Telegraph : Report on Berlin Film Festivalvendredi 25 février 2000
Source : Telegraph
Condensed from The Daily Telegraph (London) :
The Arts : My red-carpet moment with gorgeous GeorgeA British documentary was the high point of the Berlin FilmFestival, but it was George Clooney who stole the show
By : Andrew O’Hagan
WHEN I said the other week that I’d go to infinity (and beyond)to please my readers I wasn’t joking. I went to Berlin. And let metell you something : if infinity can be described as a glorious building-site populated with people who love George Clooney, than I’m trulya man of my word. Yet the Berlin Film Festival has a reputation forbeing serious-minded and a bit intellectual. The people who go theretend to be genuinely curious about, say, the films of the Nepaleseunderground, and most are happy - no, eager - to spend theirafternoons in a makeshift bunker, watching solid, grey, 15-hourmovies about half-starved babushkas with no teeth washing the dishes.
But really they want George Clooney. The Berlin Film Festival hasa new home in the city ; it snuggles at the heart of the Potsdamerplatz,surrounded by American hamburger venues and buildings that look likeburst cushions. There’s a heavy sense of the Free West. And the modernfilm festival itself has embraced much of that culture : Potsdamerplatz lookslike a busy dream of Houston, Texas, with a touch of the demented, orthe Franz Kafkas, wobbling in the shadows.
I’d say there was a war going on - between the small and worthy, on theone hand, and the glamour of Hollywood on the other.
While the international press community was busy selling its first-born forthe chance of a photo opportunity with George or Gwyneth, a small wealthof Mandarin-speaking movies plinkity-plonked happily for minimalaudiences up the road. There’s no point asking who won the war - justobserve the viewing figures.
The organisers had the good sense to open with a sort-of-German movie,the new one from Wim Wenders, The Million Dollar Hotel. It is set in LosAngeles, in a kooky residence that the publicity calls "a place for all kinds ofoddball characters and misfits who have somehow been left out of the Americandream". In the movies, these hotels are never ordinary or boring. They arealways filled with amazing trumpet-playing characters with big souls or a heroinhabit. But Wenders has made this into something slightly more than cool, whichis a stroke of luck, since the idea for the movie came from the terrifically self-conscious Bono, of the band U2.
Mel Gibson plays a tough-nut FBI agent who begins to investigate the death ofone of the hotel’s residents. The only pity is that Wenders’s film is about LA - itshould be about Berlin. "The hotel can be understood as a kind of madhouse,"said the director in the full, anachronistic glare of the Potsdamerplatz. "Ultimately,compared to the world around them, the supposedly crazy inhabitants appearquite normal and healthy."