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Source: Ali Ghandtschi

Maryanne Redpath

The 2022 Berlinale is Maryanne Redpath’s final edition at the festival, where she has worked since 1993 and has been head of the Generation section since 2008.

During her tenure, Redpath has overseen the change in name and format of the youth-focused strand; was head curator for the Berlinale special series NATIVe from 2013 to 2019; and help to set up the inaugural European Film Academy Young Audience Award in 2011. 

The New Zealand-born programmer talks to Screen about the coin toss that brought her Berlin, the importance of the youth-focused strand and working with different festival directors.

What brought you to Berlin and the Berlinale initially?
The flip of a coin. In 1985 I was in England and had no money left; it was either Madrid or West Berlin, because of the geography, politics and art scene. I flipped a coin, Berlin won and I stayed. In 1993 I started at the festival working in the office of Moritz de Hadeln [Berlinale festival director from 1980-2001]. I was really into film, had been doing a lot of artwork, performance, and teaching children and young adults English, theatre and drama skills. Multitasking, like many Australians and New Zealanders do to survive.

What is the value of a standalone youth-focused strand in the official selection?
There are hundreds of standalone youth and children’s film festivals, and a couple of big festivals that have a youth or children’s sidebar. But Berlin is the one they all look to, to work on the idea of what programming for a young audience could be like. We make age recommendations starting at a certain age group, and it’s open upwards. So we don’t put a roof on any age recommendation, which means adults, film industry members, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, people off the streets discover the films for themselves as well.

We do stretch boundaries, we know that. We give them the hard stuff. Adults say, “You can’t show that film to children, that girl is so alone in the film and the adult is crying.” And I say to children, “How do you feel about the film?” And so many times the child will say, “It’s OK, I understand it. Come on mum, let’s go home and talk about it.” Parents try to protect their offspring; there’s a reversal of that going on. I truly believe that when we as adults listen to young people, and have our ears and hearts open to their reactions, we can learn a hell of a lot.

The filmmakers receive feedback from our younger audiences which they never would have dreamed of – they leave Berlin with a completely different view of the film which they have just made.

Are there ever issues regarding censorship of the content for younger audiences?
For a film to enter the festival, [the filmmakers] have to be sure that we’re going to be able to screen it – they have to have the acceptance of censors in their own countries. We’re like any other section of the Berlinale in that sense. The nudity and sex aspect – it’s also a matter of how it was made. We always look at that when we’re screening a film. It’s not like we set out to shock people or make them feel uncomfortable. We can differentiate from year to year – whether a film is upper Kplus [the younger children’s strand of Generation], or we recommend it for 13 years and up; or it makes the spring into 14+. It makes a huge difference in growing up in terms of what you can take in, what was too uncomfortable for you. It’s not much different than curating for adult audiences – you’re looking for quality all along the way.

How have the last few years working with Carlo Chatrian as artistic director been different from Dieter Kosslick’s time as festival director?
It is different. Dieter had his positive aspects, I learned a lot from him. Carlo can focus on the programme more than Dieter could – he is much more involved in the selection. It has been good for me because I’ve had to start articulating again, to talk about films in a way that found our common ground. Carlo is such a cinephile. We speak English with each other, and it’s lovely because his Italian comes through in his form of English, and he finds expressions that are so spot-on about a film.


Source: Casatarantula


What are your highlights from this year’s Generation programme?
We have 23 feature films in Kplus and 14+ and eight of those are documental works – that is incredible for us. Alis is a Colombian film about 20 young women who used to live on the street, who are brought into a home. They work with the filmmakers to create a fictional co-student called Alis; through this student they open up to talk about themselves in the third person, about why they were on the streets, what happened to them, the violence they have faced.

We opened with Allons Enfants [about a hip-hop dance group in Paris] – it’s much more than a dance film, but hopefully people will have the feeling of getting up and dancing as well. And Boney Piles, shot in the Donbass region in east Ukraine: children who have grown up only knowing the last nine years of war. The director has worked incredibly intimately with them, and the children allow him to see their souls, full of wounds and scars. Hopefully adults will watch that film and think who’s responsible for the situation – how dare we? And the young audiences will have a lot of empathy, and be able to make the comparison to how lucky they are in their lives here.

What are your fondest memories from your time at the Berlinale?
In 2007 we screened Tarsem Singh’s The Fall; Tarsem came [to Berlin], it’s an incredible film. During the festival I decided to go to the gym at 8am. I was in the changing rooms after a shower and my phone rang; it was Tarsem saying, “hi Maryanne, I’m at the airport. Thanks for a great time, I just wanted to say goodbye.” And I thought, “Oh wow, here I am dripping with water, just out of the shower and Tarsem Singh is ringing to say goodbye.” That was a real highlight. Also having a hug with Tilda Swinton. The stars for Generation are not the well-known ones; they are the young people who are not really actors and actresses, from Iran, or India, or Myanmar, or the Australian outback. This was always the most special experience, for them to be able to see themselves on screen together with our audiences in the Berlinale setting. That’s something I feel proud of.

Why are you moving on now; and what are you moving on to?
Why, why, why… It’s just time! It feels good. I have been doing it for a long time and it’s time to step back, step down. I’ll have to learn how to do Christmas and many other things which I haven’t done for 30 years. I have different avenues which I’m exploring, and I’m pretty sure I’m not retiring. My life is supposed to be creative, and I want to get back to having a creative time and seeing what else could happen.