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BERLINALE 2020 EFM

Florian Weghorn and Christine Tröstrum • Programme manager and project manager, Berlinale Talents

“Festivals, as well as all filmmakers, are being called upon to rethink their responsibilities to society”

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- We caught up with Florian Weghorn and Christine Tröstrum to discuss the highlights of this year’s edition of Berlinale Talents and how to be more “collectively creative”

Florian Weghorn and Christine Tröstrum  • Programme manager and project manager, Berlinale Talents
(© Peter Himsel/Berlinale)

As the 70th Berlinale wrapped a couple of weeks ago, so too did the 18th edition of Berlinale Talents. We managed to catch up with both programme manager Florian Weghorn and project manager Christine Tröstrum in order to learn how to be more “collectively creative”, and find out more about the highlights of this year and their new Talents Footprints initiative.

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Cineuropa: How did you manage to be “collectively creative” at this edition of Berlinale Talents?
Florian Weghorn:
If you add together the 255 Talents from 86 countries, multiply them by around the same number of guests and divide it by 100 events, the sum is definitely more than its parts. The 18th edition of Berlinale Talents was like becoming the festival’s laboratory, and this has been a true test and a testament to how our film industry can become more diverse and less hierarchically focused. The collectives helped us to get right to the core of, for example, equality on set, the ties between author and ownership, and fairness in business structures. There’s still a long way to go, but we are seeing a shift in the current generation of filmmakers towards more self-reflection and an ambition to create healthy environments collectively. And, let’s admit it, our times aren’t really asking for more “me, myself and I”, are they?

Could you tell us about some of the highlights of this year’s edition in terms of the panels and guests?
FW:
Berlinale Talents celebrates cinema as a true collaboration. You can sit with wonderful composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, dig into the prop-making process of Wes Anderson, or team Cate Blanchett up with young political activists, and every time it feels like a crew meeting where mutual respect is just as important as the celebration of art. But the shape of a summit like ours also changes, since everyone expects to be more involved. This call for a more democratic platform is a nice challenge for all curators, and along with the Indonesian collective of artists called Ruangrupa, we happily broke down the hierarchies. For example, we did so in some new event formats, such as the three public “gatherings”, where each of the 200 attendees jointly experienced storytelling through their bodies and minds. We will always love immersing ourselves in the worlds of much-admired individuals, such as Helen Mirren, Josephine Decker or Kleber Mendonça Filho. But we can only recommend to our colleagues at other festivals to also scrap some of the more classical panel formats and let the crowd take over the microphone.

As the EFM has already announced its Sustainability Manifesto, what is the role of Talents in this initiative, and how much “greener” have you become?
Christine Tröstrum:
Two years ago already, the Berlinale committed to joining up to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. We teamed up with the EFM and the Berlinale to become a more resource-friendly festival with less waste and with vegetarian meals. We’ll aim to reduce our carbon footprint, too, which requires a systemic change so that the compensation of unavoidable flights becomes “budgetable” for mainly publicly funded organisations like ours. But the biggest advantage of the UN agenda is its all-inclusive idea per se: Berlinale Talents sees its role in exploring new paths towards a cultural environment that is also socially more sustainable: this includes access to quality education, the fight for gender equality, equal working conditions, including fair pay in the cultural sector, as well as highlighting the power of art to maintain peace and justice.

Could you give us a more detailed overview of the Talents Footprints – Mastercard Enablement Programme?
CT:
We have a very active Talents community, with more than 8,500 alumni. In order to make an organic network like this sustainable, we trust deeply in the collective powers of capacity building. Talents Footprints comprises everything, where alumni and current Talents leave their own impact on society and establish film-related initiatives. This could be, for example, a solar-powered mobile cinema, an outreach programme for indigenous film communities, or an association for female documentary makers. The new Mastercard Enablement Programme allows us to empower three selected fellows per year with financial backing and, more importantly, individual coaching and mentorship. Films don’t fall from heaven, but they will hopefully grow better on fertile soil.

What should we expect from the 19th edition of Berlinale Talents?
FW:
If our funders and supporters allow us to, we will of course continue to broaden the impact of the platform, further democratise the discourse, and hopefully make it relevant again for all those who are embarking on that great adventure with us. But let’s be honest: festivals, as well as all filmmakers, are being called upon to rethink their responsibilities to society. Against this backdrop of so many challenges that we have nowadays, everyone is demanding answers. We think that festivals will also become the safe spaces we need in order to jointly formulate and ask the right questions.

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