On 22 January 2024, the Berlinale invites you to the big programme press conference. An enquiry sent to the management of the major Berlin film festival in March asking for an appointment remained unanswered. In November, it emerged that the Uber group, enemy of normal working conditions and organiser of wage dumping, was once again engaged as the main sponsor of the Berlinale.
This leaves the Berlin taxi drivers with no choice but to organise their own film festival, the TaxiFilmFest. Because nobody else has come up with the idea of how to counter the Uber group and its Berlinale appearance, it’s up to me. I can do that. As technical director, programmer and organiser at the VideoFest and the first Transmediale, I successfully worked my way through the festival at Podewil with a tiny budget and a lot of improvisation.
So now I’m organising a TaxiFilmFest, a political rally in support of underpaid colleagues, and at the same time a real no-budget film festival, as is possible today thanks to the internet and digital recording.
One thing hasn’t changed since analogue times: anything is possible with K.I.S.S. - keep it simple, stupid . We leave out everything that needs much time and costs money. We save on GEMA and distribution fees because we never show films in front of large audiences, but invite friends into our "living room".
In our case, that’s a taxi. In addition to the host, a maximum of eight friends fit into this living room as viewers and panellists. As it’s cold in the Berlinale in February, we use video conferencing for discussions. We invite other groups to watch the same films as us, each in a friend’s living room, and then discuss what we’ve seen and experienced via video conference. In this way, we reach more than eight people and can still remain private. No rights clearance, no rental fees, no extra payments to GEMA. All of this has already been paid for in the case of private use or is covered by an exception in German copyright law.
There is still enough to organise and explain, simply because nobody has ever done anything like this before. Perhaps we will have to organise a festival with a large hall in a year’s time after all, because the world is not yet sufficiently familiar with distributed online events, even after Corona.
It remains exciting. For now, we are collecting suggestions as to which films should be shown at a TaxiFilmFest.
Welcome to TaxiFIlmFest,
welcome to new territory!