Connor Abroad: The Berlin Film Festival 2016

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This is a little bit of a personal post today, its a little bit different but I thought I’d share it with you all. So, with my college a couple of weeks ago I took a trip to the 66th Berlin Film Festival and I thought I’d tell you all about it. Let’s start from the beginning shall we?

My class, all 22 of us, left for Birmingham airport at the early early time of 7am on a Wednesday for our mid day flight to Berlin. Fairly standard, the only thing to comment at this point is the sheer stupidity of the price of my Burger King (£7 for a meal, what a rip). Flight was fine, some nice view of a cloud and some sky, nothing much to shout about. We landed in Berlin at about 1pm and quickly got settled in our Hostel which would be our home for the next 5 days.

After settling in we all headed out to get our bearings on whereabouts we were in Berlin and where the film festival was being held. After a little bit of shopping (and some nice Brownie) we all sat down to have a nice Italian dinner at a cute little pasta restaurant, our only big group meal of the trip. Following this we headed back and turned in for a nice early night after spending most of the day traveling.

The next day we headed out again, this time we did a little bit of tourist stuff. We went to the Film Museum in Berlin where we had a lovely talk by one of the curators there who practically walked us through the history of film and what the movie industry was like in Germany. There was a lot of emphasis on the film Metropolis, many of you may know it, if not, its basically the film that spawned the visual idea of the city in Blade Runner.

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After the morning tour we went on our own walking tour of Germany, we went all over. The Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie before finally ending up back at the main theatre and opening night of the Berlin Film Festival. The opening film? Hail Ceaser! 

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There we stood, for 3 hours, in the cold, hoping to catch a glimpse of a famouse face. And we were not disappointed. From a distance we got to saw great actors, Channing Tatum, Scarlet Johansson, Josh Brolin and Meryl Streep! But up close? (well, pretty much up close) We got to see George Clooney! Which pretty much made the whole night, well, the whole trip. Following this excitement I went to have some odd potato burger. Basically it was two hash browns (potato’s not weed you fools) with a beef bruger and onions in the middle. It was surprisingly nice. Then, after a long day, we turned in for the night.

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Friday started with some more sight seeing. We went to the East Side Gallery, the part of the Berlin Wall with all the cool art work painted over it. We then took the subway to a nice (posh) shopping street where me and a few friends all had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe before spending a considerable amount of time browsing a used record store. After this we headed back on the train to a small art house cinema to watch The Danish Girl. This movie wasn’t really my cup of tea, and was it not for the trip I probably wouldn’t have watched it. But I must admit I was impressed. Firstly with the way they handled the sensitive topic of being transgender and secondly with the performance of Alicia Vikander who I believed completely outshone Eddie Redmayne. Once again, we then headed back to our hostel and turned in for the night.

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Now, Saturday. This was the day of movies. The first film we went to see was called Rauf. A small film about a boy who wants to get the love of his life a pink scarf, set to the backdrop of the Kurdish fighting. I’d love to tell you more about this film, but I have a confession. I fell asleep. This is nothing against the film, I think it was mostly because it was very dark and I was crashing from the “Star Wars Space Punch” I had just drank that I bought the night before. The second film we went to see was Girl Asleep. An Australian film about a girl turning from 14 to 15 who has to deal with the change in her own way. I absolutely loved this film. It had the style of Wes Anderson and took aspects from Where The Wild Things Are and had the humour that wouldn’t look out of place on a Friday night sitcom. If anyone gets the chance to see this film I urge you to watch it, its only 70-odd minutes long but it’s worth every second. The 3rd and final film of the day was Las Plantas. Now, I don’t want to talk about this film much, but it left our whole group feeling very violated and needed a cold shower. It was not a film to see with a group of 16-19 year olds despite it’s age rating being a 14 (recommended 16+). With the horrible memories of Las Plantas still in our heads, we turned in for our final night in our hostel.

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Sunday. Going home day. But wait, we had a film to watch first. We went to see our final film of the trip, Zud. This time i was prepared. On the way to the cinema I bought a can or Red Bull and a can of Monster in order to keep me awake throughout the movie. And I quite liked it (even though i was the only one). The story centered around a boy who’s father owned a farm but was in a huge amount of dept and the only way to earn some more money was to enter a horse race. It did not end well. It was a good film, though it was long and very scenic (much like The Revenant except without a bear fight). After this we headed back to the hostel, picked up our bags, headed to the airport, boarded our flight and headed off home. We arrived back at college a little after 7pm and back in bed for 9. A lovely few days with amazing people.

Thank you Berlin, it’s a trip I won’t be forgetting for a long time.

Berlin Film Festival: 5/5

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