A Tale of Two Winter Film Festivals - From Sundance to Berlinale
by Alex Billington
February 5, 2015
From one to another, the adventure continues. In 2014, I was lucky enough to be invited by Fox Searchlight to fly to Berlin to catch the world premiere of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel (here's my review). It was an unforgettable experience, and I had a blast attending the Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, one of the biggest festivals in the world (started in 1951). I am excited to reveal that Berlin asked me to return again this year as a press guest of the festival, meaning they really wanted me to come back and see more films. There was no way I could say no. So only five days after returning from the Sundance Film Festival, I am headed out again onwards to Berlin for yet another film festival. I'm ready, bring on the films.
Sundance takes place in January at the end of the month, and for the last nine years I've started my year by attending that fest. I love Sundance and it has a special place in my heart. I saw 30 films at the festival this year and we recently posted our Favorite Feature Films and Favorite Documentaries. Most press are too tired to continue from festival to festival, and it's also expensive, but thanks to the invite from Berlin this year I'm able to make it to both. I'm excited to keep seeing films, as I am always driven to explore and discover more all over the world. Plus it helps that Berlin has an enticing line-up of big premieres this year.
First and foremost, I'm most excited to see Terrence Malick's long-awaited new film Knight of Cups (see the trailer), premiering as a centerpiece in Berlin. Other films playing there that I'm keeping an eye on: Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth, Simon Curtis' Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren, Pablo Larraín's new film The Club, Anton Corbijn's Life with Dane DeHaan, Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Wim Wenders' Every Thing Will Be Fine with James Franco, Bill Condon's Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen, Isabel Coixet's Nobody Wants the Night, Jafar Panahi's Taxi and Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert with Nicole Kidman. Plus Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella is playing out-of-competition, too.
Follow my coverage of Berlinale here on FirstShowing or on Twitter @firstshowing or view my photos on Instagram @abillington and stay tuned for reviews, blog updates, photos and more from the festival. Berlinale is yet another film festival that I've come to enjoy so much, and I'm genuinely looking forward to returning. It may be cold and snowy this year, but that doesn't stop me. Winter festivals are my jam. I love the snow and winter, and I love seeing films in the snow and cold. Oddly enough, Sundance (which takes place up in the mountains of Utah) didn't get much snow at all this year. My favorite memories at Sundance involve seeing films in the middle of a blizzard. It's crazy, but is so much fun and I revel in these moments.
For now, it's time to embark upon my flights across the Atlantic and into Germany. One festival to another, continuing deeper into the world of cinema. Onward to Berlinale. What will we discover out there? What films are waiting to breakout? What filmmaker has made their next masterpiece? Let's find out. Stay tuned.