Filmfestivals correspondant Claus Mueller sat down with Dieter Kosslick head of the Berlin festival for an open discussion on the festival changes.
Claus Mueller What is the most important change compared to last year?
Dieter Kosslick The most important change of course is that we finished out five year plan, including the change of the market, that is the move to the Martin Gropius Bau. That was a big move, and there is another little change, that we give the awards at the end of the festival on stage live so you can see it on television without having a press conference first. And we have a little kindergarten.
CM How do you position yourself in terms of Sundance, Cannes and Venice?
DK I do not know. We are in February. Good. Period.
CM What is the single most important problem you have organizing the Berlinale?
DK Not enough time to talk to everybody I want to talk to. Because I know so many people personally it is really a pity. So, may be next time.
CM Can you comment on your criteria of selection this year?
DK I think the selection this year is quite a normal selection when you see what the world production is. The world production including American independent movies is all about more or less political [themes]. George Clooney is a symbol
of something… It is a symbol but not a single thing, there are a lot of independent political movies, but also the studios are producing more and more films like this and the German movies are fitting perfectly into this movement, into this new movement of realistic, neo-realistic films and I think they are right. Because if you see how the world is organized we should have a look from artists of this world because there are a lot of problems and it is good that somebody takes care of it.
CM Like a political Woodstock?
DK It is not a political Woodstock, it is also entertainment. I mean Robert Altman’s movie "A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION" is both… For example we see on one side the old world disappears and the new world comes in. They have to shut down their radio show and he opens a garage, but on the other hand it is also big entertainment.
So I think we have a movement that entertainment and politics are not two different things, they are just one. Politics is entertainment. That’s why we love to go for elections.
CM What about the impact of new technologies?
DK We have them all here. If you mean people are not going to the cinemas because of the DVDs, that [technology] it is a great threat.
CM Any comments about the multiplication of film festivals, more than 2000 world wide?
DK I only run one.
CM What are the three film makers which had the greatest influence on you?
DK Stephen Frears, Tom Tykwer, and Charlie Chaplin
CM If you had more funding what would you do?
DK I do not need more funding
CM Really, you do not need more funding?
DK I would spend more money
CM On what?
DK I do not know…. May be to buy the stars some nicer breakfast… now they just get a T-shirt
CM If the festival were to expand what would you add if you had the funds?
DK No, it is not a question of money. If I were to add something it is much more a brain think… I mean what should I add? I would add something for older people for example. Because a lot of people are sitting in their retirement homes the whole day and doing nothing. They could go to the cinema, and I can invite them …… I mean I am fifty seven, in ten years may be I am sitting there too I and would be happy to be invited to a film festival.
CM What about your total budget? I heard eighteen million euros.
DK Sixteen million euros but including the Talent Campus which is completely funded differently
CM Has there been an increase in corporate sponsorship?
DK There has been an increase but I am not talking about it
CM Have you ever been involved in film making
DK No never, why?
CM Just asking….One more question, time is over
DK This is like a radio show or something
CM For next year do you plan any new additions?
DK Not really. if we like the films we will change
CM Thank you but more interview time next year
Claus Mueller, New York
Dieter Kosslick worked in policy making and journalism before his first involvement in 1983 in independent film funding and becoming in 1988 CEO of the Hamburg Film Funds Office. From 1992 to 2001 he was in charge of the NRW Film Foundation and transformed it into an innovative and second largest European public co-funding agency of films and documentaries. Under his direction the Berlin International Film Festival, the berlinale, has grown to be a serious competitor for Cannes and Venice, specifically in the film market area. Kosslick has initiated the addition of new berlinale components such as the World Cinema Fund and the Talent Campus serving young filmmakers, specifically from developing countries. With a well deserved reputation for creativity, professionalism, upbeat disposition and wit, Kosslick has been able to significantly increase corporate and public funding of the berlinale and attract support from politicians as shown by the 2006 berlinale visits of the German Chancellor Merkel and the Secretary of State Steinmeier.