Berlin Film Festival is a big deal

Director Martin Scorsese poses on the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: The Berlin Film Festival opened yesterday. It got off to a rockin start with a new documentary from Martin Scorsese on the Rolling Stones.

Let's bring in Mike Speier of Variety. Mike, how does the Berlin Festival compare to Cannes?

Mike Speier: The Berlin film festival has always been Cannes' younger brother -- it's earlier in the year, it's not internationally accepted as a star-gazing place. But that's changing. People are showing up, huge movies are going. The opening night film is Martin Scorsese's documentary on the Rolling Stones. You cannot get bigger than that. And all of a sudden, it's becoming a new Cannes, and it's got people jazzed about the kind of titles out there.

Krizner: So you would think that U.S. independent companies really look to Berlin to try to create a buzz.

Speier: Exactly. And now that there is a marketplace there and you can buy and sell films, and there are films to be had, and there's star power that goes, you show up. Someone like Madonna showing up for her directorial debut, "Filth and Wisdom." Someone like Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson -- they're all going to the Berlin Film Festival because they have product there and they get covered. And that's how a film festival grows.

Krizner: What about entries from other countries, like India for example?

Speier: Well, there's a movie called "Ohm Shanti Ohm," which again, the Indian market really has never been cracked in America. We've tried to talk about Baliwood, write about Baliwood, but it really never caught on. The rest of the world, and certainly film festivals, these are the perfect places for these kind of movies, and this film from India is the highest-grossing film of all time there. It might not register with American audiences, but when you get an international festival and a big box office hit from another region, that just adds to the hype.

Krizner: I know we've got a big weekend -- I'm gonna segue here into the writers' strike -- I know we've got a big weekend coming up tomorrow. Writers on both casts are gonna get a chance to see what is the proposed contract. Any sense of how this is gonna play out? Do we get a deal done maybe as soon as this weekend, and maybe a back-to-work order on Monday?

Speier: It feels like that. It certainly . . . there is no reason that you're gonna have a bunch of writers saying, "We want to continue to be out of work." So if that's the case, it could be as soon as Monday when the Hollywood writers are back to work.

Krizner: So TV is back into production, and you get the Oscars show.

Speier: Not only that, but deals are fast and furious, movies get put back into production that were on hold -- and yes, like you said, the Oscars are back without any problems.

Krizner: Mike Speier is executive editor at Variety here in LA. Mike, always a pleasure, thanks.

Speier: Likewise.

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