In February 2016, our MSc Filmmaking and Media Arts students took a field trip to the Berlinale International Film Festival. Student and filmmaker Angelos Papadakis tells us about his experience in Berlin.
Sure, one could complain about the early mornings and late nights. About the loud teenagers running amok in the hostel’s hallways, banging doors and laughing regardless of what time it was. You could even have a thing or two to say about the annoying hippie in the subway who sang a repetitive mellifluous “is it enough” again and again at the top of his lungs for the whole ride.
And then you’d walk into the cinema, underslept, malnourished, sweat dripping down your forehead and ticket all crumpled in your hand from anxiety, and you’d forget everything. When the lights went down and the curtain opened, when the golden bear appeared against the red backdrop, everything dissipated. All that remained was art in its purest and yet most carefully honed form: cinema made with dedication and passion by people who present their creation to others who come to witness the endless diversity that this magnificent audio-visual art form has to offer. You could never guess the journey you had embarked on while waiting in line early (oh so early) in the morning. Even the little blurbs, cleverly written to not give anything away as much as arouse interest, could not prepare you for it all: an Amazonian man is trying to break free of his tribal past; two bounty hunters search for a McGuffin in a western-like Belgian countryside; a girl’s sexual awakening comes through caring for her brother and voyeuristically taunting men; two men must come to terms with the repercussions of their spontaneity in just two hours; and the list can go on and on…
In the heart of Berlin we came into contact with what makes us human, and that is our ceaseless quest to understand who we are, what we’re doing and why. Everyone has their own musings and vision and essentially that is the beauty of humanity.
Cinema is not only entertainment. It’s not only art. It’s that grey area with manifold faces that allows our imagination to unravel and spirit to soar.
Going to Berlin did not mean only attending the film festival. It meant immersing yourself for a week in the wonder that comes when you feel like you’ve found your place. That this is where you belong.
So sure, you might stay in a cheap hostel with adolescents running around like hormonal maniacs, you might rush from film to film and miss out on sleep when you wake up at 6.30am to stand in line for tickets. You might eat whatever you can get your hands on. But it doesn’t matter. Berlin is there to remind you the filmmaker’s life is often hard. But when the movie theatre darkens and the screen lights up, you know it is all worth it.
Angelos Papadakis, Berlin, April 2016