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Selection Committee Interview

Dec 12, 2019

Emerging from the screening room after two months of viewings, our selection committee members sat down for a chat about what they were looking for in this year’s applications.

Scouting for Talent

Dana: „The one question we’ve constantly been talking about during our selection process is: What exactly is this mysterious thing called talent?“

Agustina: „For me, it’s about the subjects you want to address in the filmmaking process and how you do it. We look very closely at the video samples and how the filmmakers explain their work – especially how reflective they are about their own work.“

Manuel: „We’ve been looking for people who have a voice and something to say, but who also understand their role as filmmakers and artists, as well as the responsibility they have towards the world and their colleagues.“

Marcie: „It’s important to reflect on the society you’re living in. It doesn’t matter if there’s an established film industry in your region or not, but we want to see the urge you feel to choose this art form and to share it with people.“

Manuel: „Also, I feel that in this particular moment in the world we’re following a system of rules and sometimes don’t notice them, and it’s important to know that we’re responsible because we’re artists and communicators and we need to challenge those rules and reinvent them for the future.“

Dana: „I think that’s really important for me. Oftentimes when you talk about film or about cinema, you tend to forget that cinema itself has many functions as an industry, or a medium, or an entertainment, but also as an art form; and of course, within the context of the Berlinale and Berlinale Talents, we have to deal with all those functions and all those roles of filmmakers.“

Manuel: „It’s also crucial to understand that for most filmmakers, or people in the film industry, it’s a big privilege to be able to have this profession. And this comes with a lot of responsibility, and we’ve been discussing this idea of content, where cinema is not only about following a formula, but trying to break rules.“

A Window onto Many Film Industries

Agustina: „Actually, every region we look at is different in its own way. It’s fascinating to me to be able to see what’s going on in different parts of the world and consider them each as a small industry. So sometimes it’s easier to see what’s going on there and to look for people who are trying to do something different or make a difference with their work, aesthetically or intellectually. But at least they’re trying to break some rules and not just follow the trends, and I think that’s what we are looking for.“

Marcie: „Yeah, we’re also looking for filmmakers who are trying to create a network, both within their regions but also in a global sense. We’re searching for people who like to network, give and share, because filmmaking is not a one-person show, it’s a team effort. So open-minded people, who are curious and interested in what’s going on in other regions – because there’s so much we share, we live on one planet after all.”

Dana: „Actually, it’s quite beautiful when you think about the theme of this year’s Berlinale Talents, which deals with collectives and collectivity. In a way the 3,400+ applications that came in are some kind of collective consciousness or archive of what’s going on in cinema, and the people we selected seem to carry in them the memories and the future of that collective consciousness.“

Agustina: „Absolutely, yeah.“

The Joy of New Discoveries

Dana: „We should also talk a little bit about the moment where you see something amazing and it really speaks to your heart before you actually know why it’s so good, and then the joy of reading an application and understanding a person who made something, and also understanding your own ways of viewing and your own position as someone in the selection committee because we have the same responsibility as the filmmakers, and we’ve been very aware of that.“

Marcie: „Yes, there’s so much joy in seeing someone creating their own signature and language. You get that immediately, even if it’s just three minutes or two scenes.“

Dana: „Although, future applicants, please don’t send in samples that are too short or that are just show reels or teasers because then it’s really hard. Those are more about selling. We really want to listen to you and fully experience your imagination.“

The Selection Committee Members

Dana Linssen is a Dutch film critic, philosopher and writer. She is the former editor-in-chief of de Filmkrant magazine, a long-standing film critic for NRC Handelsblad, the founder of the Slow Criticism Project and a curator of the Critics’ Choice at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. She has received several awards for her work as a film critic and has served as a Talent Press mentor for many years.

Producer Marcie K. Jost is the co-founder of Worklights Media Production, which specialises in arthouse documentaries, experimental films and new media. She is also a board member of the Werkleitz Centre for Media Art in Halle. She is active as a curator, teacher, creative producer and jury member. At Berlinale Talents, she is a long-standing member of the selection committee.

Manuel Abramovich is an artist and filmmaker whose films have screened at Venice, MoMA Doc Fortnight, IDFA and Cinéma du Réel. His short “The Queen” (2013) received more than 50 international awards. His second feature “Soldier” (2017) premiered at Berlinale Generation, while “Blue Boy” (2019) won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale Shorts Competition and a German Short Film Award. He attended Berlinale Talents in 2012.

Agustina Arbetman studied cinema with a specialisation in theatre studies. She has been the programme coordinator of Talents Buenos Aires since 2010. She has written and directed several short films and theatre pieces, and has worked on numerous award-winning shorts and features. She currently coordinates a film festival for Argentinian high school students and is the programmer for a film festival in Patagonia.