It's this time of the year when it's the awards season in cinema. This year's Berlin International Film Festival recently wrapped up with splendid entries and of course, controversial winners. In this feature, our LomoAmigo Antonio Castello joins the 68th Berlinale for a stellar coverage at the Grand Hyatt Hotel from February 15 to February 25 with some reliable gear on hand — the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens and the New Petzval 85 Lens. Both are known for its superb portrait-taking functions, but the difference lie on distance.
Read Antonio's experience, in his own words.
A First Time for Everything
I always thought of Berlinale as a weird festival of quirky movies, something like Berlin itself, characters that look like they spent the weekend at Berghain and share a room somewhere in Neukölln, artists trying to make a leaving while they smoke weed on the train stations, directors meeting on a gallery night to drink beers (bought at a späti) in front of the door... I mean, when you think of Film Festivals you think of Cannes, San Sebastian or Venice, but not Berlin. Actually, the Berlinale Director, Dieter Kosslick, has been criticized by his leadership and many call for a new director that brings the Festival to the standards of Cannes and Venice. But on the first day of the 68th Berline International Film Festival, I then understood that this was not going to be a typical one.
Just as I crossed the doors of the Hyatt Hotel, my hands began to sweat. It was my first time ever to be part of Berlinale and I was minutes away to photograph one of my film icons: Wes Anderson.
Yeah, it sounds like a cliche, maybe it is, but Wes Anderson art has somehow shaped my view of the world. Quirky and awkward characters and strong and mischievous ones dance together in a surreal world of strong and pastel colors with the music of Bowie playing on the background.
For the last 10 years (the first movie I saw was "The Life Aquatic") I wanted to live like that, with Wes Anderson soundtracks playing in the back, taking photos with a strong accent on minimalism and symmetry (not that I do it that good) and dressed (sometimes) like a Royal Tenenbaum... Okay! Maybe I don't live like a Wes Anderson character, but to be fair I do love his movies and style and last year I dressed like Mr. Fox for Halloween.
Anyways, I went up the Hyatt to the Berlinale Press Center (sounds cooler than what it really is) and after fighting my way to the photo room I hit myself against a line of Hollywood faces that were entering the room at the same time: Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston and Wes Anderson himself.
First I was in shock, it was not my first time in front of a big famous face — I lived in NYC where you find them in their pajamas doing shopping on a Sunday morning — but for sure I did not expect to see so many on my first day of Berlinale, actually I didn't expected much from the Festival itself.
Becoming Part of the Entourage
Without expecting it I spent eight days, one after the other, watching movies every afternoon and photographing famous stars on the red carpet every night. At the end of the week, my concept of the Festival had changed completely as I was able to see some of the greatest Hollywood, England, France, Asia, East Europe and Latin new film releases and to photograph the stars behind them.
In 8 days my love for the film theater and the big screen came back to life (being away from Netflix and watching films for free helps a lot), and at some point even my wife asked me to please come back home sometime soon as I was living in Postdamerplatz almost 20 hours a day drinking free coffee at the Hyatt hotel. What I thought it was gonna be another weird Berlin experience end up being one of the best events I have ever attended, I'm actually already looking forward to doing it again next year.
From the photography point of view, it was great to have the Petzval 85 and the 58 with me, the actors came to me in the red carpet to ask about the weird golden lens, and when far away from me the Petzval 85 was of great help. I also used the Lomo'Instant Square. I first found it challenging to shoot very fast since these people are moving all the time and they don't pose for you. I did manage to get some retro-looking portraits though!
As for the films? I'm definitely recommending "Isle of Dogs" by Wes Anderson, "The Happy Prince" (my favorite one!) by Rupert Everett, "Museo" by Alonso Ruizpalacio, "Ága" by Milko Lazarov and of course, the controversial Golden Bear recipient, "Touch Me Not" by Adina Pintilie.
For more of Antonio's work, visit his website.