Amidst the pomp, the circumstance, and the tightly wrapped boxes, there are the staff working for the Berlinale Service Centre that are not only incredibly helpful, and all that jive, but also smart, sweet, informed, entering conversations with the purpose of dialogue and mutual discovery. No small talk in Berlin.
Coming in from London, where professional convo is more often than not scarce, tight, mundane, and usually entirely mercenary, especially at any kind of service counter, this has been like walking on water in the Holy Land.
On the other hand, security people are a bag of mixed jellybeans, some sweet, some sour, some downright unpalatable. I was aggressively pushed aside by one sweep of giant hand for apparently standing in the wrong queue and trying to explain myself. Then again, some let me in quite kindly when I was late for screenings.
Then there are the Info people at CinemaxX, where the press screenings happen, a strange, cynical combo of lack of information and surplus of arrogance. I imagine that having to talk to thousands of film industry attendees could do that to you. But still.
Finally, the theatres themselves, an ingenious discrepancy – running from the frayed utilitarian (CinemaxX), the snazzy (CineStar), the glitzy (Berlinale Palast), the camp (Friedrichstadt-Palast), to the sublime (International). Staff all around were super cool, natural and easygoing, plus informed, so all stars to the cinemas.
Take two of Berlinale is that, organisationally, it is a festival of extremes. Not only a festival of excuses (as one insightful employee put it). Gliding between its seamlessly sewn edges, sometimes one gets the forgotten sharp pin.