The thematic focus in 2014 is: "Ready to Play? Breaking the Rules". How will the programme incorporate this theme?
MWK: The theme "play" is at the centre of this year's focus, play in the sense of experimenting. We want to address the questions of how story development can be approached in a playful way, or how to handle the rules of the film industry game, how to learn and modify them, and which circumstances allow for innovation – the theme will be integrated into the programme by many different approaches. "Breaking the Rules" pursues the idea that we want to encourage our participants to not just blindly obey the mechanisms of the business, or emulate that which is currently successful, but to realise their own ideas and question the established rules.
CT: And that's how the focus also emphasises storytelling, so to speak. We want to motivate the participants to play more with the stories, to develop characters in other directions, to just play around with the possibilities available in telling a story. Over the past few years, we often had the impression that many filmmakers work primarily with autobiographical material. That's completely fine as it is, but the course of a story – and with it the development of its characters – often seems to get tied down because of that, and then it's not uncommon that the element of playfulness suffers.
MWK: Storytelling and screenwriting will also be the theme we focus on in the upcoming Summit programme. We're aiming specifically at finding unlike solutions, asking about different and new paths, about possibilities for moving against the current and showing something completely different. We'll have help from some experts who've made a name for themselves doing just that, setting stark and weird elements up against the expected in such a clever way that the films are still comprehensible – pioneers who dared to tell a story this way, successfully yet differently.
With thousands of applicants annually, you always have your finger on the pulse of the new generation of international, aspiring filmmakers. Are digitisation and media convergence constantly creating new trends?
MWK: Sure, you can see a lot of new developments, especially in the area of cross-media. But no matter how a project is conceived or implemented: it's always about touching the viewer with a well-written story. It's about the art of storytelling, something that often simply gets pushed to the background in times of permanent digital innovation and trends towards media convergence. What we want to do is encourage our Talents to avoid letting media-related developments distract them, and concentrate first and foremost on narrating. And that's exactly what should be at the core of Berlinale Talents: delight in telling a story.