A Trapped Artist Inside
Dealing with bureaucrats with artistic pretensions is a balancing act. On the one hand they crave the hell with life mentality of Fassbinder, the go your own path of a Bowie, the respectability of Nolan mingled with the steady monthly salary of a state tax officer. Nowhere do I see this more than at the Berlinale Film Festival.
After the release of the 2017 petition calling for an overhaul of the film festival I saw many of the artistic and bureaucratic emotions collide. Artist and bureaucrats have thin skin. I experienced as well as witnessed the staffs defensive sensitive side during the press screenings, the shorten opening press conference, then at the festival.
Having attended the festival for many years, I support the annual event and films. The Berlinale mixes mainstream cinema to the quirky to the “I Don’t Get it!”
No need for an opinion if you are small
My criticism of the organization has not been any harder or meaner than the any other site or press outlet. As an attendee, I stated the reality. Real change has to come on all levels if it is to stay relevant on the circuit. As the film world knows, the Berlinale has been beset by criticisms from all sides. Festival Head Kosslick resigns this year. After last year’s fest and more recently during a “Chat Cinema” podcast we restated our opinions. A complete redo needed if the Berlinale can gain footing on the level as Cannes, Venice, and Sundance festivals.
I applied for festival access as press, no response. After a quick call, the reply on the other end, “We will check on it.” Then a declined notice via email. Never a problem in the past, all of a sudden a problem. Should I call a CSI team to solve the case? A small website critical of the fest, suddenly there is no space for attendance, press credentials denied for Black and Paper. I was told the press team is being diligent this year. What was their working method in the past?
After speaking to the press team concerning the declined noticed, they mentioned my YouTube features, it felt like they used it as a homework assignment. The numbers were low and the long videos. The reasoning made no sense: the number of seats limited. A drop in attendance the previous year meant there should be more places in 2019, simple math.
I asked, if the staff is so Internet Savvy why did not they not see the 24 pictorial, written, and video features produced and published about the 2018 Berlinale festival posted on Black and Paper.com. Additionally, there could have been more features had we written about the films not liked. Instead I decided to focus on the films liked.
After sending 10 weblinks from the 2018 coverage, I called the press officer back asking if they wanted more proof. I am so important the response was,” we are discussing it, it will take a few hours to discuss the application.” To be the topic of discussion at a film festival by staff should inflate the ego. Instead it feels sad on this side of petty. Did the Chat Cinema Podcast cause this relationship breakdown? I was smugly told we did not have time to listen to the long cast. I had time to endure screening 40 or so films at the film festival, only a few worth processing at a negative lab.
Can you work for another magazine, was a question from the officer. I responded with a “NO!” This site has been ok for me. I’m listed in the Berlinale data base, receiving emails from the festival.
My advice, put together a good festival that engages, not sermonises. Or develop thick skin.
Waiting a “few hours” from 1 pm until 7:48. I posted on Twitter a Chat Cinema tweet. Finally, 54 minutes later an email sent from the Berlinale press office stated my accreditation declined, again. REALLY! The press team spent 7 hours discussing Black and Paper, an honor in a way, the center of attention of a festival with over 400 films, thousands of attendees and we were singled out. A rejection letter that took an afternoon to write. There is an saying in the American South, “If people are talking about you, you must be relevant.” “But if they tell you not to come, you must be really relevant!”
Black and Paper will not attend the Berlinale 2019 because we stated our opinion. By and large not suffering from FOMO Syndrome.