Today we were going to meet the officials who are responsible for our stay here in Berlin. We were requested to be dressed in suits. Since I didn’t have the suit with me for this tour, I had to borrow it from one of our guides, Martin. When I reached the hotel lobby, my jacket was ready and it was a perfect fit. I can’t thank my friend Martin enough for this favor. After meeting at the lobby, we started in our special bus towards the Goethe Institute first. There we met one of the organizers of the Berlinale to know more about the festival organization and their co-operations with other festivals, their selection process in various countries, and their vision for the coming years of cinema etc. it was a very interesting session.
After this session came a session from the director of the Panorama section. He spoke about the selection process for his section, his vision and goals for the present films and the future of cinema. It too was an interesting session. It was very interesting as how they were looking at the Bollywood film industry. It is very nice of them to see it as a different way of expression and not to simply dismiss it. They also spoke about how Bollywood productions work about the release time and how they don’t go well with the festival system. I guess, it is because of this narrow thinking; our films are not being able to cash in the global market much. And even if we enter our films in to the festivals, we are mostly happy that we get a chance to showcase our film to the people from around the glob. But today I understood as to how festivals are not just about showcasing films but how they are a meeting point where we can sell our films and buy new films for distribution in our country. It is like weekly market for cinema! I guess, we have been too much keen on focusing our resources from within our market. It is time for us to make the change and find a global market for our films. I am sure that would give a total different dimension even to the stories we would be telling.
After these two interesting sessions, we jump back to the bus and head towards the Federal Office of External Affairs. But we just realized that we had some more time before we could reach there. So our friendly guides decide to make a small city tour there and then, how kind and thought full of them. I think, In Berlin, pages of history lies everywhere. The bus stops around next corner and we get down for a little walk. We see the traditional Jewish houses, the places where artists used to live and paint etc. the art, war, culture, destructions everything juxtaposed in the pages of history here. Painful to think how difficult it would have been for the people of those times. I cant forget one very important statement made by one of our guides, “In Germany, people say we are proud to be from Berlin, Cologne, Munich etc. but no one says, I am proud to be a German!” oh! Their history has been so dark; these sweet people still carry that part of sadness within them. The wounds are too deep in their hearts that it can’t be wiped out even for this generation. I can only hope that they would recover from their pains.
Then we reach the Federal Office of External affairs office. We were invited for a lunch with higher officials there as a gesture of respect. The lunch was elaborate and traditional. Our group by now has become very friendly with each other and we have started playing pranks all the time. But this was the situation; the group had to be serious! We had a nice time at the office. From there, we head towards the Parliamentary building.
The parliamentary building is situated exactly where it used to be for over hundred years now. The modern building is in fact constructed over the old building; the modern architecture has been wonderfully blended with the old building. It was a sight to see. We had a small conducted tour inside the building. The parliament as such didn’t attract much of my attention, as it is almost similar to what we have in India. But the building is a masterpiece of art. In the basement of this building, we were shown some graffiti written by the Russian soldiers soon after wining over this building during the Second World War time. Those charcoal writings are still preserved on the wall as it is even though they have renovated and re-constructed almost the entire building! The present building is not only a design wonder; it also is highly environmental friendly. The dome structure on the top of the entire structure follows the path of sun during the day and collects the maximum energy through which the entire building functions! We also had an audio tour to the entire building. General public has the access to climb up the dome through a spiral walkway. The walk way is exactly on top of the parliament which sits inside the building and we can see the sitting place if we bent down from the walkway. The entire building is clad with hundreds of meters of transparent glass as a symbol of transparency in administration! Wow! Symbolism in politics! I was pleasantly surprised and appreciate the culture these people have. The audio tour would ask us to stop once in a while and look at few things around us. So it was funny to see that all of a sudden a big group of people would stop and turn right or left. The system is very beautifully done. It was amazing experience.
We rush back to hotel, get ready for the symphony orchestra. It starts at 8 and we were there on time. It was almost like the ones we see in films. I didn’t understand much about the music. But the performance was much appreciated by the audience. I was appreciating the wonderful building they have built for the concerts. Since Berlin is one of the places where modern architecture was born, we can see the impact and master designs in almost every important building in the city. The entire building was built in layers. It had different stages all over. Even the place inside the auditorium was in various stages. So though the audience were sitting in a well organized seating arrangement, it was looking like we were all sitting by a hillside and looking at the valley where the orchestra people were performing. The place of performance was completely wooden and the black suits the players were wearing looked so stunning. It was an amazing experience just to even sit there and listen to some wonderful music.
After the show, hungry and tired we all return to the hotel. Some people who still had some energy left in them walked towards the cinema screenings. Some of us who were returning to the hotel decided to eat at a place near to the station. It was a nice hotel. We went in and got the coupon cards. These are mini credit cards. We can use them inside the hotel at various counters and then while returning they will check how much we have spent and then bill in the final counter. We went and checked out various counters. The Pizza counter had something to offer in vegetarian. So I ask the person standing by the counter if I could order a Pizza. And lo! He got angry for some reason. He started saying something in German language. I was not able to understand anything. I kept telling him that I could only understand English. But he was really abusive (if not in words surely so in body language) I was upset. I didn’t buy anything from that hotel and just walk away. Why was he mad at me? Or did he have some problems back home? I can only imagine. Anyway, on my way back to the hotel, I see a stall of Burger King. I stop by and buy a vegetarian burger. I eat and get back to the hotel, as tomorrow there will be programs, which I was very much looking forwards to. So that’s all for today. Good night.