New trends in filmmaking: buzz on 3D, new media at Berlin Film Festival

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"Avatar," James Cameron's 3D film, is either a dirty word or a rebirth for cinema, depending on which filmmaker who will talk to you at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

The festival, or Berlinale, celebrates its 60th birthday with old cinema friends, like Fritz Lang's 1927 classic "Metropolis" and some newcomers, like Yuen Woo-ping's martial art flick "True Legend" in 3D.

The future of cinema and moviemaking comes at a crucial point in history as the financial crisis of last year continues to linger and begs to ask the question of what will bring more people to the movies?

"If there is a 3D film we like, of course we will screen it. But it will not change the festival," Festival Director Dieter Kosslick told Xinhua.

This year over 400 films are playing at the festival, 11 of those will be screened in 3D.

Stereoscopic photography, or 3D, first made its way into the public with the Lumiere Brothers' film "The Arrival of A Train" in the early 1900's. The 3D photography uses special cameras to record two perspectives (left eye and right eye) to create the depth illusion of a three-dimensional image.

"We saw it coming last year," Bekki Probst, head of the European Film Market (EFM), told Xinhua. This year's EFM has newly assigned viewing rooms at the Astor Lounge to accommodate sales agents showing their films in 3D.

Robert Ross, a U.S. film buyer, told Xinhua that the technical innovation had not yet reached his genre. "I think right now it's a niche market, but anything that brings people to the market, whether it's Blue Ray or 3D, is a positive change."

Julian Pinn, director of Distribution Services at DOLBY, who was involved in the world premiere of Cameron's "Avatar," explained why 3D was a financially viable solution for producers and theater owners.

"3D has around three times the box office potential as 2D... People are more inclined to see a movie in 3D and more willing to spend the extra money."

When it comes to budgeting for a film, story telling also contributes a great deal to the decision of how to shoot your project.

"3D has to be able to work in a story based atmosphere," said Max Penner, the stereographer of Europe's first live action 3D movie "Street Dance."

A clip of the film "Street Dance," which centers on a group of street dancers in a dance competition, was shown recently at the festival to an audience of young cinema enthusiasts.

Joachin De Smedt, a Belgian filmmaker, attended the "Street Dance" lecture because he was developing his own 3D feature.

"People will go to see a film just because it's in 3D, but I don't think an intimate French story needs the technology to come alive," he told Xinhua.

Beyond cinema, television and DVD, new media forms such as social networking websites are shaping how young directors transmit their narrative stories.

"Young filmmakers are used to thinking in multi-platform ways," said Matthijs Knol, program manager of the Berlin Talent Campus.

French Internet director, Alexandre Brachet, who runs the webdocumentary "Gaza Sdreot," spoke to the Berlin Talent Campus about using social networking, gaming, mobile applications to generate online audience participation.

Brachet's documentary project, "Gaza Sdreot," tells the simultaneous tale of life on both sides of the Palestinian and Israeli border, in Gaza (Palestine) and Sdreot (Israel). Online, viewers can choose to interactively flip between the characters on both sides of the border and comment.

This year's Berlinale is a true indication that the motion picture industry has arrived at a media crossroad.

"We are all on Facebook, Myspace and cellphones," said Berlin Talent Campus Program Manager Knol. "It's not that people have to use 35mm film to be recognized as filmmakers anymore."

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