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Florian Weghorn • Programme manager, Berlinale Talents

“Berlinale Talents is an initiative in permanent flux”


- BERLIN 2019: We caught up with Florian Weghorn, Berlinale Talents programme manager, to take stock of this year’s edition of the initiative

Florian Weghorn  • Programme manager, Berlinale Talents
(© Ali Ghandtschi/Berlinale)

As the 17th edition of Berlinale Talents drew to a close, we had a chance to catch up with programme manager Florian Weghorn in order to learn more about the highlights of this year’s iteration, how it is possible to “fail better” while learning from your mistakes (see the news) and how the initiative intends to cope in the face of its impending "adulthood".

Cineuropa: Did you manage to learn from your mistakes in order to fail better in the future?
Florian Weghorn:
 Indeed; making mistakes has never been so much fun. And while revealing mishaps, flaws and errors with Sandra HüllerErika Lust (see the interview), André Téchiné and so many other guests, the “Mistakes” topic was just an icebreaker that allowed the Talents to discuss standpoints with more sincerity than ever before. By being the Berlinale’s think lab, we connect film creatives hailing from around 80 countries, so the questions of what is considered to be right in Lebanon, for example, or what might be wrong in Italy, lead to personal and, at the same time, universal exchanges of ideas. This collaborative process of communication transcending borders and barriers probably has the most permanent effect on our Talents and their future endeavours. We jointly failed forward.

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You had quite a versatile schedule that included summits with very different professionals and experts; what were some of the highlights at this edition?
Over the past 16 years, Berlinale Talents has become more than just a platform for talks with film-industry professionals. The new, dialogue-driven formats, in addition to the fact that the 250 participating Talents are already experts themselves in their respective fields, have a huge impact on our guests as well, either those coming from the market or from the festival. That being said, welcoming Tendo Nagenda, the new VP of Original Films at Netflix, to a circle of international Talents was definitely a highlight. The audience was able to hear his visions, but we were equally able to give space to the ideas and expectations of a younger generation of filmmakers who want their work to be made and recognised in these changing landscapes. Personally, I was very happy to plunge into discussions with Joanna Hogg and the eventual Golden Bear winner, Nadav Lapid, two filmmakers who are both lending Europe’s arthouse cinema traditions exciting new dimensions.

Did you also learn anything from the participating Talents this year?
To tell you the truth, the 250 Talents this year, as well as the almost 8,000 alumni we’ve had up until now, are my best sources of inspiration. Around 100 former participants return to the Berlinale with films every year – this time, for example, it was Nora Fingscheidt, who world-premiered, and won an award with, her debut System Crasher [+see also:
film review
interview: Nora Fingscheidt
film profile
 in competition. Thanks to its size and structure, Berlinale Talents is fortunately far from becoming an elitist hotbed only for our “friends and family”. Staying in touch in the long run and listening to the Talents’ experiences has become crucial. Among the 20 alumni guests this year, Adina Pintilie summed up her audience strategies for Touch Me Not [+see also:
film review
interview: Adina Pintilie
film profile
, cinematographer Diego García pulled focus in our Camera Studio, and David Lowery played long lists of music to share his process of creative trial and error with the Berliners.

Can you give us any information on what to expect at the 18th edition next year, given that it will have “come of age”?
The new Talents year has just begun, and after we get some sleep, we’ll soon embark again on adventures at our offshoots around the world. Berlinale Talents is, as a matter of principle, an initiative in permanent flux, and we’ll embrace the coming changes, in the same way as the entire Berlinale does. If you consider self-reflection and empathy as positive side effects of growing up, we are on the right path to becoming fairly bearable adults.

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