We spoke to the curator of Berlinale Shorts, Maike Mia Höhne to find out more about this year’s selection nad the current state of filmmaking.

One morning we get a phone call in the office. Barbara, our colleague from the Datacenter calls: “Why do you want to give an accreditation to Joao Viana? He already has one.” – “What? How?!”- “He got one via the Forum… ” I do a quick search and yes, he has a feature length film in the Forum and suddenly everything makes sense: he has made a short and a feature, both based on the same material. I call my colleagues from the Forum: ” Do you have a film from Portugal in this year’s selection?” – “Yes.” –  “Are there parts in black and white and the rest printed in red – “Yes, why?” – “Me too” –  “What?” – “Yes, me too. You have the long version, I will screen the short version.” The power of cinema allows you to think about your subject in different ways, to tell stories and share moments with completely different approaches, to use footage in a liberating way: that’s how Joao, the director of Tabato and A Batalha de tabato explains his touch.

It is often the first film to be chosen that gives an idea about what is going to happen and about the films that will come up within the next weeks. This year, Una ciudad en una ciudad was the first film to be selected, like last year it was Say Goodbye to the Story. Una ciudad en una ciudad gives a detailed view into the tallest squatted house in the world. This squatted house represents a reflection of society, in Foucault’s sense. Many films of this year’s selection follow this idea. They go to special places, they go into detailed moments of life and find, like in a mirror, a picture of society. What is property – if property belongs to all? How do you deal with what is the same to all? What can you do if all you can do is wait? But life is not about waiting, but continuously continuing its own way. War gives a break to normal life.


When I select a film, I select a film. We watch it, we discuss it. I watch it several times and it still has to be interesting to me, even after I have seen it couple of times. And then we do research on the film and find out about the filmmaker – who they are, whether they have made any other films before, do I know them, etc. But still, I select a film: whether it was made by someone unknown, or by a famous name behind the oeuvre – it doesn’t matter. One of the most beautiful moments happens during the festival when we do our Artist Talks – having seen the movie and getting to know the artist and his/her ideas which translate much better through talking to the creator on stage is truly special. I love it!  Being selected for the Berlinale Shorts helps the filmmaker to take a huge step into the industry. Everyone wants to be included into the selection, because everyone is aware of the power of this festival. More than a thousand people see your film a day. This is incomparable with other feature film festivals. The attention that shorts get here is wide and open.

Berlinale Shorts is the only place within such an important festival, compared to Cannes or Venice, where all films are treated the same way. The Berlinale Shorts selection represents the current state of the art in short film making. We make no difference between a 5 minute animation and a 25 minute fiction film. No difference: whether animation, fiction, documentary, experimental, hybrid forms: all of these films contribute to the current state of the art. And, concerning the process of selection, they all contribute to the leitmotif. There is a constant movement in the form itself. There is communication in between the films as well. Bringing together contemporary positions with history and spanning the discourse about film, like this, through times. This year’s film Khutwa Khutwa / Step by Step examines the nature of poverty, religion and rigid educational moments. This film has its place in the canon of short films and on the other hand, is part of the mirror while going back in time. The other films reflect the basic question from today’s point of view.

When I started to work as a curator for the festival in 2008, I programmed Inventur – Metzstrasse 11 by Želimir Žilnik. He had won the Golden Bear with his first feature Rani Radovi (Early Works) in 1969. The future of filmmaking lies in its past. That is why I give an idea about what short film making is coming from on one hand – on the other hand, like in the case of Khutwa Khutwa, these films reflect the discussion within the selected shorts in one more way. Jumping back in time allows a different understanding of life. In 2010 I did two extra programmes for the 60th birthday of the festival – films made by German women in the 80’s. Still contemporary in their wants and needs. Early video works, wonderful short narrations – views into society.

We have been invited by the Zeit Online ZaloON. We will screen two explicitly wonderful shorts and talk about love on screen, extremes, images and stories with Jan Soldat and Zhou Yan. The creator of Geliebt (Berlinale Shorts 2010) and Shi Luo Zhi Di (Lost Land) (Berlinale Shorts, 2012), Zhou Yan is back to Berlinale Shorts with her latest film Ba Bi Lun Shao Nian. People from the edge of society are in the centre of her movies. Touching and revealing, they are always special. Zhou Yan brought a very feminine approach to this contemporary, exotic and moving Chinese avant-garde short film. Thursday 14.2. / 18-19.30 / ZaloON, Askanischer Platz 1.

text: Anita Libor