"Spectacularlyunspectacular" is Dieter Kosslick's personal verdict on the fifthBerlinale under his direction which came to end this weekend with the awardingof the Golden Bear to Bosnian film-maker Jasmila Zbanic for Grbavica.
"Nothingwent wrong - except perhaps for the heating in the Martin-Gropius-Bau (MGB),"Kosslick remarked in an exclusive interview with ScreenDaily.
"Notone single star cancelled their trip this year. But the real highlights for mewere the fact that the German cinema was really strong this year, that RobertAltman's film went down so well, and that we were faster than television withWinterbottom's film (The Road To Guantanamo), whichscreened two days before the publication of the UN report on Guantanamo."
Accordingto Kosslick, the 2006 edition of the Berlinale had "come near to somethingI have been wanting to reach [over the last five years] - a highly professionalmarket-driven event presented like an independent festival."
Kosslick'sfive festivals since 2002 have seen the launching of new sections andinitiatives such as the Berlinale Talent Campus, Perspektive Deutsches Kinoand, most recently, a Berlinale Kindergarten.
"Idon't think there is anything more we can do to this Berlinale, it will staylike this for a while now," said Kosslick.He vowed to deal with any teething issues raised at the expanded market at the Martin Gropius-Bau this year: While many had been bowled over by the new market venue's architecture, the building's status as a museum had its drawbacks for functioning as a trade fair in the 21st century.
For example, due to strict fire regulations, only around 2,000 people were allowed to be in the building at one time, which led to those accredited delegates without market badges having to wait temporarily outside in the cold until the numbers inside had subsided.
"We will see how the market develops and will not prevent anyone from doing their business in Berlin. I think we will do everything to ensure that the technical infrastructure is available for the market's expansion however this may be done," said Kosslick.
It remains to be seen whether the EFM is able to expand up on to the third floor of the MGB - there is apparently resistance to such a scenario from museum staff unwilling to vacate their offices
And an expansion into Berlin Abgeordnetenhaus building could hijack the relaxed atmosphere created by Sonja Heinen and her team for the Berlinale Co-Production Market held there.Nevertheless, Kosslick is convinced that the move to the new venue, which he jokingly refers to as the "Market-Gropius-Bau", was the best way of responding to the EFM's position in the annual market calendar vis-a-vis Cannes and AFM.
"Speaking from a father's perspective, the first edition of the market at the new venue isn't having to put on babywear and grow slowly. From the very outset, we were dressed in a sailor suit!", he declared.
While speculation had been rife ahead of and during the Berlinale that this year's EFM might be the last edition headed by Beki Probst, who launched the event at the Berlinale in 1988, Kosslick gave a clear vote of confidence in the market director.
"Of course, we have to see the best way to manage this enormous event", he noted.
"Karen Arikian and Beki have done a fantastic job together and we have to see how we can structure it. So long as I am here at the Berlinale, Beki will also be here. A change in the sense that Beki would leave us is not foreseen in our programme."
The56th edition broke all previous attendance records: more than 150,000 regularcinema-goers bought tickets to see the 360 films in this year's programme, 10,000more than in 2005.
Thenumber of accredited delegates rose from 2005's 17,000 to 19,000 (including3,800 journalists) from 120 countries.
For full analysis of this year's Berlinale, seethis week's Screen International.