In this interview, Matthijs Wouter Knol, the programme manager of the Berlinale Talent Campus tells us about the concept of international talent campuses and the idea behind the brand new Berlinale Residency.

The Berlinale Talent Campus celebrated its 10th anniversary last February.
How do you remember it? Did anything special happen on the occasion of this anniversary?

This anniversary edition was certainly a special one, in several ways. Apart from a great line-up of filmmakers joining the programme to meet or work with the group of Talents, I think there was a general feeling that the Campus had grown amazingly quickly into a very special event for emerging filmmakers in the past decade, setting the tone for the rest of the year for many of the participants. Especially this year, the close connection the Campus team managed to build with many film professionals all over the world was very tangible and many of them returned to join us again in some way or other. However, we didn’t want to celebrate ourselves in particular. The focus of the Campus is to bring emerging filmmakers a significant step ahead, in various ways. We felt this year we were able to use the anniversary to do that even better.

The Berlinale Residency is a new initiative of the Berlinale. Why did you decide to launch it now? And why is it important for the Festival to start a professional programme like this?

With 10 years of the Talent Campus in Berlin and over 4,000 alumni who attended in the past decade, we wanted to think a step ahead and find a way to keep filmmakers connected to the Berlinale, even though they might have been at the Campus quite some years ago. In the past years, we met several people working on projects we would love to support again, but this never really fit into the February time slot. The idea for the Berlinale Residency came up at the Campus a couple of years ago, to create a space for filmmakers beyond the Campus programmes, connecting them even closer to the festival and the Berlinale Co-Producton Market. With all the programmes the Berlinale has developed since Dieter Kosslick became festival director, there was one important group still being overlooked: filmmakers having made their first or second feature-length narrative or documentary film and struggling to make a new one, including the challenge to make films that will appeal to audiences. At the same time, knowing how many new film projects are being presented to the market every year, we have actively developed a programme where directors and producers work closely together with industry professionals, helping them to find that audience for the film. Berlin has the largest film festival audience worldwide. We want people to see and discover films. The Berlinale Residency will help filmmakers to reach them.

The participants of the Sarajevo Talent Campus describe the Campus as a very familiar one, because of its scale and number of participants. Can you define the campuses by their differences? Is there any couleur locale ( italics) in each country?

One of the reasons to export the Campus concept to carefully selected film festivals was to create a way for emerging filmmakers from that particular region to meet each other in a more small-scale environment, with established people from the region supporting them and working with them. By doing so, both young and seasoned filmmakers can address issues dominating the discussion in the region, which might be co-production with Western European countries, social and political issues, the current state of film financing of the regional film funds, the way people present themselves and how they can improve that, the diversity in storytelling traditions. Of course there are differences in the programmes in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Durban or Guadalajara. Their size differs and, apart from English, programmes are sometimes predominantly in another language (with English translation)- which is also the case at the Campus programmes in Latin America or in Tokyo. These differences also directly benefit the programme in Berlin: it is way easier to get a profound idea of what the emerging filmmakers in various parts of the world are currently dealing with, what their particular challenges are, what they are looking for specifically: it is never the same.

What do you think is the best way to bring out the most of the Talent Campus? Is there any chance of crossing borders for Sarajevo Talent Campus participants?

First of all to be prepared when you travel to a programme. You get so much more out of it when you know whom you’ll be meeting, what the idea of the Campus is. The Talent Campus is more than just following some master classes and workshops and seeing what sticks with you and what doesn’t. It is a programme carefully woven together in which people have an opportunity to show themselves, to discuss, to refresh their minds and to get new ideas — many of which can be supported with the help of partners or funding bodies we involve in the programme, all looking for young people daring to turn their ideas into exciting films, together with others they have met during the week of the Campus. Every Campus, including Sarajevo, does that in its own way. It’s about rediscovering and redefining what you want to do, where your passion lies, and how you can best connect to others. At the end of the week, filmmakers should head home with a new perspective on themselves and their work. Less is not enough for us.

text: Zoltán Aprily