Awards where awards are due

By BERLIN LOVES YOU . December 15, 2008


Last week we had the honour to attend an awards ceremony at the Filmhaus on Potsdamer Platz, in the Sony Center buildings. A friend, Luca, was due to receive an award for his work on technological innovation in the film industry. Luca created an online marketplace for film-makers and film festival organizers, and when he had told me about that project several weeks earlier my first thought had been: Who needs that?

Obviously this reaction is ample testimony of my ignorance when it comes to film-making. Because as it turns out, there is an urgent need for such a marketplace indeed. With more than 800 annual film festivals around the world and thousands and thousands of directors trying to get an audience, the process of placing the right films at the appropriate festivals so far has been a nightmare. No more, because with Luca’s website, film-makers get access to a comprehensive festival calendar, including all prerequisites: formats, deadlines, festival topics, legal issues – everything. On the other hand, festival organizers won’t have to browse throught hundreds of DVDs and accompanying leaflets sent in by hapless directors anymore since much of their applications will be done and previewed online from now on.

Prosecco and hors d’oeuvres were served as a small crowd gathered for the ceremony. As was befitting for a proper German award, His Excellency the Kultur-Staatsminister would be handing over the prizes – and as was befitting, too, a substantial amount of money would change hands on that occasion. 25.000 Euro to Luca, 25.000 more to another team and their project. The location at Sony Center was a proper stage for this as well; from the 4th floor you look down right into the yard which from up there looks quite a bit like a giant modern Amphitheater. All very posh.

So on it went. Speeches were held, respect was paid, and as my companions Marco and Flip dozed off into their Prosecco-induced stupor, it was me who had to point out the essential goodness of this evening. Because as both the Kultur-Staatsminister and Luca underlined, this award here was pretty unique in the world. In the film industry, most non-experts follow only the actors’ or directors’ awards, but in the shadow of those, I was surprised to learn that it’s German companies that are habitually being showered with high-ranking accolades for technical innovation. In other words: Right there, we were witnessing a ceremony that, in a niche that most movie-goers overlook, fosters some rather significant developments on the bigger picture. Developments that seem to be a lot more substantial than what some over-hyped startups in the Berlin “cool” scene are churning out.

And what’s more: Our much-maligned political and cultural establishment with all its detachment and formality seems to be supporting the right thing here, not only with words but with tangible assets and funds!

All this I pointed out to my somewhat sluggish fellows.  So it was a happy crowd that, after the ceremony, walked over to celebrate in style at the Ritz Carlton bar (my choice). Luca placed his award certificate, indicating the sum of 25.000 Euros, on the table so that proper credit was established. After midnight, we went home with the good feeling that Berlin even allows for some poshness where poshness is due – and that this wasn’t all bad.

Not bad at all, in fact.


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