We breakfast late in the hotel restaurant. We eat everything. At 11am the gang gather in the foyer. Sinead obviously has a virus and has been up all night vomiting, but she's a trooper and she joins us for a walk along the canals to the flea market before we go to our next screening. Pippa has already gone back to London.
The walk is beautiful. Winter-worn trees line the waterways. Ducks and swan and geese glide past us.
"I want to remember this time forever"
We are rushed getting to the theatre on time. As we go in, Ella the Festival Angel tells us that the voting for the screening last night came in at 48% 'very good' and 52% 'excellent'. We're thrilled. Again, thank God, this cinema is packed. Standing room only. The same short film is shown. The MC brings Mark on stage. He says a simple hello. The cast and crew are going to be introduced after. Again we are gratified by an audience that has an affinity for the characters, is drawn in by the action and moved by the story. I stand to the side of the cinema to watch the faces of the people watching the film. I want to remember this time forever, to savour the sense that the film is a success, to relish the consummation of Mark's decade-long commitment to this work of art.
Sinead goes home to London that afternoon. We're all a bit of a mess. Dazed and confused. Exhausted. The Golden Bear awards are on that night, followed by the closing ceremony and party. Mark has phone interviews. We spend the rest of the day mucking about in our hotel rooms and getting glammed up. At 8pm we meet and start walking to an Italian restaurant that someone thought looked good. They also thought it was nearby, but they were wrong. Those with stilettos or a lack of commitment to exercise end up catching a taxi.
The meals all come out at the same time, but they are divided in quality. The tomato-based pasta sauces are glorious. The pesto is gross. Our last meal in Berlin has not changed our lack of culinary regard for the place, but then we didn't come for the food. We came for the film and the film served us well.
The wrap party is at the magnificent old Berlin town hall. The esplanade leading up to it is lined with the flags of the countries represented by the films in the festival. The Australian flag flies for My Mother Frank and Jacqui North's Chrissy. Our door is opened for us as we arrive and we step out onto the red carpet. When you're a nobody-in-particular, the red carpet can be a very deflating experience. There is a corridor of photographers, journalists and autograph seekers with cameras, tape recorder and pens poised. You can see their disappointment when it's only you.
"we're having a bloody great time"
The wrap up party starts out slow. We don't know many people so we have to work the place. The abundant alcohol and the Jamaican band helps and by midnight we're into the swing, mun. We're having long chats with film-makers and journalists from all over the world, we're trying different types of beers, we're having a bloody great time. We're there til 3:30. There is an after party but we need bed. As we stumble back down the red carpet, snowflakes begin to float across the city.
The 3Ps are being picked up at 6am for their flight to London. Susan and Phaedon will head straight home. John is off to India to talk to some people in Bollywood. Brian and Jack are flying out to Milan later that afternoon. Mark, Matt and I are being picked up at 8:30am for the 10:30 flight to London. Matt will stay there, with Rose and Gregor for a few days. Mark will stay there for a fortnight. I'll stay overnight and then come home.
At 8:15 am the phone rings in our darkened hotel room. It's reception. Our driver has arrived. We haven't begun to pack, let alone wake up. Three quarters of an hour later, we settle the bill for phone calls and the mini bar (which we swore we wouldn't touch and which cost us $A200).
The boys make me check that I've got my passport and ticket in my bag. I do. But the airline doesn't have me in their computer. When I missed the BA flight in Sydney, I got dropped out of every other flight in the booking. Great. We trudge back and forth between enquiry counters and airlines and I feel like I'm reliving the nightmare of Day 1. But God is merciful and they book me back in.
Unfortunately, my bag doesn't come with me. But that's a whole other story. Or you can wait to see the film.