by | Art, indiefilms

Boddinale is an alternative, competitive, independent film festival held on the same dates as the Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival.

This year’s festival is the third edition, and it is bigger than ever, with 82 films and a second venue added. In addition to being held in its traditional home, the underground art club Loophole on Boddinstrasse, this year’s edition will also feature additional seating at the Kaleidoskop art gallery, which is right across the street.

The festival’s full name is the Boddinale Community Movie Festival.

The emphasis on the local Berlin filmmaking community can be felt in several ways. First of all, one of the festival’s main requirements is that the filmmaker has at least some connection to Berlin, i.e. live at least part-time in Berlin. Another requirement is that the filmmaker be present at the screening of his or her film, for maximum interaction with audiences and fellow filmmakers. Admission to all the screenings is free, which ensures maximum attendance – if you’re in Berlin and interested in film, it’s almost like you have no legitimate excuse not to attend. And another aspect of community is its majority focus on narrative film, which should stimulate interest among a broad spectrum of viewers. There are a few quality documentaries and practically no inordinately obscure avant-garde video-art-type items.

The films’ quality could surprise you.

There are hundreds of high-quality films that are not selected and/or submitted to the Berlinale or even Berlin’s other parallel film festival, the Berlin Independent Film Festival. Films like Andrei Gontcharov’s “Berlin Troika,” which shows on opening night and details the difficult-to-dire predicament of an interpreter in high-level talks that quickly devolve into drama.

The festival is not about glitz and glamour, and so does not have ultra-famous guests, but it has been discovered by art-world luminaries from other cities, such as Barabara Rosenthal, an American avant-garde multimedia artist from New York who visited the festival in its first year, came back the following year and is attending again this year.  She will present the European premiere of her short “The Bath” on Wednesday February 11, and the world premiere of her feature “Playing with Fire: The Making of Playing with Matches,” which shows on Thursday, February 12.

Technological advancement has made the festival possible on a minimal budget.

This year’s festival cost under 1,000 euros to organize. The screenings, which feature shorts, documentaries and one or two feature films per night, run simultaneously on five screens with high-quality video projectors – three screens at Loophole and two at Kaleidoskop. Films are submitted online, typically through a password-protected Vimeo link, and then the selected films are downloaded and edited into a screening sequence.

And like any film festival worth its salt, Boddinnale has awards.

The Best Feature and Best Short awards will be selected by the Jury consisting of novelist Michael Lederer and Daniel Neun, a scout for the distribution company Basis-Film Verleih Berlin. The Best Feature award winner will receive 1,000 euros worth in camera equipment rentals from and five days free rental of a Red digital camera from Red. The Best Short award comes with 500 euros worth in rentals from and two days free Red camera rental. The festival also has audience awards called the Boddinale Community Awards, determined by paper-ballot voting at the screenings. Also, Loophole staff will select the winners of the Loophole Awards.

The festival is the brainchild of Gianluca Baccanico, a Loophole events organizer who hails from Rome. He runs the festival with the other three Loophole staff, who are an international bunch – fellow Italian from Milan Mattias Turini, Bosnian-by-way-of-Switzerland Zoran Stevanovic and German Jan Gryczan.

“When we launched it, the idea was half a joke and half a serious thing, but since the very beginning, we always treated the space not as a club or bar, but as a home for artists, so our public was 85% artists,” recalls Baccanico. “Still is, but back then, we basically had artists coming here and partying. The problem was, we were giving space to musicians and DJs, but we have a lot of friends who make movies, so we thought, let’s give them a space.”

“Let’s take time during the Berlinale, as a symbolic period, so that there are more people interested in cinema. The idea was we screen one movie every night from our friends that are usually in this community. And then we just dropped an update on Facebook – if you want to send us your movie, do it, and in two weeks, we received 50 submissions, from everywhere, so basically it automatically became a real festival out of nowhere.”

The festival got unsolicited support from Berlin-based media such as the official website of the city of Berlin and the BVG public transport U-Bahn train TV, and to this day, the festival organizers do not know the specific people behind that.

“That is something I think none of us expected, especially because we did not advertise in a bigger way,” said Stevanovic. “We saw the reaction, and it was nice to see that [the festival] just got taken up.”

The Boddinale runs from Thursday, February 5 to Sunday, February 15 with screenings from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily at Loophole, Boddinstrasse 60, and Kaleideskop, Boddinstrasse 7, in Berlin-Neukölln. If you miss the festival, you can catch the Boddinale Winners Night on Sunday, February 22nd at 8 p.m. at Kino Moviemento, Kottbusser Damm 22 in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

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Article by Kirill Galetski

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