The 58th Berlinale, 2008.
I miss having Yana and my sister here with me, but my husband's sweet company more than makes up for it.
Later this morning, I'll be watching the 5th film in the competition.
It's dead in the middle of winter here. Berlin isn't quite as white as it was last year. Global warming, I suppose. But this means it isn't as cold as it was before, and for this I'm grateful.
I'm told the Berlinale audience attendance numbers have risen considerably. A remarkable achievement, given that they were already the world's most attended film festival to begin with!
It's a different feeling, coming to the Berlinale as a member of the jury, with two Berlinale prizes already in your bag. You're a lot calmer. I smile inside when I come across directors whose films are in competition here. Bright, eager, hopeful faces thinly disguise the nervousness inside. I know exactly how they feel, and my heart reaches out to them.
The films selected are decent at worst and miraculous at best. And the competition is tough. Which is as it should be. There's nothing I like better than to watch a film that is a genuine, heartfelt expression of its maker's feelings about his world, his life.
No politicking here. No prejudices. No one wants to get you because you made a film about a Chinese boy who loved a Malay girl, or a Muslim cleric who refused to be cruel to a three-legged dog.
Here, a good film is cause for celebration. All is well. Praise the good Lord.