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Film

Festival survival tips from Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick

Get ready for the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival! DW asked director Dieter Kosslick what makes him happy about this year's program - and he revealed how he survives the big event.

DW: The 66th Berlinale is starting in a few days. What are you looking forward to the most?

I'm happy about all the guests that are coming and I'm looking forward to those films showing us what is going on around the world. I also have a general wish that the festival will be a peaceful event.

From sharing a stage with The Rolling Stones when they premiered "Shine a Light" in 2008 to getting former Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Berlin for the "The Road to Guantanamo" in 2006, there have been many highlights at the Berlinale. Which tops and flops are on your list?

I'll let other people talk about the flops - I see everything as highlights. The festival's films show what's happening around the world, and this is in line with our motto this year,

"The right to be happy."

This is not an easy goal. A lot of people are migrating; they have to leave their countries destroyed by war. They are tortured, they have no work, they are starving and they have to go to other countries. We call them refugees.

This year's festival will focus on refugees and migration too. As Berlin has recently welcomed 80,000 refugees, the Berlinale has also planned special initiatives. Tell us more about these.

First of all, I couldn't plan a cultural event without thinking about the people who can't participate and the people who are suffering. It is our responsibility to share culture. We are showing films about their situation, and we also have integrated refugees in our staff. We are collecting money for tortured people. We have set up a system of helpers to make it easier for refugees to go to the cinema. But most importantly, we allow people to learn more about the refugees' countries of origin through the films we show.

Anyone who has attended the festival knows it can be grueling. How do you personally get through this 10-day blitz of premieres, late-night parties and endless press interviews? We've heard you have a special diet?

Of course I have a special diet! I don't eat meat. I'm a vegetarian, so I won't taste this great pulled pork the British love so much. And I do yoga and I live a very simple, structured life. I can't waste my power on digesting a steak; I need my power to be happy with the Berlinale - and I am.

Name three things festival goers need to survive the Berlinale.

First of all, motivation: Sometimes it's pretty hard to get a ticket, unfortunately - although that's a good sign for us. Fans: don't give up in the queue! We know people who are now living together because they got to know each other while queuing for hours.

You should also bring cough sweets, because in the quieter films when somebody starts, it creates a chain reaction and all of a sudden 2,000 people are coughing in a kind of choreography.

And my final piece of my advice is that you should eat well to stay healthy. We have great street food at the festival. Most of it is vegetarian - but there will be some exceptions for people who cannot live without torturing pigs!

The Berlinale is held this year from February 11-21.

Dieter Kosslick

has been the director of the event since 2001.

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