I shake my head and sip on a fruity cocktail, waiting for the ice to freeze my brain. I’ve been thirsty coming to this place. The bagel shop on the second floor. The store next door is being renovated once again. Something always changes in Berlin and yet it strangely remains the same.
“Me either.” Angus glares at me with a look that leaves me guessing. He pauses, then sighs. The way his spikes an olive from our appetizer plate almost seems volatile. “Too many years have passed since I last won a Bear. No accreditation for me this year.”
I watch how he picks the olive from his toothpick, his lips glistening from the oily dressing. “I don’t know what it is with this film festival. Last year I was too ill to attend, the year before I was struggling to keep my job. Must be the season. I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.”
“Berlin is gray in winter. They say the festival brings color to a dreadful season.” Angus picks another olive and chews on it.“No shopping for investors at the EFM this year?”
“I’m not involved with that film project anymore.” The crack in my voice is unintended. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you another time.”
“Is that drama I hear between the lines?”
“A comedy of errors is more like it,” I reply with a wry little smile. “Demonic possession included I’m tempted to say.”
“Don’t you love the film business,” my friend asks with a chuckle. “Such colorful people involved in it.”
“Colorful and occasionally scary,” I giggle back. “At least when you’re struggling to make meets end and try to get your project financed.”
“It takes a lot of energy to see a film through to the end. It’s not a walk in the park to get that much dreaded happy end.”
“I say. It rather takes a lot of patience with swaggerers and artists in disguise.”
“That’s such a cliché.” Angus picks anther olive, then savors it with full abandon. “But of course every cliché is based on some kind of truth.”
“Right now, I don’t miss it.” I take another sip from my smoothie cocktail. “All the idle talk and anguish. I’m not a sales person. I should’ve known I’d end up hating my job.”
“Producing isn’t so bad when you get your film made.” Angus scans the crowd below us with pensive eyes. “At least you receive a fair share of the profit in the end.”
“If your baby ever brings something in.” I shake my head. “No, I’m not walking down that road again. I’m done lying to myself.”
“Don’t you think that some day you’ll miss reading scripts and finding that one precious story your heart aches to show to the world?”
“I rather try and tell that story myself.” Air rushes through my straw as I empty the last drop of my delicious beverage, interrupting my thoughts for a mere second. “I love movies too much, I can’t afford to hate making them. That’s why I quit.” I pause to gesture the cheerful waitress to get me another drink. “If that makes any sense.”
“Actually,” my friend glares at me with melancholy eyes, “it does.”
We sit for a while, silence enveloping us like a blanket of comfort and seclusion. Unlike the crowd below, standing in endless lines to snatch tickets for premiere showings and special events, we are contented with our mix of enthusiasm and frustration about a world we have both lived in for a while. Somehow, lingering like Waldorf and Statler on our balcony, starters on the table and another cocktail cooling my tongue, feels like closing a chapter. The first day of Berlinale and no errands to run. It is a good feeling to be sitting on the sidelines of what once used to be so special to me. My blood is pumping quietly through my veins. There is no rush, no fuss. All I feel is tranquility and an appetite for food served to me on a large plate. The bagels look delicious, the film festival paling in comparison to the sapidity festival on the table.
“To the movies,” Angus toasts to me with his glass of wine. “In good times and bad.”
I smile, understanding what he means and drink to a quiet promise to never let anything spoil my love for motion pictures, even if the dream of making them has no happy end for myself.