show “the dignity of life under Islam” and that he should’ve started making films with female protagonists much earlier in his career.
Because I felt I should make it a ‘queenly’ day, I decided to next see Alex Ross Perry’s latest film, Queen of Earth. It’s fun going into a film no one has yet seen, but sometimes that means disappointment. Queen of Earth started out thrilling and ended up disappointing. Most original end credits I’ve seen in a long while though.
Finally, after a few hours to have dinner, relax, and chat with friends, I went far off the beaten path to finish out my day with a 10pm screening of the excellently titled, La Maldad (Evilness). This was the first non-packed screening I attended. In fact, there were maybe 25 people in the theater. Roughly five of them got up and left half way through. In the final five or ten minutes, the only other person in my row got out his phone and proceeded to use it until the credits rolled. C’mon guy!