Beginning of a dream called Berlinale!
When I was in the film school, (Film and Television Institute of India – FTII) Berlinale was one film festival in Europe that was always a dream. Showcasing our film there or being there to watch the film and the spirit of that festival had always been a dream to all students at FTII. However, I was surprised when I received a call from Goethe Institute in Bangalore. They said, Mr Girish Kasaravalli had suggested my name for a visit to Berlinale 2010 in February. The following steps took some days, but then I was selected for the visit to Berlin along with a senior journalist from India Today (Delhi) Kaveree Bomzai. This was a program where people from about 20 countries were invited to Berlin to attend the Film Festival. We were supposed to meet several important people there and understand various aspects of International Film Festival, Film Market, and International Co-productions etc. In order to share all the things I experienced in Berlin, I decided to write diary (Diary of Abhaya Frank?!) so here I start…
Reached Frankfurt at around 1:30 (Indian Time). Due to bad weather they had not served us breakfast in the Luftansa airline. So after we took off from Bangalore, in about two – three hours, we were given bread, rice and sambar with some juice. After that we had no chance to eat or drink anything other than water!
Anyway, the flight to Frankfurt was full of turbulent weather. I somehow slept well. Thanks to the economy class I was traveling in, I was jammed between a stout Indian and friendly Canadian Grandmom! The old lady was very interesting. She is a teacher for differently able children in Vancouver. She also had a great taste for photography as she had done a course and was teaching the schoolteachers as to how to use the Audio-visual medium for the teaching purposes. Sometimes I wonder, even in the most developed countries, these things are still in such basics. We reached Frankfurt on time but we couldn’t land immediately due to permission delay. So it took almost 40 minutes to land. When we landed, out side temperature was – 4 degree! But the flight was connected to a heat maintained tunnel and through that we got on to the airport. Then I took almost 30 minutes walking that huge airport to reach the terminal where I was to get my connecting flight. Still hungry! Things on display look attractive however; I have no guts to spend my first Euros there. Ha ha ha.. It’s funny sometimes as how our hunger can take a back seat when you are scared! Last time in Germany, I had been to the Frankfurt airport and spent some time there. However, this time, I can’t recognize any of the places in the airport. It is so huge that there is lot of spaces where I felt that I had suddenly come out of the airport! However, the system is also so beautiful that it guides you very easily to the place you want to reach. So I reached on time to the connecting flight and they boarded the flight on time.
But then the flight took almost one hour to fly as they were cleaning the runway from snow! Yes! There was snow all around and it is so deathly when there is snow all around. The guy sitting next to me was an animation graphic designer. We had nice time talking about Indian Cinema and German Cinema. He was talking about how quality television content is killing German cinema. We had an interesting conversation. His father, he told was an editor for television program. Finally the flight took off and we landed in one hour at the Berlin Airport. There we had to get down from the flight and get on to a bus, which would then take us to the terminal. Here though I wore a jacket, the cold hit me for the first time. When I reached the terminal, there was no one to pick me up. I asked for the help desk of Berlinale and reached it comfortably. Though they are not connected with this program directly, they helped me find my guide for the day. I was told the guide would reach me in 10 minutes. I waited. By then two Indians walked towards the help desk. I introduced my self to one of them. He told me that he too is from Bangalore. Shocking, soon I realized it was Santaanam! The person whom I had met twice before! Horror! I had completely forgotten him! I asked his pardon several times, but he was sweet to let it go. I had not expected to meet him there like that! Anyway, good to have familiar faces around for the festival. Santaanam was the director of the Directorate of Film Festival for Indian Government. Good friend of B Suresha and Shylaja Nag. The other guy with him was the director of Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) I was still waiting for the guide who was to reach me in 10 minutes.
Yes 10 minutes it was when Natalia came help me. She is from Goethe institute. 7 feet and some inches, strong lady! Very pleasant and very helpful. She took a taxi and asked him to drive me to the hotel, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel! She stayed back at the airport, as she had to receive more guests arriving at the airport. I took off from there in the taxi still hungry! Taxi zoomed in to the city. Beautiful city completely clad with snow. Those images, which we see from north India, USA or European countries was there for me to enjoy. The taxi driver was some how impatient about everything on his way. He was driving very fast and I was enjoying my views from that air-conditioned car. There is lot of India in Germany I guess. On the road, I passed by an Indian Restaurant named Bolliwood! Back at the airport, the immigration officer asked me if I knew Shahrukh Khan and I also over heard few conversations of people where they were excited about Shahrukh Khan coming to Berlin! Surprising. We reached the hotel after about 30 minute drive.
The hotel is so huge that it took me some time to find the front door! I know, all alone, in cold (- 5 in Berlin) with three bags I was struggling to find the main door! I was embarrassed. However, there was no one who knew me there so took the chance and tried all the buttons, somehow it opened! Oh! La! I got the room. Natalia had told me that she would come to the hotel and take me to lunch later.
Natalia came, and we went out for lunch with few others from our delegation. I was meeting those people for the first time. We had a wonderful lunch. Then after a break of one hour, we went to the opening ceremony of Berlinale projected in a film theater live from the main venue. However, I had to come back early as my jetlag was too much. I slept at around 10pm local time and slept till 7:30am next morning. Hopefully I am over my jet lag today! Yesterday I came to know that some of my fellow participants had come 4 days earlier and were adjusting them self for the sleep cycle! Yesterday they were all very happy when I was fighting to win over my sleep! Anyway… I close for the day.