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We Make Reality
By Donal Foreman

The Talents Left.The most asked question at any film festival is always: "What films have you seen so far?"

It's a reasonable question, and of course the movies we see are important. But at any festival — and especially one as rich and multifaceted as the Berlinale — our experiences are as much defined by what goes on outside the films. To say that a festival is about more than movies isn't to belittle cinema, or to imply that it's all just an excuse for a week-long party. However, if we accept that films are not an end in themselves but rather a way of engaging with life, then surely film festivals exist for this purpose too: as a way of being with people and being in the world. Festivals can fail in this project just as dismally as films, of course; anyone who's been to a party full of phony industry smiles and handshakes knows this all too well. But at their best they can be an expansion of the kind of exchange, stimulation and discovery I, for one, go to the movies for.

The Berlinale Talent Campus represents a particularly fine model of this kind of festival environment. I should admit I've seen a pretty paltry number of films this week. But the kind of extra-cinematic experiences I've had have been personally beneficial in a way that — and as a filmmaker who can't see myself doing anything else for the rest of my life, I don't say this lightly — cinema simply can't provide. Now might be the time to admit: life is more important than film. Besides, like director Tom Noonan said, anything that helps you become a better person helps you become a better filmmaker.

In this context, we shouldn't be stingy in our use of the word filmmaker. I was surprised to meet a few at this Campus who were reluctant to use the word for themselves — at least not without the tag "aspiring" or "wannabe" preceding it. Such reluctance implies that "filmmaker" is a title one is allowed to assume only at a certain point. But why? If you make films, you're a filmmaker. In fact, I would go further: anyone who contributes to film culture is a filmmaker.

While writing and directing films and writing film criticism are distinct practices for me, they are both part of the same project. When I, or anyone, tries to understand a film and communicate that understanding, or tries to alert others to the work of a neglected director; these are filmmaking activities. And looking at the work of film curators in Berlin, such as Marc Siegel's excellent "Underground/Übersee" series in this Berlinale, has convinced me that programming can be filmmaking too.

The exchange between all these related vocations that a film festival provides is invaluable. Even more so, the fact that these exchanges can be continued and sustained over the internet means that our ability to support each other has never been so great. One of the reasons, I think, that much of the best American cinema during the 1960s and 1970s is unheard of is that independent filmmakers of the time, such as Robert Kramer or Jon Jost, were working in isolation, with no ties or even knowledge of each other's activities. And if such work could go unknown and undistributed in the USA, one can only imagine what work we might have missed from places like Africa or South America during this time.

There's no reason for this to happen today.

What we have at our disposal now is the capacity to support each other and our filmmaking in ways never previously imagined — and this could change the more than just the films we go to see.

Donal Foreman

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Berlinale 2007

bullet. Festival Reports

Talent Press

bullet. Introduction
bullet. The Talents
bullet. Saturday Feb 10
bullet. Sunday Feb 11
bullet. Monday Feb 12
bullet. Tuesday Feb 13
bullet. Wednesday Feb 14
bullet. Thursday Feb 15