Room service breakfast. Over to the office to get tickets for the opening of a highly regarded South American film this afternoon and Denzel Washington's Hurricane tonight. The-future-Mrs-Newton serves us today. Her top lip curls up as she talks, her waist-long hair falls in waves over the curves of her body, her clothes are layers of clinging lace … everyone is in lust.
To the mall for a coffee and a review of the press situation in light of the press screening and conference tomorrow. We figure we shouldn't make the bagel place our regular until we've tried out some other cafes. Up the escalator, over a bridge, down the escalator, through a walkway, into an arcade, back up the escalator … less committed individuals begin to roam from the pack with disinterest and search parties are sent out to find them. Twenty minutes later we arrive as a group at our new regular, the bagel place.
"I find the coat I've been looking for all my life"
John has Other Business, Matt is going to meet up with Rose and do some sight-seeing. Susan, Mark and I decide to go shopping. Phaedon would prefer to eat his own vomit but he comes along for the walk, his idea of which is to break the sound barrier. By the time I find the coat I've been looking for all my life that I absolutely have to have, we are due at the film opening. I hastily throw my visa card at the saleswoman who explains something to me in rapid German and throws the card back at me. In slo-mo all is revealed. She can not take the payment. I have to go to a check-out two floors down. She will send the coat down there. Susan sends the now-agitated menfolk off to hunt down the film while we stay on to gather the clothing. After waiting in line at the check-out, we discover that this store, one of the largest department stores in Berlin, does not take credit cards - only cash, travellers cheques or the store card. We get cash from a hole-in-the-wall, get a receipt, get the coat and get the hell out of there.
The movie is a bizarre Brazilian story of an uptight, highly decorated, married soldier who is assigned the mission of taking a group of prostitutes to army outposts to service the soldiers who haven't had "any" for a while. The personal values of the lead character are in direct opposition to what he has been asked to do as part of his job - an old recipe with a unique flavouring. It's funny and moving.
Mark has an interview with ABC radio so we split up and head back to our hotels.
"we discover we are one ticket short"
Dinner-time we meet up with the whole gang - including Brian and Jack who have just arrived from Sydney. We're excited to see them and to have new people to play with. Gregor is celebrating having finished a final draft of his new script. He takes us to a funky Italian place on the old East side (where the pizzas are served, naturally, twenty minutes after the other main courses). Back to the cinema where we discover we are one ticket short. Susan and Phaedon volunteer to miss the movie, and they give the spare ticket to one of the many scalpers.
Hurricane is good. Denzel is wonderful. He and another actor from the film - Debra Unger - come on stage. She is introduced and receives vaguely interested applause. Denzel is introduced and the audience go wild. They stand and clap and hoot and holler. Every time he signals to them to sit down and stop clapping, they cheer more loudly and clap more vigorously. We don't because we're Aussies. We're the agents of moderacy, the keepers of humility. It's against our natures to revere someone too much in case they get to thinking they're pretty good.
Afterwards, we move with the masses to a bar not far away and snuggle into a booth. The only way to grab the waiter's attention is to actually grab him. He hates us. He rolls his eyes, taps his foot and sneers as we order. He doesn't understand English so we order by pointing to the menu. When the bill comes, I've been charged 25 Deutschmarks instead of seven for my glass of champagne. We call the waiter over. Somehow his English - though not his attitude - has improved in the past half hour. He explains in a you-filthy-pig-dog tone that I should have said "sparkling wine" not "champagne" if I didn't want to pay that much. Red rag to a group of bulls. We go him and then we go his manager. Loudly. With horns. We win. It's a cheap thrill but it's a thrill all the same.
"shots of exotic liqueurs to augment the five rounds of vodka"
Meanwhile Susan and Phaedon are getting trashed at a gay bar they've wandered into. Some new best friends are shouting them shots of exotic liqueurs to augment the five rounds of vodka they have already consumed. They arrive home tired but very happy about 4am.
In the van on the way in to the ticket office, we meet Jacqi North, whose documentary, Chrissy, is the only other Australian film invited to the festival. She's here on her own and she's working hard. We make vague plans to catch up for a drink.
Mr Village People and the-future-Mrs-Newton are on a coffee break. We're served by a new person with many rings in many of his facial features. It's hard to know where to look. We get tickets to an afternoon screening of a Turkish film that everyone is buzzing about, and Man on the Moon with Jim Carey that night.
"a Big Mac is called a Royale"
We decide it's time to do the right thing culturally and have breakfast in a German Maccas. Except that a Big Mac is called a Royale and that you can get McBeer, everything is gratifyingly the same.
Mark and the 3Ps have a meeting with representatives from two of the film's investors, Australia's Beyond International and Britain's Channel Four. The film's lead, Sinead Cusack, is coming in to Berlin tomorrow and they need to discuss a schedule for press interviews. They also need to edit footage from the film to prepare videos for press who can't make it to any of the screenings.
Matt has Other Business again. I go with Brian and Jack to the Berlin zoo and aquarium. Jack - who is truly, madly, deeply in love with all animals - spends long amounts of time with each species, watching their behaviour, analysing their state of mind and their health, inspecting cages and enclosures, taking us on an excursion of her emotions as she goes from fascination to outrage to rapture and back again.
After coffee in a good Italian place that looks like it could be a goer for a cheap dinner, Jack and Brian head off on the bus tour of Berlin.
I go to the festival office to meet up with Mark for the afternoon film. We don't stay long. It's a Turkish film with German subtitles. The first fifteen minutes is an image of a man sitting in a café watching the passing traffic. The voiceover is somewhat critical. We go back to the hotel, where Matt is curled up in bed, trying to sleep. Naturally we put an end to that.
"He rings every hotel in Berlin"
So Matt tells us about his Other Business - his mission to find Denzel and invite him to a screening. Matt figures that since Debra Unger also went to NIDA, he can approach her on the basis of common ground, and through her, extend an invitation to Denzel. He rings every hotel in Berlin. She's gone already.
Man on the Moon is great if you're a Jim Carrey or Andy Kaufman fan and a tad long if you're not. Dinner is at the Italian place we had coffee at earlier in the day. It's a shock when all the main courses are served at the same time.
Early to bed but I can't sleep. Mark can and does, loudly. I lie in the dark going over our time here and imagining the premiere tomorrow. I can tell, by his breathing, that Matt is probably awake too but I don't want to risk talking to him and waking him up. We lie like this for over an hour till Matt says, "So Klay, how are you?"
"Fine thanks," I answer. Over the rumbling from the middle bed we chat. At one point, Mark wakes up. "Please you guys," he pleads. "I need to sleep."
"This from the horn section of the Berlin philharmonic orchestra," says Matt.
Berlin Diary Part Four of Five