“Alright ladies and gentlemen, we are now arriving at the Tegel Airport in Berlin. Please fasten your seatbelts and we will be landing in 10 minutes,” announced the pilot. I quickly fastened my seatbelt and stared out of the window, thinking to myself: ‘This is it. This is Berlin, I am finally here!’
But let’s backtrack a little. It all started seven to eight months ago when I met Maheen Zia (Pakistani filmmaker) face-to-face for the first time. She quietly watched my first student short film “The Critic” and smiled. “Very nice” she said. I then promptly showed her the trailer for my featurette “Dhood-Pati”. She watched intently and said, “You know, maybe you should apply for the Berlinale Talent Campus”. I ignorantly asked, “Berlinale Talent Campus? Is that a film workshop?” Very politely she answered, “Kind of. They invite filmmakers from all over the world each year, and you can attend seminars and other events related to filmmaking”. I quickly noted down the URL and applied for it as soon as they began accepting entries.
Almost six months later, I got an invitation via email to join the 2011 Berlinale Talent Campus #9. I was thrilled beyond belief.
The Berlinale Talent Campus # 9 was a weeklong event in Berlin that took place from February 12 through February 17, full of seminars, workshops and lectures from expert filmmakers like Kerry Fox, Paul Schrader, Isabella Rossellini, Shekhar Kapur, Alex McDowell, Istvan Szabo, Ralph Fiennes and even social figures like Harry Belafonte (I even had a chat with Peter Cowie, a famous film analyst and historian). The classes ranged from Editing, Cinematography, Film Criticism, Film Theory, Direction, Actor’s Studio and so much more. Additionally, we also got free tickets to watch films at the Berlin Film Festival 2011. So as you can imagine, this was quite an experience!
Each day started at 8:00 in the morning; we travelled by bus to HAU 2 (one of the auditoriums for the event), stood in line to get the tickets for the upcoming events and ate breakfast together. And after that, it was ‘live and breathe’ filmmaking!
The best kick I got out of all this, was meeting young filmmakers from around the world. There were 150 filmmakers from 88 countries (Adnan Asim was the only filmmaker from Pakistan, other than myself), each with his or her unique perception towards the art of filmmaking. I met people from places that I have read only on paper, such as Estonia and Slovenia. I met Anna Pujol Tauler (production designer from Spain), Mauricio Durán Blacut (documentary filmmaker from Bolivia), Punspender Singh (film actor from India), Zalina (director from India), Pablo Borghi from Argentina (composer), Ishtihaque Zico (director from Bangladesh), Matthias Quandekker (Dutch actor) and the list was endless!
We not only discussed various films but also shared our thoughts on different ideologies, cultures and even international politics. I indulged myself in various cultures such as Cuba with a young Cuban talent Ivonne Cotorruelo and shared joys of being a vegetarian with Kim Munsamy (who had flown in from South Africa). I even found a fellow ‘The Smiths’ fan, Ben Soper, a British screenwriter!
At that moment, I wished that, ‘If only the politicians from around the world could see this we would have instant World Peace!’ If only it were that simple…
The immensely talented work not only amazed me beyond belief but also encouraged me to work even harder. And quite consciously, also reminded me what Pakistan is up against. This campus was an experience that every young filmmaker should partake in. The three essential lessons I learned at the week-long event are:
- Never compromise on your point of view, always stay true to yourself.
- Always be modest about your work, no matter what!
- Your goal in life should be filmmaking, not fame and fortune – that is the by-product of it.
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