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How was this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale? Well, it was cold, wet, and windy! But despite the weather it was a fantastic year "  lots of warm films and more than 300,000 audience members, all in the middle of the vibrant and exciting city of Berlin. There was glitz and glamour on the red carpet (though it’s always a little toned down at the Berlinale because of the chilly temperatures). Hugh Grant, Greta Gerwig, Tim Robbins, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage and Paul Rudd were all spotted, as was the timeless Jane Fonda, who is still a knock-out beauty.


I love Asian cinema, and was thrilled to see the world premiere of the new Wong Kar Wai film THE GRANDMASTER. We’ve welcomed his films at the Chicago International Film Festival in the past, and over dinner with him in Berlin he shared with me that years ago he wanted to shoot a film in Chicago, but couldn’t handle the weather or the expenses! Hopefully we welcome his talents here soon.


Many of the films at the festival this year honored older women in strong performances and winning films hailed from Spain, Romania and Poland. Themes of food (Germans love a good meal), politics (there was even a demonstration in support of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi), and LGBT issues permeated the films I saw. I was delighted to attend a screening of PRINCE AVALANCHE by David Gordon Green. One of the standout U.S. films, it was loved by the audience and picked up a few awards (we honored Green at our CineYouth Festival years ago, so it’s great to see his continued rise to success!).


I averaged about four feature films a day, as did our Director of Programming, Mimi Plauche. We both marveled at how perfectly executed the Berlinale is. With a thriving film market, films from every country you’ve ever heard of (and some you haven’t), the audience this year was captivated. We’ll pick up many of the top Berlinale films for the Chicago International Film Festival in October and we’ll keep scouting out the best in the next few months with trips to the Guadelajara International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival and more.  


Michael Kutza
Founder & Artistic Director