Ending the festival with the delightful, colorful romantic-but-acerbic comedy, "The Fisherman and His Wife" by Doris Dörrie, based on the Grimm fairy tale. It starts with a couple of fish, who were once human husband and wife. They were cursed and turned to fish for bickering so much, and the only way they can turn back to their human form is if they're taken in by a couple who are still in love with each other after 3 years of marriage. They are currently in a commercial fish pond in Japan, but are adopted as "maybe fish" (because they're worthless now, but if their coloring changes they could be worth many hundred thousand dollars) by a German couple. The woman is so impulsive and driven she convinces him to get married right there in Japan, before they return home (even though they just met there in Japan). He's very happy being an independent fish doctor/appraiser specializing in parasitic diseases. She wants to be a fashion designer, and has an idea for koi-inspired fashion. Even when they have a new baby, her drive and his lack of drive (or as he tries to justify it, being content with the moment) strains their marriage. But in the end, like the few German romantic comedies I've seen, love sorta-kinda conquers not-quite-all-but-most-things. Or to put it another way: love is super, but relationships suck!
And then there was the after party, an incredibly crowded affair in the upstairs mezzanine of the Castro, which is meant for maybe 100 people while the theater holds a couple thousand (as I pointed out, we just saw a movie about fish, and now were crammed in like sardines! I want a bigger aquarium!) But once enough people gave up and left it was cool to hang out, have a few beers, and talk to other film fans. I got to thank and compliment the festival director Ingrid Eggers on a wonderful program, and I'm looking forward to coming back next year.
One final thought on Berlin and Beyond. Many movies were very dark and violent at this festival (although my personal favorite, "A Friend of Mine", wasn't). And it wasn't just me, many people commented on it, and said that it's different from years past. So is it something specific to Germany that's making movies darker, or is it more global, or is it just a coincidence? I'll keep an eye on the violent content of films this year, and comment further.
And so, Berlin and Beyond is in the books! Now maybe I'll finally have time to see "Pan's Labyrinth".