As director of the Berlinale's European Film Market (EFM) for 20 years, Beki Probst has borne witness to seismic changes at both the festival and the international film business. One of the most striking changes she has observed is in the attitudes of people attending the market.
'When they come to Berlin now, they are all programmed from morning to night,' she says. 'That's why they get so nervous ahead of the market asking when the screening dates are on the website.
'There is less of a spirit of discovery,' she adds. 'Now everything is much quicker. Beforehand, people wouldn't come until the first day, but now some are here two days earlier to get prepared and go through the programme. There is less human communication at the market these days as people don't have enough time. Most are communicating mainly through their mobile phones and laptops.'
All eyes are on the EFM as the first major market in a year of unprecedented financial uncertainty. Indeed, some EFM habitues will not be in Berlin this year but Probst is unfazed.
'We do have some changes because some companies have been sold to others, and the direction or policy of others have changed,' she says. 'You can't always say you will have the same people at the market each year. In a way, that's good. It is less monotonous.'
Probst says she has already noticed a change in how companies are spending their money. 'When a company is sending us a package of 10-12 films, I can see they are now differentiating between the films. For some titles, they want the more expensive (screening) slots and for certain ones, the less expensive ones. Or there is a difference made between a screening in a cinema or in a studio.'
Probst adds: 'Our strength as a market is stability and consolidation. We are not wanting growth for growth's sake. If, say, there were less films screening at the market this year, I wouldn't take it as a personal slight or a failure of the market. On the contrary, people would have more time to see the films.'
Probst describes her 20 years at the EFM as a 'wonderful and fruitful time'. She says the most difficult period was when the American Film Market (AFM) was held directly after the Berlin market.
'You work for months to make a market and it starts, and then three or four days later you see people packing and already going (to Los Angeles),' Probst recalls. 'It was very frustrating to see that although we did develop a good collaboration with Tim Kittleson at the AFM for the film prints. Today, we don't have that problem anymore.'
It was Probst who oversaw the relocation of the market from the Cinecenter in Budapester Strasse to Potsdamer Platz in 2000 and the EFM's second move from the Debis building to Martin Gropius Bau in 2006.
'The moving of venues was like when you move apartment or start a new job; you never know how it is going to be,' she says. 'I remember when I came to the Debis building I had a shock because it was so high. Somebody wrote that it was as tall as Notre Dame. The second challenge was the Martin Gropius Bau because it was very difficult for me personally to visualise a market in a museum.'