Masks were seen occasionally, worn by the more conscientious, and the parties were plentiful. Candy bars were open again with crowds gathering in foyers to chat about films they’ve seen and loved or, even more interestingly, hated. Still no food allowed in the auditoriums, but that was out of a sense of civility and respect rather than a fear of infection.
So it was that my esteemed colleague and trusty festival buddy, Kate Jinx, and I tackled life in the much-revived EFM. The Martin-Gropius-Bau was once again a hive of activity, every square inch of the place taken up by various sales agents, production companies and cultural institutes’ stands replete with flyers, poster and coffee on tap for the weary visitor. There was a sense of real joy among participants to see one another again in person – to come together to talk about our mutual love of cinema.
Which of course leads to the films themselves. What a fabulous program the team at the Berlinale put together this year. A comprehensive retrospective program honouring Disney’s 100th birthday, alongside a homage to Steven Spielberg plus some dynamite restorations, complemented a contemporary program brimming with diversity, quality and bold filmmaking, with a generous dollop of emotional heft for good measure. One film that really packed a punch was Dustin Guy Defa’s The Adults, starring Michael Cera, Hannah Gross and Sophia Lillis, about estranged siblings reconnecting when their brother comes to town. Suitably awkward and hugely affecting, the three leads deliver outstanding performances under the assured direction of Defa (Person to Person, MIFF 2017).