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Film

Berlinale: 10 things you should know about Germany's most important film festival

It's an exceptional event: Glamorous stars meet challenging political filmmakers on the red carpet during Berlin's International Film Festival, the Berlinale. Get your facts straight here before it opens on February 11.

1. The program

The Berlinale's various programming committees managed the staggering task of selecting 434 films among the 7,004 that were submitted this year. There will be a total of 981 screenings to reveal these movies of all lengths, formats and genres.

2. The sections

The film festival's program is made up of different sections. While most of the media attention goes to the international movies selected for the official competition, art house and independent films can also be discovered through the "Panorama" section. "Generation" is devoted to younger film viewers.

Those who want to discover the newest trends in the German film industry should look into the section "Perspektive Deutsches Kino." Avant-garde and experimental works are featured in the most daring section of the festival, "International Forum of New Cinema," or simply "Forum."

"Culinary Cinema" offers menus prepared by top chefs and shows films about food and ecology.

"Homage" pays tribute to the lifetime achievement of one of cinema's great artists: This year, the German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus will be honored. And finally, the section "Retrospective" explores every year a chapter of film history, focusing this time on the year 1966, a period of upheavals in East and West German cinema.

3. The competition

There are 23 international productions shown in the main section, although only 18 of these movies are competing for the Golden and Silver Bears. It will be the world premiere for 19 of the films on this list, and two of them are directorial debuts.

Berlinale Palast theater in 2015. Copyright: Berlinale

World premieres at the Berlinale are always a celebration

4. The stars of the festival

These big names are expected to walk the red carpet in 2016: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, the Coen brothers, Spike Lee, Trine Dyrholm, Michael Ballhaus, Emma Thompson, Jude Law, Julia Jentsch, Don Cheadle, Susanne Bier, Isabelle Huppert, Susanne Bier, Gérard Depardieu, Pernille August, Daniel Brühl - and many more.

5. The juries

Beyond the main jury, led by Hollywood actress Meryl Streep, there are nearly 50 other independent juries awarding further prizes in other categories.

6. The longest film

The artist Ulrike Ottinger traveled from Alaska to Kamchatka, going through Chukotka, following the journeys of Adelbert von Chamisso, James Cook and other world explorers. Her travels were turned into a 709-minute movie called "Chamisso's Shadow." It's the opening film of the "Forum" section. In case you're wondering, the 12-hour screening will include two intermissions.

7. The shortest film

A Golden Bear will be awarded to one of the short films shown in a separate competition at the Berlinale. This award makes the film eligible to an Oscar nomination for the following year. Among these films, the shortest one is "In the Soldier's Head," a four-minute experimental animation by the French artist Christine Rebet.

Food trucks during the Berlinale in 2015. Copyright: DW/Dunja Dragojevic

"Culinary Cinema" is not just for the eyes: Food trucks offer special menus near the major Berlinale venues

8. Initiatives for refugees

Nearly 80,000 people have found refuge in Berlin last year. The Berlinale will also contribute to the city's welcoming culture. Some refugees were invited to do an observational internship during the film festival. Donations for victims of torture will be collected. Another initiative will allow volunteers to help refugees find their way around the festival's events. As part of the program of "Culinary Cinema," the Sardinian star chef Roberto Petua will be operating his food truck with a Berlin refugee initiative.

9. Social media

The film festival will not only be happening in theaters, but also online. Different social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn - enable everyone to join the party from all over the world. Posts with the hashtag #BerlinaleMoments are collected on the page moments.berlinale.de.

10. The profile

It's not just an industry networking happening but also the world's largest public festival, selling over 335,000 tickets for its different events. Art, glamour, parties, and business all meet during these two special weeks.

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