Berlinale Special

That special time of the year if you are a Berliner and movie enthusiast, as special as the extraordinary history of this city. To attend again last week the 73rd annual Berlin International Film Festival, for a 4th year in a row, was a great joy.

A festival that enriches winter nights. Cinema that has the power to inspire.

Berlinale Palast

In the last years I was attending venues all over the city, seeing a mix of different sections – movies or documentaries from the Competition, Special Galas, Panorama, or Encounters. This year, I focused only on screenings at the main theater and heart of the festival, Berlinale Palast on Potsdamer Platz.

All 15 sections of the festival are briefly explained in my first Berlinale article from February 2020. Exactly before the pandemic started. I am glad I wrote that post mostly for myself, to remember details designed to be forgotten.

But how has it been 3 years already? In 2021 we had only an open-air Summer Special. And last year was a hybrid edition, with 50% of the cinema capacity allowed, featured in my 2022 retrospective. The festival was a constant in my life in Germany. How couldn’t it not be?

Competition & Tickets

Berlinale 2023 opened with Rebecca Miller’s drama film ‘She Came to Me’, in a Special Gala. However, 19 films were selected this year for the Competition section for the Golden Bear, and 16 films for the Encounters section. In the Homage night – Steven Spielberg was presented with the Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement by Bono himself.

This year, we had 21 venues in Berlin in total, and one in Potsdam. For decades the previous HQ used to be Zoo Palast in the West, now used for Berlinale Series screenings. The closing ceremony yesterday I watched from Manifesto, a new cool food market, also on Potsdamer Platz.

For a film festival founded in 1951, Berlinale is for me a versatile one, adapted to these times, which evolves from one edition to another. The program is constantly expanding, is not possible to see after work everything I would want, and it can be overwhelming at first.

The tickets at the main venue Berlinale Palast sell in a matter of seconds, although over 1600 guests get to attend, and cost 18 Eur. We can only book a maximum of 2 tickets per movie, and I happily gift the 2nd one to a friend or colleague.

Special Gala

Luckily I managed to buy tickets, including for a Special Gala in order to see Todd Field’s outrageous TÁR. The film is about Lydia Tár, the fictional conductor of the most important German orchestra, who falls out of grace. There was a lot of excitement in the air for this German premiere night. One of my favorite actresses, Oscar nominated Cate Blanchett – walked on the red carpet. She was next to the entire cast, including Nina Hoss.

The movie was filmed in Berlin and the rehearsals for the Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 take part also at Berliner Philharmoniker. The scenes reminded me last time I was at this modern concert hall was in January 2022 and that I need to return soon.

TÁR is an engaging film and a tribute to Berlin music scene. I was so glad I got to see it in such a special night. Was a week and an edition to remember.


Winner of the Golden Bear for Beat Film was Sur l’Adamant by Nicolas Philibert, and of Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize was Roter Himme by Christian Petzold, plus many more awards. The movie I hoped would win the Golden Bear was “Past lives” about a Korean concept called ‘in-yun’, about destiny and connection between people.

The 74th Berlinale will take place from February 15 to 25, 2024.

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