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Just back from Berlin. Experiences with COVID-19 and other info

Just got back from a week in Berlin to attend the Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival).
Thought I would share my experiences with Coronvirus. For the most part it there wasn't much a any visible panic over it despite the fact that the festival is one of the largest and most prestigious in the world that draws attendees from all corners of the world. There were no obvious precautions, warnings, or modifications to way things were handled. The festival was well attended with most screenings completely full. I did get a little concerned half through the week when you could hear a lot of heavy coughing, clearing of throats, and sneezing through out a lot of the movies. But I justified it to myself that it was a result of the miserable weather outside: cold, windy, rain, and snow flurries. Coming back into the USA was asked by Tegel airport security, and US immigration at Newark Airport if I had visited mainland China in the last two weeks, and that was it as for screening for the virus.
Having said that there was an individual wearing a cowboy hat in the Newark Immigration hall who was segregated in a corner being interviewed by three Immigration agents wearing some hazmat gear, there were private security people standing twenty feet away making sure nobody got any closer. Not certain what it was all about, perhaps he answered "yes" to the China question. The only other international flights at the time were European and a one from Toronto.

As for the festival itself here are some notable movies I caught which you may want to look out for:

-Never Rarely Sometimes Always: An American film which got the second place award. Essentially an American remake of the Romanian "abortion" film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days which was an international hit back in 2007. It takes place in present day rural Pennsylvania and follows a teenage girl over the course of two days as she travels to NYC to get the procedure done.
Despite having no big stars in it, Universal has acquired it and it will be interesting to see how the movie gets distributed. Should also garner a lot of controversy in some circles.

-Pari: Well crafted thriller from an Iranian director set in Athens. Two parents from Tehran travel to Greece to visit their son attending university. When they arrive he is nowhere to be found. They are determined to find out what has happened to him despite only speaking Farsi and having no contacts in Athens

-The Eddy: Upcoming series from Netflix and executive produced by Damien Chazelle about an American jazz musician who has moved to Paris to help run a Jazz Club and manage his band. In between has runs into troubles with an Easten European Mafia, his teenage daughter and the Paris Police, with lots of great music in between.

-Surge: Excellent performance by British actor Ben Whishaw. He portrays a security screener at a London area airport who enters into a psychotic episode and begins a 24 hour crime spree.

-Charlatan: From notable director Agnieszka Holland. A biopic about a natural remedy/herbal doctor practicing in the Czech WWII/Cold War. Some people swear by his expertise others see him has a quack, the communist regime is threatened by his popularity. The events of his life are well know inside the country but almost unknown everywhere else.

Other random notes about Berlin: I was able to use my Credit Card at all brick and mortar merchants big and small with no minimum purchase rules. All these merchants also accepted Apple Pay and other forms of contactless payment. The only times I used cash were for the taxi to/from Tegel, coins for public bathrooms and at the Bratwurst stand at Potsdammer Platz. So in my experience Berlin accepts plastic with the same exact acceptance rate as London, winch I consider to be the gold standard when it comes to using electronic payment.

Posted by
3092 posts

Michael, really good to see your report - thanks! All seriousness aside, maybe they pulled the guy aside if he was wearing a cowboy hat with wing-tip shoes, not proper boots?

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you for information on airport health screenings and for adding to my “movies to watch” list.