Saturday Feb 8 & Sunday Feb 9. Also known as the busiest two days of the market. By Monday, only four days after it began, lots of people will already be packing up and heading home. Seems crazy, considering the leisurely pace most people approach film festivals with, that a market should be so rushed.

This weekend involves a lot of rushing around, and I’m very grateful for my week-long pass to the public transit system. One of my top tips for anyone coming to Berlin is: get friendly with the subway. It’s efficient, clean, and really the easiest and best way to get around. There are buses and trams too. It’s extensive.

People who come from transit friendly cities like New York (or Toronto) will find this advice obvious, but take heed car-dependent Americans: the Berlin subway is easy to navigate and not scary. You will save a lot by not always taking a cab.

You can buy tickets from vending machines at track level (and the machines have an English option, of course) but if you’re not sure what kind of ticket would suit you best, look for a booth with a human working it – some of the larger hub stations have them. I went for the weekly pass. Since it all works on the honour system, I bought my ticket, validated it (basically a date stamp that you get at track level – don’t forget!) and then popped it into my wallet and forgot about it for seven days. While there are inspectors who come around to check whether you really have a ticket, I’ve never seen one, so I guess I could have easily cheated the system. But honestly, I am happy to pay into something as well run as the Berlin subway, because I still want it to be here every future time that I visit.

Potsdamer Platz, the "EFM station"

Potsdamer Platz, the “EFM station”

Saturday was Colin’s day to hang with other TIFF staff for approximately 100 hours. They had a lengthy staff meeting and dinner, during which I puttered around and then went to see The Guest. I have very high expectations for any Wingard/Barrett joint, and this film met them all.

I didn’t see any other films on Saturday because sometimes you have to end on a high note. Instead, I went to Berlin’s best chicken joint, Henne, where I ate a half chicken with my hands, in the company of some Fantastic Fest / Drafthouse Films pals and several other delightful people. Then off to the Canadian Embassy to party with Canadians. A lot.

The only 9am breakfast meeting of the trip was of course scheduled after the latest night, so Sunday morning we raced out of bed to the Mandala hotel to meet our Replace director, Norbert, and a UK company that’s shown interest in another project of his. Later, I meet a Danish dude who may be able to help with another project I’m working on – my only solo meeting so far. 

Later in the day, I saw The Guest again with Colin. I know. Again. It’s that good.

Quick sidebar about market screenings: you’re not supposed to review market films (and I don’t), because they haven’t necessarily “premiered” yet to a public audience. Since The Guest played Sundance, it’s more ok to post about that than, let’s say, the new Nacho Vigalondo film that also had an invitation-only EFM screening. That film’s official premiere will be at SXSW, as they recently announced, so mum’s the word till then.

In the evening, dinner with our lovely Replace compatriots, followed by the enormous Trust Nordisk party, where all the fancy, sweet looking pastries turned out to be savoury (thank you, Danes, you’re my kind of people). Apparently both Stellan Skarsgard and Lars von Trier walked past us at some point in that party but I saw nothing. I am not very observant.

We left Trust Nordisk early-ish in order to hang out with Joe Swanberg at the party for Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, which was much more relaxed. And it turned out to be the right decision, because apparently Trust Nordisk got wild and went late, and several of our friends didn’t make it home from that one until 6am. I would have cancelled Monday altogether if that had been me.