The Film Lover’s Guide to Berlin —

Berlinale tips from TIFF’s Senior Manager of Festival Programming.

Geoff Macnaughton is the senior manager of Festival Programming at TIFF. He’s been with the organization since 2009 and in his new role on the Programming team he works closely with programmers and industry partners to shape the September festival. In 2017, he started co–hosting the podcast TIFF Long Take, which explores what, why, and how we watch. This will be his seventh trip to the Berlinale International Film Festival and European Film Market, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to find out how the city looks to someone who gets paid to look at movies.

enroute What film should I watch before I go to Berlin?

Geoff Macnaughton Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire is my favourite depiction of the city in all its polarizing beauty.

Feb 19, 2019
Interior of Caras Lab coffee shop.

er Where do film people go to get a good cup of coffee in Berlin?

gm My relationship with coffee began three months ago when I became a dad, so my previous Berlin experiences have seriously lacked caffeine. Now that I require coffee to function properly I plan to become a regular at Caras Gourmet. It's conveniently located between the European Film Market theatres and main meeting hub, the Martin–Gropius–Bau.

Extérieur en pierre du Martin Gropius Bau.
Photo: Mathias Voelzke

er I want to walk around the city with my headphones on. What's my soundtrack?

gm I'd like to come off as hip by naming a Berlin band like Gurr or Cluster, but that would be a lie, as I would probably be listening to a podcast.

er What's your favourite cinema in Berlin?

gm I really like the Kino International. You definitely get a sense of Berlin's rich and complicated history when you walk through the main doors.

Interior of Monkey Bar in Berlin.
Photo: Stephan Le

er What's the nightlife like during the Berlinale?

gm The nighttime choice is always between going to a film or a networking event. The appeal of a film is that you don't have to be your most social self, while the advantage of an event is that many of them are hosted in some amazing venues: for instance, Monkey Bar, a bar that hangs over the Berlin Zoo.

Exterior of the Bode Museum in Berlin.
Photo: Maximilian Meisse

er You're exhausted. You just watched three features in a row and you have two hours to kill until your next meeting. Where do you go?

gm My first choice would be to take a nap. When I'm ambitious, however, I try to carve out a couple of hours at the end of my trip to escape the festival hub and explore Berlin. If I need to get a last minute Valentine’s Day gift I head to the boutiques in Mitte; if I need more culture I head to Museum Island; and if I just want to wander, I head to Kreuzberg.

er You're about to watch a million movies. Do you watch in–flight movies on the way to a film festival?

gm I've mastered the art of sleeping on planes, so usually I'll watch the start of an in–flight film en route and the other half on the way back. If I'm not sleeping the majority of the flight there's a problem. I do feel like certain films are ideal for watching on planes. For example, if you're excited to see something, not willing to pay for the in–cinema experience, and it's not available on any of the streaming services yet, it's the perfect plane film.

er You travel a lot for work. What are your hacks for transatlantic flights?

gm I try to be as organized as possible before I leave, whether that be through pre–emptively trying to adjust to the time zone I'm travelling to or making sure my schedule is locked so I don't have to improvise in a sleep–deprived state.