Sweet As at the Berlinale

APDG National Executive Screen Representative and production designer of Sweet As, Emma Fletcher shares her experience of a four day whirlwind trip Berlinale in Germany.

During the Western Australia’s border closure in 2021, I was the production designer for Arenamedia’s Sweet As, a coming of age story about an at-risk Indigenous teenager. We filmed through Port Hedland, Karratha, South Hedland and Karijini National Park. Sweet As went on to win the Chrystal Bear at the Berlinale, in the festival’s Generation Kplus category.

While at Berlinale, I attended the Focus group Production Designers Collective event, that featured the production designers of films in the festival. Naddie Argun (Ararat – a film shot in rural eastern Turkey), Josephine Farsø (The Quiet Migration – a low budget Danish film about South Korean adoption) and Arad Sawat (Golda – a studio heavy film about Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister). The panel session was moderated by Inbal Weinberg, co-founder of both the PDC and The Gathering.

“The powerful sense that one belongs to a wide and diverse community of designers around the world was immense.” 

Naddie spoke to the challenges of working in very remote regions which would resonate with anyone working here in WA.  She spoke to working on country under the shadow of Mount Ararat and anyone working in Hobart knows the pull of kunanyi/Mount Wellington.  Arad spoke so eloquently to working with colour and the layering of history in design.

After the panel presentation we were divided into small groups for the discussion workshop.  I found myself sitting next to Uli Hanisch (The Queen’s Gambit) and Erwin Prib (When Will It be Again Like It Never Was Before).  Erwin spoke about designing his beautiful project, I spoke about filming an Indigenous story on country and we had a meaty conversation about using AI as a design tool and the designers place in virtual production.

Running around Berlin trying to absorb everything in 4 days was madness, but I am so glad I went. Thank you to Screenwest.  It was creatively energising, thought-provoking as well as challenging and my eyes feasted on it all.

Photo provided by Emma Fletcher