Berlinale Talents 2015 Round-up

It's been a week since the Berlinale Talents wrap-up party and we've finally recovered! Here's a round-up of what we saw / heard… (If you don't know anything about the Berlinale Talents Campus, here's a quick intro).

There were too many interesting sessions going on to attend them all but the most valuable experience by far was being immersed in a totally film-focused space for a whole week. Meeting a wide range of talented film-makers from all over the world (75 countries represented at this year's edition), is a great opportunity. From what we gathered, there is nothing on this scale in the festival circuit (let us know if there is and we'll go!), so we feel privileged to have experienced it first-hand and would strongly recommend it to anyone thinking of taking part. 

Here's some of our personal highlights from the Berlinale Talents 2015:

The Memory of Violence
Joshua Oppenheimer (The Look of Silence) & Marcel Ophüls (The Memory of Justice) talked about documenting the search for truth in some of history's darkest episodes. How do you get assassins and torturers (many still in power in Oppenheimer's films) to speak in front of a camera about atrocities they've committed in the not so distant past? Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing" won a BAFTA for Best Documentary and was nominated for an Oscar in 2014. His latest film The Look of Silence is a sequel to TAOK, and deals with a family that survived the genocide in Indonesia. Within the film, the men who killed people in that family are powerfully confronted.

Many of Ophüls films also revolve around atrocities committed in wars. It was humbling to see how Ophüls (87) was in awe Oppenheimer's work; Ophüls also received a Camera Award for his life work at this year's Berlinale. I haven't seen any of the films of these two guys but the clips they showed were powerful pieces of filmmaking- definitely for 'the watch list'. 

You can watch this session here (film extracts removed for copyright reasons) 

Sound Studio composers and sound designers (from L to R): Warren Santiago, Xingyu Li, Ng Chor Guan, Zethu Mashika, Adriana Espinal, Howard Shore, Agatha Chodyra, Nick Buckton, Victoria Wijeratne, Carlos Andrés Gutiérrez Quiroga, Ania Przygoda, (bottom row) Angel Pérez Grandi and Blair Mowat, (not in the frame) Olivier Militon, Olivier Alary, Jana Irmert and Linus Nickl. (Pic courtesy of @BlairMowat)

Howard Shore: Scoring Goals + Meet the expert
The 3-time Oscar winning maestro spoke about his trajectory, his approach to composition, his long-standing collaboration with Canadian fellow David Cronenberg and how The Lord of The Rings has taken over the best part of his last 10 years. 

We (the Sound Studio folk) had a private session with Mr. Howard Shore the next day, where we got to bombard him with questions. He seemed very proud of his work on Silence of The Lambs so I asked him, when did the sound design stop and the score start in this scene? His response: "Silence came out in 1991, too long ago to remember"! 

Speaking on how he approaches a new project, Shore explained that he gathers and absorbs as much information related to the subject as he can before writing single note. He then puts all that information aside and writes the music without looking back. He never composes on a piano or any instrument and he's always thinking of harmony and counterpoint. He encourages collaboration with the sound designer (hurrah!) and doesn't attend the dubbing stage because there is never a chair for the composer. And because, as he rightly puts it; it's a war zone! 

All-in-all it was great to meet a composer of his stature and a generous gentleman too.

Watch this session here (film extracts removed for copyright reasons)


Berlin's The Post Republic cinema stage

Dolby® Atmos Masterclass 
As part of the Sound Studio we had a day-long session mixing three soundscapes at The Post Republic's Dolby® Atmos dubbing stage with German re-recording top dogs Martin Steyer and Lars Ginzel (whose necks you can appreciate in the picture above). One of these soundscapes was our own which you can listen to below in a pseudo A-B (pre/post Atmos mixing) comparison. This session was a real eye-opener to the possibilities offered by object-based audio editing, mixing and playback. In essence, Dolby® Atmos truly expands the width and clarity of the audio-visual field. The surround experience is so immersive that sound placed in that space blends naturally, as opposed to the "traditional" surround channels that have to be used more subtly. Definitely the way to go for sound technology - the question remains, how long is it going to take before it becomes the standard?

Watch this space for a deeper look at Dolby® Atmos in the coming weeks!

Here's a few other sessions we missed but would've loved to attend:

- Imaginary Worlds: Exploring the Unknown with Alex McDowell, Bruno Setola and Jeff Watson (USC/5D Institute)
Building experiences and worlds in which stories unfold in new mind-blowing ways, redefining the limits of design and narrative, moving into a landscape where art and science, design and engineering are inseparable.

- Road, Movie: Films in Motion with Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and Sebastian Schipper (Victoria)
Discussion with two filmmakers whose literally "moving" films can exemplify the best of what cinema can offer.

- Kill Your Darlings  
Editor and director Susan Korda (For All Mankind) believes "Good editing is like good sex" and in this masterclass she proves just how.

- "Bigger Than Life" with Sir Ken Adam (Dr Strangelove) and Alex McDowell (Minority Report)
An exhibition featuring drawings, photographs, films and objects from Adam's work; from idea to paper to set to screen. The tour was led by production designer Alex McDowell and concluded with a get-together with Adam.

And there were many more… To watch some 25 panels and masterclasses that took place at the 2015 Berlinale Talents, head to their Youtube channel.

So, did you get to go to Berlinale too? What were your personal highlights? Did you see any films you'd recommend? Are you planning to go next year? I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts...

Happy Weekend everyone!