A city steeped in culture, music and the arts, today’s Berlin is one that the likes of Bertolt Brecht and Marlene Dietrich would not recognise, but it is one that continues to draws millions to it each year. After massive post-war rebuilding this modern city continues to embrace arts and culture – along with commerce – and the film industry in particular plays a key role.
The Film Festival
As well as being a much sought-after location for filming, this February sees the city host the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale, running from February 9th to 19th. With an illustrious history on the film festival circuit, this year over 20,000 industry professionals will come to Berlin from 122 countries. 335,000 tickets have been sold to watch more than 400 screenings, at what is considered the largest attended film festival in the world.
The Berlinale – Image courtesy of Culture360
The programme covers every type of genre and format, from the best international features, independent and art house, films of children and young adults, emerging German talent and experimental. Apart from immersing audiences in everything filmic, many will also be closely watching who will win awards.
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This year Dutch director and screenwriter Paul Verhoeven is serving as jury President, and with the international jury will decide who will receive the Golden and Silver Bears at the 2017 Berlinale Competition.
Golden Bear Awards – Image courtesy of bonjourtristesse
As well as looking to the future of film the Berlinale also looks back to celebrate the classics, and those who contributed over the years to the industry. The Retrospective this year is dedicated to science fiction and will include 27 international features, including classics, cult films, and largely unknown productions from Japan, as well as Central and Eastern Europe.
George Clooney at the Berlinale – Image courtesy of DW
As with any world-renowned film festival, as well as exploring the artistry and power and influence of film, there will be plenty of red carpet glamour. Last year saw Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, George Clooney and the Coen Brothers amongst a number of stars posing for the banks of photographers, and the opening night on the 9th will undoubtedly draw huge names again this year.
Django – Image courtesy of Berlinale
This year the festival opens with the world premiere of Etienne Comar’s directing debut “Django” focusing on the famous composer and guitarist Django Reinhardt and his escape from German-occupied Paris in 1943.
Where to stay
With many hotels fully booked, you will need to move fast to find a good base. Try Das Stue’s Bel Etage suite for some indulgence, housed in the now transformed grand Danish Embassy in the Tiergarten district.
The beautiful decor at Das Stue – Image courtesy of designhotels
Where to Eat
For dining, Restaurant Tim Raue’s Southeast Asian-inspired menu has seen it make the world’s top 50 restaurants and earn it two Michelin Stars.
Fine dining – Image courtesy of Tim-Raue
Elsewhere be sure not to miss more traditional Berlin fare, from Schnitzel Holstein at Borchardt in Mitte, or various sausages – from currywurst to bockwurst in neighbourhoods like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, places that for many visitors encapsulate the new, edgy Berlin.
What to do
Amongst the sights, the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag are surely impressive, and the city also has numerous historic legacies that will leave you pondering, from Checkpoint Charlie to the East Side Gallery where over 1300 metres of the old Berlin wall now forms a freedom memorial with street art.
The iconic Brandenburg Gate
In the evening, the city’s famous nightlife gets going late and has some stamina, including nights and mornings at the infamous Berghain, housed in a former power plant.
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Berlin’s vibrancy is one that keeps pumping, and with its whole-hearted celebration of the arts and film, its hearty food and its ability to embrace and remember a history that has seen many highs and lows, it certainly is one of Europe’s cities not to be missed. Get there faster by flying privately into Berlin Schonefeld or Berlin Tegel Airport.