Dieter Kosslick notes strong Asian, German, French selections for 2012 Berlinale; popular themes include upheaval and exercise of power.

Cannes and Locarno’s model of a president and artistic director heading the festival might be an option adopted by the Berlinale some time in the future.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily four weeks before the beginning of the 62nd edition, festival director Dieter Kosslick said: “I think we will analyse all of the options in order to optimise the running of the festival. It has reached a size where the three jobs I have are quite a bit to deal with.”

“But that doesn’t mean that we have something concrete in mind. At the same time, it’s not that we are not thinking about this because it is all part and parcel of how the Berlinale overall has to position itself in the future. There are various factors to consider such as the timing of the Oscars, the development of the market, but also the fact that we are a major city film festival and a large audience festival.”

With 15 Competition titles confirmed so far, Kosslick observed that “both thematically and geographically, we have many films coming this year from Asia, and particularly China and Indonesia. There is also an interesting focus on France this year, beginning with the opening film Farewell My Queen and going through all of the festival’s sections. Moreover, we have two French jury members [Francois Ozon and Charlotte Gainsbourg] in the International Jury.“

Eight titles selected to date have German majority or minority participation, so German filmmakers and (co-)producers will again enjoy a record presence in the Competition on a par with 2011’s tally of eight films involving German directors or German production partners.

2012’s eight include new films by three German filmmakers who are no strangers to the Berlinale Competition – Hans-Christian Schmid (Home For The Weekend), Christian Petzold (Barbara) and Mathias Glasner (Mercy) – as well as the German majority co-production Meteora by Greek director Spiros Stathopolous. The selection also underscores German producers’ readiness and openness to come onboard projects from around the globe as shown by their co-producer credits on such diverse films as Bence Fliegauf’s Just The Wind, Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, and Brillante Mendoza’s Captive.

Recalling his impressions of the past months spent sifting through the many entries for the Competition, Kossick noted that “times of upheaval and new departures are also very present in the films we have screened, with many films coming from Africa and Arab countries. We are now getting to see the material people shot there a year ago and much is in the form of documentary.”

The subject of migration is another strand running through many of the films: “some of the films address the question of the exercise of power as seen in the Taviani brothers’ Caesar Must Die or the effects of right wing radicalism in Benedek Fliegauf’s Just The Wind. At the same time, there are quite lyrical films like the Greek film Meteora - which I would describe as being like a fairytale - or Tabu by Miguel Gomes.”

“The greatest challenge in putting this year’s competition programme together was, on the one hand, wanting to attract new names to the festival, but also having big stars in Berlin,” Kosslick suggested, adding that, “on the organisational level, one of the first challenges is how our new cinema in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele will function as a venue for premieres. But we are very confident and it is a great building with an amazing architecture.”

Angelina Jolie will present her directorial debut In The Land Of Blood And Honey in this new screening venue on the festival’s first weekend.

“More of a challenge in-house was the introduction of online accreditation for the first time this year,“ Kosslick continued. “It wasn’t easy to get all of this into place, but we seem to have managed it without too many complaints. And it will be interesting to see the reactions to our decision to reduce the number of our publications actually appearing in print. The catalogue will, of course, still appear in its paper form.”

“Other challenges we have had to face came with the digitisation of the screening venues which we have financed ourselves: there are constantly new formats appearing where you have to get new equipment, but that is really difficult for us since we have 50 cinemas and can’t install all of these different projectors in every one.”

In response to industry gossip about the future of the Berlinale and European Film Market’s locations at Potsdamer Platz, Kosslick countered: “All of our contracts run until 2018 at Potsdamer Platz, and we won’t be changing anything on this during the rest of my time as director to 2016.”

“Hopefully, in 2013, we will have the Zoo Palast back with its 5-6 screens and I believe one could then think about giving a new structure to the festival with all of the various elements that evolved over the past ten years,” he added.