Those uninitiated in the idiosyncrasies of the film business would have come away from Berlin with their heads spinning.

The market itself, of course, was confusing enough without a really clean-cut theme. In good times, one can wheel out cliches about booms and ringing tills but in the downturn, it's tougher. Conversations about the state of the business are skewed by the quite understandable desire not to talk down the market, but the Martin Gropius-Bau was far from a mausoleum. Trading was patchy rather than dead.

Where there is a consensus is that we are in a period of change. More than that, there is recognition that the industry's challenges pre-date the global downturn.

Of course, the fact that the credit crunch has turned into a full-scale crash is where much of the immediate pain is being felt. Last year, the notion of 'illiquidity' seemed like fanciful doom-mongering but we have to accept that there is no turning back the clock. The hedge fund boom is over and will join sale-and-leaseback funding, consigned to the dustbin of history.

There will be significant new forms of investment but the industry will need to adapt to take advantage of them. "No one knows anything" is a smart comment, not a business plan.

Our uninformed visitor will have noted that we are good at identifying our weaknesses. In fact, a little self-flagellation is all part of the fun. Knowing where we are going is a different matter, and the bright sparks speaking at events around Berlin were offering contradictory messages.

Let's just take one area - the optimal size of businesses. That we are entering a period of necessary consolidation, where size will matter, was a common theme. There are too many companies chasing too little capital, goes the argument.

There is also a gap between the fewer but grander studio franchises and single-territory distribution that can only be filled by bigger business, perhaps on the PolyGram scale.

On the other hand, there are a growing number of smaller digital producers and companies which believe that small is beautiful. Embracing new technology and cutting out the middle men between product and customer is critical - to them.

To make matters more confusing for the outsider, both are probably right. There is no homogenous entity called the film industry. Predictions for the future of film are very different at the top of the scale and the bottom. In fact, that gap is widening.

What unites the industry seems less tangible than ever. Vincent Grimond, CEO of Wild Bunch, cheekily but correctly suggests that a big uniting factor is that people think it is cooler to work in film than any other business on the planet. More seriously, the industry at every level attracts extraordinary talent. Yet there is one overriding unity that must be the guiding factor in the future - the audience.

We have no room for complacency there. Ben Waisbren, talking at Screen's European Film Finance summit, has a point when he says it is the nature of film to soak up any available finance regardless of where the audience might be for the end product (see In Focus, p6).

It was true of private equity and it's certainly true of much government subsidy. There should indeed be money available for cultural product that would never be made under pure market conditions. But let's not pretend there are no films made not on their merits but because they tick boxes for tax breaks. The levels of production in Europe are not only unsustainable but overproduction squeezes out work of real value.

In a film world divided between multi-million dollar 3D blockbusters and micro-scale digital distribution, the common factor that makes film film must be connecting the wealth of talent with audiences.

On a personal note, this is the last opinion piece I will be writing for Screen International and I would like to thank all those who have given support, feedback and constructive criticism. This is an industry at every level packed with the brightest and best.