Here in Berlin, every second person I meet claims to be a film-maker so it is no wonder that there is a continuous stream of films being made and displayed in the city.
They are very different – probably a reflection of their very diverse locations.
A Night of Short Film Wonderment at Cafe Hilde is all very sophisicated; the crowd, dominated by ex-pats, sip on cappucinos and beers whilst being entertained by a range of high quality films (including BAFTA, Oscar and Berlinale winners and nominees) that centre around a certain theme (last week’s theme was music). You can normally see the programme of films that will be shown beforehand at Cafe Hilde’s website.
With Testbild on the other hand, you never quite know what you’re getting. Film-makers turn up with their films half an hour early and hand them over to be played. The crowd is mostly German, although many international film-makers have shown their films there and a number of films are in English.
As can be expected with such a format, the films vary vastly in terms of quality – from surprisingly good to astonishingly bad…
The vibe in the kino bar is relaxed; people come and go and there is usually a dog running about. What’s really special is that after each film is shown, the film-maker gets the chance to talk about their film and the audience can ask questions.
It’s great if you are a film-maker because it’s a chance to interact with other people in the business and see what they are doing, which is often more useful than watching highly polished pieces made with higher budgets. And if you are a film-maker (or a creative of any discipline) you’ll understand when I say that there is also a deep satisfaction to watching somebody else’s failures; it boosts our delicate egos, and gives us a chance to bitch at someone else’s work rather than our own.