It’s always a heady experience every year to get my bag and badge from the tent, and then sit with other members of the press screening the films at the Filmfest Hamburg. There is no waiting in line, no rush to get a seat, and everyone is polite, friendly, and reverent. Scattered across the theater the critics speak in respectful whispers about films they have liked, loved, and despised. It’s so civilized.
This year for the first time I went to two showings open to the general public, one in the afternoon, the other in the evening. It was like being at a different film festival. First my official badge was only ornamental. Like everyone else I had to buy tickets and stand in line for half an hour before the doors opened. Then there was another wait as everybody scrambled to their seats; it seemed like about twenty moviegoers with hot coffee or popcorn clambered over me. It was unsettling at first, then, slowly, I had to admit I liked it! There was such a buzz of movie lovers telling their neighbors about all the films they had seen in a rapid recitation of thumbnail movie reviews. At the end of both films the audiences clapped appreciatively, and everyone left feeling elated.
Next year I plan on going to both film festivals again, as I enjoy not only the aura of being a member of the press, but also the thrill of being part of the anonymous crowd.