Germany's largest film festival, the Berlinale, opens on February 15. From the #MeToo movement to Wes Anderson's opening film, the festival's director Dieter Kosslick reveals what makes this year's program special.
DW: For the first time, the Berlinale's opening film will be an animated movie, Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs." What do you find most interesting about the film?
Dieter Kosslick: All of the Wes Anderson films we've shown at the festival until now — I believe four to date — were very different; each one of them was really great. "Isle of Dogs" is once again completely different; it's an animated film. We had not seen anything like it previously. Dogs are the stars of the movie, that's very interesting. These dogs lead us to Japan and tell us a terrific story. Even though the film is very entertaining, it's also a very serious story. So it's a completely new Wes Anderson.
German films have always been strongly represented at the Berlinale. There are four German works in the competition this year. What themes are German filmmakers addressing?
The films are all very different and address different topics. There is an artists' biopic ["3 Days in Quiberon," by Emily Atef, exploring Robert Lebeck's photographs of Romy Schneider].
Another film deals with flight and exile ["Transit," by Christian Petzold].
There's also a powerful epic depicting the relationship between two young people ["My Brother's Name is Robert and He is an Idiot," by Philip Gröning].
Then there's a very beautiful movie which uses magical realism to portray a love story in a wholesale market hall ["In the Aisles," by Thomas Stuber].
Sexual assault claims have shaken the film world over the last few months. How is the Berlin International Film Festival showing its support with the #MeToo movement?
Shortly before the Berlinale, there was the Sundance Festival and the Golden Globes Awards. Our festival is followed by the BAFTAs, the British film awards, and then the Oscars. All of these events have the #MeToo campaign in the foreground, and we are in the middle of this discussion too.
We are showcasing different initiatives and campaigns, and setting up a special counseling corner where Berlinale guests can report their experiences with discrimination or sexual abuse. We are also holding panels on discrimination and diversity in film, and much more.
Will we need to wait to see more diversity in films or is a change already noticeable?
That's an important point. People have developed a stronger sensitivity to these issues when they watch films. I believe we are already seeing more diversity, but that is just the beginning. It will be followed by an avalanche of changes — not only in the film world, but in other fields of arts and culture.
Next year you will be directing the Berlinale for the last time. The discussion surrounding the renewal of the festival has already begun. Do you feel that the Berlin International Film Festival needs renewal?
That's obviously a difficult question for me to answer, as I've been dedicated to continuously renewing it with my team. Every year we've introduced new initiatives to the Berlinale's program. It might be better to ask those who will be in charge of renewing the festival when I'm gone.
The jury is led by Tom Tykwer. What makes the renowned German filmmaker a good head of jury?
He's a very good filmmaker. We've known each other for a long time, since his very first film. I've always wanted Tom Tykwer on the jury. By the way, his film "Heaven" with Cate Blanchett was the Berlinale's opening film in 2002, which was my very first year as the festival's director. I believe he's an ideal jury president. He hasn't had time until now because he is always so busy, but now he could make it and is happy to be there. The jury is made up of very competent and illustrious members, so I believe they will come up with a good decision.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
There's this moment — one can describe it as a magic moment — when it all starts. I get out of the car and see all the photographers and the great atmosphere on the red carpet and throughout the city. Everyone is looking forward to seeing the many different films. It makes me feel good, because I know that my team and I have done our work. I let the public and the critics take care of the rest.