As the Berlinale drew to a close with the out of competition screening of Gangs Of New York, festival director Dieter Kosslick for one was happy.

With the threat of war being declared on Iraq at the back of people's minds during the festival, Kosslick observed that the festival's motto of 'Towards Tolerance' "was like an umbrella for everyone to gather under".

"Having someone like Edward Norton speaking out and Dustin Hoffmann with his wonderful speech at 'Cinema for Peace' all contributed, I think, this year to the overall festival being a statement for peace."

Reflecting on his second Berlinale as director, Kosslick told Screen International "it was relatively clear to me on the first evening on the red carpet that the happy and relaxed atmosphere from last year would be here again. In a way, the festival is democratic because, whether big or small, all of the stars felt happy and well represented.'

"The big surprise was that the Talent Campus worked so well and everyone was so enthusiastic about it', Kosslick added. "Many celebrities came to speak and all of the talents asked really bright questions."

Kosslick was similarly cheered by the strong reception for the German films, especially in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar which Alfred Holighaus organised for the second time this year. "One person said that it would be really nice for the German cinema if the Berlinale could go on for the whole year. I agree, but I wouldn't stick it out!", quipped Kosslick.

Although Kosslick has not yet set the dates for the 54th Berlinale, there looks like being a potential clash with Rotterdam, which has already announced that it will run from Jan 28-Feb 8 next year.

"We won't be orientating ourselves to the fact that they have programmed into our dates." said Kosslick.