Cathrin Schaer, a New Zealand journalist living in Germany, blogs from the 61st Berlin International Film Festival
Heading towards a 3D movie always imparts a wee thrill, doesn't it?
You can't help but wonder what the film maker will do with this new medium, what sort of obstacles will hurtle out of the screen towards you and how stupid everyone will look with their silly 3D glasses on.
That sort of curiosity is even more pronounced when you find out that director Wim Wenders, who is probably best known for films like Buena Vista Social Club and Paris, Texas, is making a 3D film about modern dance pioneer Pina Bausch, a German legend.
The film premiered at the Berlinale, one of the biggest film festivals in the world in the German capital this week, on Sunday night.
But c'mon, is that weird or what? And what if you're not into interpretive dance - you know, all those scantily dressed individuals prancing about, pretending to be trees or dolphins or something?
Well, have no fear. This movie is so beautiful it aches - which is highly appropriate because of Bausch's style of choreography. And the 3D effects do for the dance what the close up and action replay did for televised rugby games.
You get to see everything and it's visceral: the sinews in the dancers' bodies, their panting and the shuffle of their feet as they move across the floor.
It's - somewhat unexpectedly - pretty amazing. Possibly (sorry, dancers) even more amazing than seeing modern dance live.
The 100-minute movie was incredibly well received - the packed cinema, which has around 1,600 seats, burst into prolonged applause after the press screening. And that doesn't often happen with press screenings, where most people just leave quietly to file their stories after it's all over.
At the press conference afterwards a journalist even described Wenders as the Midas of movies because everything he touched - even unlikely pairings like that of 3D technology and modern dance - turned to gold.
But this is no documentary about Bausch's life. In fact, far from it.
It's basically an homage to the dance legend, who passed away in 2009, at the age of 68, only days after she was diagnosed with cancer.
As he has before, Wenders just pretty much did what he wanted - he said at the press conference that he had talked to Bausch about making a film as far back as the mid 1980s but he was never quite sure if she wanted to.
In the middle of planning for the film, Bausch passed away and Wenders told press that although it was a memorial, it wasn't a sad one.
"It was a film with Pina, for Pina," he added.
During the dance extravaganza, members of Bausch's company, who are fluent in the most evocative body language, give interviews about how Bausch made them feel - but they never say a word.
And Wenders plays around with the 3D format - the dancers throw amazing shapes on trams, at street corners, public pools and in factories and the director plays plenty of visual tricks.
One enduring image will be of a dancer with pieces of veal tucked into her ballet shoes as she dances en pointe around some sort of disused shipping yard.
Another enduring image will be of the huge cinema filled with the world's movie going press - and yes, they did all look pretty silly in those glasses.
Even at a more art-house and politically oriented festival like Berlin, there seems to be a lot of interest in 3D. But it's tending toward 3D with a difference.
Another well known German director Werner Herzog has made a documentary about the Chauvet Cave in France, where he was given permission to shoot some of the oldest cave paintings in the world.
Then there's also The Mortician, which stars rapper Method Man, and French film Tales of the Night (Les Contes de la Nuit), an animation film featuring silhouette animation (so it's like paper cut outs moving). More on those later though.
Manurewa in Berlin
Having his short film, Manurewa, premiere at the Berlinale today has been handy for more than one reason, for New Zealand director Sam Peacocke.
The film's story line is based around the shooting of Manurewa shopkeeper, Navtej Singh, in 2008.
The incident made headlines around the country because of delayed response time by emergency services as the 30-year-old liquor store owner, who eventually died, lay bleeding from a gun shot wound.
Peacocke describes the film as "emotionally powerful," it "grabs the audience by the throat".
Clocking in at around 20 minutes, its also one of the new breed of longer short films (most are usually only a maximum of 15 minutes long) which are becoming a bit of a trend in movie land - the short film, Scenes from the Suburbs, that US director Spike Jonze is showing here is also around half an hour long.
But apparently at today's international premiere in Berlin, during which Manurewa was screened along with several other shorts, nobody minded a little length. Or even a bit of throat grabbing.
"It got by far the greatest applause of all the short films that showed," Peacocke says proudly.
But there's more to being in Berlin than this for the New Zealander.
Peacocke is currently in the middle of making a documentary about New Zealand band, Shihad. "It's about young New Zealanders and their identity in the music world, or maybe, what the music world does to people's identity," Peacocke explains.
In the early 1990s, the Wellingtonian rock band was actually based in Berlin where they signed with a small German record label that specialised in heavy metal.
"Which was a good thing and a bad thing," Peacock notes.
Not so good because the group signed away their worldwide rights to the Germans, which meant other international labels were not interested in them.
Because Peacocke was coming to the German capital for the film festival he has been able to film interviews with the management of that small label, Noise Records.
The Shihad documentary will eventually be released either in June or July, Peacock says. And his short film will be screened at the Berlinale two more times as well.
Peacocke himself, who has been kept busy over the past couple of years directing music videos (including several for Shihad) and working on commercials, arrived and filmed the interviews. But he now hopes to spend more of the week taking in the scintillating sights and sounds at the Berlinale.
One imagines he'd be interested in showing his own feature film here one day. "Oh god yeah," Peacocke says, laughing a little.
"That's the ultimate goal. Berlin, Cannes or Sundance - those would be the three festivals I'd want to get into.
Bluffers Guide to Looking Like A Festival Pro
OK, so you want to look like a pro at the Berlin film festival? Here are a few accessories you really must have.
Firstly, your own packed lunch. Or at the very least, eat a sandwich on the run, or in the cinema while waiting for films to start.
It's a sure sign that you are so busy running between celebrity interviews and press screenings that you're too busy to eat (or that you're broke and can't afford to buy food around Potsdamer Platz, a tourist spot where coffees are a little more expensive).
Secondly, get yourself a pen with a little light in it. Don't know where the guy got it but it was very cool and yes, it is difficult to take notes in a darkened room while a movie is showing.
Although to be honest, sitting in front of a tiny blue light that jiggles up and down while the owner was scribbling was a tad annoying.
And thirdly, try and get hold of a Berlinale bag from several years ago.
Every year the film festival hands out assorted schedules, brochures and information to accredited visitors in a distinctively branded carrier bag.
And every year the design of the aforementioned accessory is different.
Displaying a faded satchel from years gone by awards you instant festival cred. Now you know.