"Big images need big screens"

May 2015

Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick  as a guest at Robert Bosch Academy 

"The Berlinale is not just a film festival. It is a cultural event that opens a window onto other societies and, in doing so, contributes to international understanding", said Dieter Kosslick, Director of the Berlin International Film Festival, on 28 April 2015 at the Robert Bosch Academy. Kosslick was a guest of the "Film Screenings @Academy" series where artistically significant films with a political message are shown to a selected audience. Professor Joachim Rogall welcomed the 150 guests on behalf of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. In conversation with Sandra Breka, Head of the Berlin Representative Office, Dieter Kosslick offered a glimpse into both the past and the future of the Berlinale.

Cinema brings people together
"Just a look at the origins of the Berlinale shows that culture builds bridges", explains Kosslick. A CIA employee set up the film festival during the Cold War, when the different national powers were competing with one another in all spheres of life. For instance, Kosslick referenced the magnificent buildings on the Stalinallee in East Berlin, which the West answered with their modern creations in the Hansaviertel. Rather than causing a rift, the Berlinale actually brought people together. Thousands of people of East Berlin streamed into the western part of the city where, for a few pennies, they could watch films from all around the world. "Thank God today the Berlinale is no longer in the hands of the Americans, but rather in mine!", joked Dieter Kosslick, but then added seriously: "Bombs have neither brought peace in Iraq nor anywhere else. Only culture can do that."

Exclusive German premier
The winner at the Berlinale 2015 has also served as a "window onto another society" during the Film Screening @Academy. The film "Taxi", by the Iranian Jafar Panahi, is officially starting in German cinemas in the summer, but on this evening it already caused great excitement among the guests at the Robert Bosch Academy. Dieter Kosslick described the tearful reception of the "Golden Bear" by Panahi's niece as the most moving moment of this year's Berlinale. The eleven-year old girl accepted the award on the director's behalf because he was under house arrest in Iran.

No contradiction between art and money
The Berlinale director also proudly pointed to the success "Taxi" has enjoyed in France. Granted, there are fewer copies in circulation there than there are of Fast and Furious 7, but each copie of "Taxi" has reached significantly more viewers. "A creative low-budget film with a highly political message beats a Hollywood heavyweight that cost millions to produce – this alone makes it worth organising film festivals every year", says Dieter Kosslick. "As a side effect, we're also showing that art and commercial success are by no means mutually exclusive."

Ben Hur on the Apple watch
When questioned about the future of the Berlinale, Dieter Kosslick's answer is pragmatic: Further growth is no longer possible. The festival’s capacity to rent cinemas and sell tickets has been exhausted. Whether the Berlinale will have to evolve programmatically will have to be decided by his successor. However, one thing is certain as far as Dieter Kosslick is concerned: People will continue to go to cinemas just as they continue to go to rock concerts in spite of Livestream and Spotify. "Just imagine trying to watch Ben Hur on an Apple watch. It's ridiculous. Big images need big frames."

Purivatra thanks Kosslick
The project "Film Screening @Academy" was created by Mirsad Purivatra, Director of the Sarajevo Film Festival and Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy. At the second Film Screening @Academy on 28 April 2015, Purivatra provided a short introduction to "Taxi". In addition, he thanked his friend Dieter Kosslick and the Berlinale team for their cooperation in promoting young talent and for providing many years of inspiration. "In Sarajevo, we follow very closely the path laid down by our big brother in Berlin", acknwledged Mirsad Purivatra.

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