Earlier this month, 11 Milestone students and 2 Alumni attended the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale. The Berlinale is one of the world’s leading film festivals, which has been held every year in February since 1951. Only films that were produced in the 12 months prior to the Festival and have not been released commercially outside their country of origin can compete. The films are separated into categories (Competition, Forum, Berlinale Special, Panorama, Generation, Berlinale Shorts, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, LOLA, Culinary Cinema and NATIVe), each of which has its own awards. The jury is always an international one and it decides who will win the highest prizes, the Golden and the Silver Bears. This year the winner of the Golden Bear was ‘Taxi’ by Jafar Panahi, and the winner of the Silver Bear was ‘El Club’ (The Club) by Pablo Larraín.

Our group flew to Berlin on Friday, February 6 and returned home on Monday, February 9, which gave us two full days and two half days. In this short period of time we watched more than ten movies (again, in only two days!). We especially liked the Russian film ‘14+’ in the Generation category, which was about the love between two teenagers. Our other favourite was the ‘El Incendio’ (The fire), because of the main characters brilliant acting. In the documentaries category, the film ‘Hotline’ proved very interesting and thought-provoking. We were lucky enough to meet one of the main organisors of Berlinale who told us everything about what the Berlinale really means, how it is organised, and the way the films and the categories are chosen.

We roamed around Berlin, saw the city bathed in morning light from the top of the Bundestag, the German parliament, observed the urban bustle at Potzdamer Platz, saw where the wall used to be, and in the evening admired the stars on the luminous red carpet (where we also walked afterwards). Moreover, we got a taste of the beauty of the Turkish district and its culinary offerings. We also tried traditional German food, and we were lucky enough to have a dinner at the famous Clärchens Ballhaus, a dance hall from the early 20th century.

On our first night, we got to know the nightlife of Berlin, as we unexpected ended up at a Lesbian party. On the other nights we visited different kinds of pubs and clubs, where we spent some quality time, getting to know each other and some Berlin students.

In short, we had a productive, busy and fun time together. We enjoyed it a lot and got closer to each other as a little community. We have already started to plan the next year’s Berlinale, so watch out Berlin, because we will be back!