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Tickets? Tickets? "We ask for patience"

Everyone wants to be there, but tickets are scarce: the Berlinale is electrifying the capital like it hasn't been in years.

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Tickets? Tickets? "We ask for patience"

Everyone wants to be there, but tickets are scarce: the Berlinale is electrifying the capital like it hasn't been in years. But where can Kristen Stewart, Sean Penn, Kate Blanchett or even Boris Becker be seen? Which film causes a sensation and what are the biggest flops? Who shows up as a surprise and who causes a scandal? Follow the Berlinale live – even without a ticket!

The Italian Carlo Chatrian is the artistic director of the Berlinale. That is known. On the other hand, it is not easy to find out who their technical manager is. Maybe a person named Holger Schulz? On the festival website he is listed as Administration Manager. In any case, whoever is responsible for the accreditation system probably has German citizenship.

This is not supposed to be a special diss. In principle, it is a blessing not to have to stand in the long queue on the first floor of the Hyatt on Potsdamer Platz like in previous years and to frantically tick blue or orange slips of paper by the films that you can see at this or the next want to see day. When in doubt, whenever you needed it, the pen was gone, or after ten minutes you finally reached the counter with the friendly staff, who then informed you with sincere regret that the last tickets had just been sold. You just haven't gotten around to updating the front panel yet.

Oh yes, the blackboard. That was, so to speak, the announcement office of the punishing Berlinale god. As if Moses were receiving new messages every minute from Mount Sinai and had to cross out or add to the old commandments. Sometimes bids that have already been rejected are declared valid again. Hundreds of accredited journalists, cold sweat on their faces, ran back and forth between the queue and the board, graciously asking the man behind them to keep the space free, they just had to quickly check whether the film on the notice was actually still available. He was it! But only for the amateurs among the festival-goers was there a reason to breathe a sigh of relief. The others knew: it all depended on the insidious computers at the ticket counters; the analog board was possibly just not pasted accordingly.

In times of the pandemic, the long overdue digitization of ticketing was then completed. Now there is a separate sub-section of the Berlinale website where you have to secure your seats. You log in there with a different ID and password than in the "normal" area where you view the program and create favorites. Always at seven in the morning, just when you get home from the last party, tickets are activated for the day after next.

The new system was tested for the first time on Tuesday for the press screenings of the opening film "She Came To Me" by Rebecca Miller. After logging in – what was that password again? – found oneself on a page headed “Waiting Room”. A small digital man stepped in place in the middle of a red bar. "Due to the high demand, a login is not possible at the moment," it said soothingly. "When it's your turn, you have ten minutes to log in. We ask for patience."

You didn't dare to leave the computer, although a cup of coffee would have been nice. At pre-climate change glacial melt speeds, the male crawled forward. It was almost time for lunch when we finally got going. Three screenings were already fully booked, apparently by people queuing online in the middle of the night. It felt like 10 years ago when a new iPhone was introduced, or 25 years ago when a new Harry Potter was released.

The next day, Wednesday, when things really got going, so far from the Berlinale, which would only start on Thursday evening, but with the ticket booking, you were put to new tests, like in a computer game, that too familiarizes you with basic movement sequences before it throws the zombies, orcs or whatever at you.

Again the waiting room, again the red man, towards whom one now had almost friendly feelings - it was like seeing an old acquaintance again; the Berlinale now had something similar to a face, a little annoying little man walking in place. It's not as distinctive as, for example, the famous cartoon character La Linea with the big nose and dirty laugh, but that can still be. It is possibly a prototype.

Then, again after what felt like ages, the orcs came in the form of a lengthy movie list. Film after film was hastily packed into the so-called shopping cart. The threat of being thrown out again after ten minutes was emblazoned as a constant warning at the top of the page, a kind of memento mori from the film critic, too intoxicated with the success of having finally arrived. One could, one thought in panic, maybe save in between, i.e. book the already marked films. But would you then be thrown out again completely and would you have to queue at the end of the male queue? Better not to take chances.

So instead scroll as fast as you can, compare screening times, film length and cinema locations in ten open tabs. If you book a film that starts at 10 a.m. at the Cubix on Alexanderplatz and lasts two hours, you certainly won’t make it to the CinemaxX on Potsdamer Platz at 12:15 p.m. Instead of assisting the desperate journalist, the ticketing system laughs scornfully in your face. Could it perhaps be licensed to large corporations as a mixture of intelligence and stress resilience tests for managers?

That's just a little glimpse behind the scenes of the hard work of the critics. I could go on like this longer, but I think I should start getting back in line.

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