If you create a blog for an international film festival, you also want a lot of people from all over the world to understand what you write about the movies, the events and the artists. German, even if it is the biggest language in the European Union by the number of mother tongue speakers, can only reach a limited amount of world’s population.  By now English has become the Lingua franca in international business, so that normally every text only needs to be translated into one language. That makes a lot of things easier.

At the same time you should never underestimate the vagaries of translating, because very easily you can get into unexpected troubles. For example a friend of mine was asked not to long ago in Sweden, if he knew the Swedish national anthem: “Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i norden…” (Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the north…). For sure he learned this sentence before he went on the journey and so he said yes and said: “Jag vill leva, jag vill döda här i norden…” which sounds quite similar, but unfortunately it meant something rather different: I want to live, I want to kill here in the north. Later he told me, he didn’t succeed in making any friends during his trip.

Worse, it seems somehow, is the situation in Denmark though, where even Danes among each other hardly manage to communicate. But here we didn’t want to talk about translations from German to Swedish or from Danish to Danish, but about transferring German texts into English. Also this can be quite difficult: So, what do you do, if it makes total sense to a German if an acrobat makes a double screw in the air? A double twist sounds rather unfamiliar for the German ear. Also the “playjoy” of an actress who enjoys being on stage might be misleading. Some Germans would even ask the Dear Mr. Singingclub for some help.

And the other way around? How do you translate for example ‘queer’ into German? Do you use the German word for dizzy? Or even “to be spoiled”? Unexpected associations might appear in the reader’s mind. And what about “straight“? Maybe you could use the German word for “even“ or “smooth“? But also that could be misleading. Or, as a friend of mine suggested: “Just write boring! It’s the same anyways.“ Well, a German would say that she just wanted to take someone on her arm – instead of pulling a leg –, but on our blog this would be rather politically incorrect – then I wouldn’t be allowed to write anymore and all that would be left for me to say, would be: There we have the salad. So, I guess, I will simply stay lost in translation with my oversittings.

Up to now almost,

Who is that anyway?

The dancer Valeska Gert was a star in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This not only at home in Berlin: She was known in Europe, Moscow and the United States through her tours and emigration. Valeska Gert was an artist of formidable modernity. Her avant-garde dance solos were far beyond their time and would influence the decades to follow.

Valeska Gert was born in Berlin in 1892 and lived with her parents at Köpenicker Straße. She was already taking dance lessons at the age of five and at 16, acting classes. Shortly after her 1916 debut as a dancer, she achieved celebrity: In eccentric dance pantomimes, Gert analyzed subjects like boxing, nervousness, bawds, politicians and prostitution, consistently embodying all their diversity in a single unity. These performances ended up making her a notorious star. In the 1920’s, she conceived even more radical dance pieces such as Death: a dance on a person’s final breaths consisting nearly entirely of motionlessness, so radical as to be unique amongst modern dance and performance of its time. She even performed the young medium film in the 1920’s, dancing time-lapse, slow-motion and cuts herself, the latter as modern street traffic.

In the year 1925, Gert herself appeared for the first time in silent film: In Hans Neumann’s parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she played Puck. Then Georg Wilhelm Pabst cast her as a corrupt bawd in Joyless Street (1925). In 1929, she lit up the screen in Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Woman as the sadistic head of a home for fallen girls. More than any others, the scenes with Valeska Gert stick in the viewer’s mind: While directing her scantily clad wards in gymnastics, beating a gong to keep time, Gert sends herself into a fearsome ecstasy which ends in a veritable orgasm. Her fame and recognition grew even more when she appeared as Mrs. Peachum in The Three-Penny Opera, also directed by Pabst.

Banned from performing in Germany from 1933 on as an avant-garde artist and Jew, Valeska Gert emigrated. After England and other places, she went to the USA in 1939. In 1941, she opened Beggar Bar in New York, a combination of cabaret and restaurant, which had to be closed again in 1945 because of licensing requirements. She implemented the wildest ideas in her bar to offer something counter to life’s adversities. She set out her own handmade table decorations, painted the walls herself and used candles instead of lamps. On the first evening, the cellar bar was already packed. Among others, Kadidja Wedekind performed there doing recitations of her father, Frank Wedekind’s poetry. One of Gert’s staff was Tennessee Williams, who would later become a world-famous playwright. Williams also read his own poems there. Judith Malina worked at the coat-check before going on to fame in Living Theater.

In 1947, Gert returned to Europe. After stops in Paris and Zürich, where she opened the cabaret Café Valeska und ihr Küchenpersonal (Café Valeska and her Kitchen Personnel), Gert travelled back to Berlin. It was 1949 and Berlin was under blockade. There, she opened the cabaret Bei Valeska (Valeska’s), and then Hexenküche (Witches Kitchen) the year after, hiring the young Klaus Kinski. At the Hexenküche, she herself played the concentration camp commandeuse Ilse Koch, a woman infamous for her cruelty. A bar decorated with hay followed: Ziegenstall (Goat Stall) opened at Kampen on the North Sea island Sylt in the year 1951. Once again, the servers were responsible for seeing to the guests’ creature comforts as well as their entertainment. But Valeska Gert never performed there herself.

Federico Fellini cast her in the film Juliet of the Spirits in 1965. Clad in a white wig, she took on the role of a factotum. On 28 June 1970, she was awarded the Filmband in Gold for her outstanding lifetime achievement in German cinema. She played in R.W. Fassbinder’s TV mini-series Eight Hours are Not a Day in 1973 and Volker Schlöndorff’s film Coup de Grâce in 1976. Werner Herzog had cast her in his remake of the Murnau classic Nosferatu (1978), but she died before filming could begin.

Valeska Gert was buried in Berlin, the city where she was born and the city she loved best, at the Ruhleben cemetery. Her autograph is engraved in pink on the black headstone.

A portrait of Valeska Gert is the centerpiece of the 28th TEDDY AWARD poster art. The poster was designed by Jonny Abbate. Artwork from the series “GOLDEN QUEERS” by Rinaldo Hopf.

January 14th, 2014: Last week in review

Missed the last Teddy-news? No time to check our daily updates on our blog and social media? Don’t worry! Here’s everything you shouldn’t have missed.

Less than a month to go! Berlinale is coming soon, and here at the office, the pressure is slowly but surely increasing. So is the amount of post-its on our desks, by the way.

Lots of work naturally means that we’ve got some interesting news to share with you all.
First of all, we are really happy to finally tell you that Sven Ratzke confirmed his presence on our TEDDY AWARD Gala stage! He will be performing a piece from his great version of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch with his band. They’ve been playing in Berlin and everywhere in Germany all summer and will present their show in the Netherlands soon. And as I’ve personally seen it, I can promise you: IT IS AWESOME! I’m actually not the only one saying this, as John Cameron Mitchell HIMSELF declared that it is the best Hedwig he has ever seen. Wow.

And that’s not the only big news: Jochen Schropp will be on stage too. If you’ve been to one of the last two TEDDY AWARD Galas, you probably remember him as our host from the past years, and we’re glad he’s back! His fans on twitter seem to agree with this, since they asked him if he’s part of the TEDDY AWARD even before we could officially confirm it:


Planning the TEDDY includes lots of running through Berlin. So this week, a part of the crew visited the Komische Oper again, this time with the TEDDY-Party artists David Pereira & Jack Woodhead to plan their WHIPSTICK act. Funny, apparently it will include something with a fish. As someone would say: Now you’re interested, huh? Intrigued, even?

And in case you want to read more, here are the last posts we recommend:

Sebastian’s Gender-bending for beginners

Esther’s introduction post to the blog

Our updated program of the TEDDY events for 2014 is here

Oh, and you’re still all welcome to write for us or submit pictures if you want to publish something on our blog :-)

That’s all for this week :-)


Gender bending for beginners

Easy exercise to overcome genders.

(Reading recommendation: To reach the full delight of the following text, it is recommended to read it out loud.)


der Film
the prize
das Blog

the prize
das Blog
der Film

der Film
das Blog
the prize

the Prize
der Film

le Blog
the Film
der prize

das prize
le Film
the Blog

der Blog
das Film
le prize

der Film
the prize
te ddy.


Gender-Bending à la Ernst Jandl.

And here we are.

The idea came almost out of nowhere. It was on a Sunday afternoon, one of the first cold days of this winter. A few of us were sitting in an empty office somewhere near Potsdamer Platz, trying to compensate having to work on a Sunday by eating both homemade brownies and delicious cakes while supposedly figuring out how to improve our film database – nothing really exciting. And somehow, the idea came up that the next thing to change about the Teddy’s website wasn’t the database, but the blog.

Because yes, we already had a blog. Or at least, something we called a blog – actually a beautifully written but terrible looking page hidden somewhere on our main website. Finding it wasn’t easy and despite all our efforts to make the articles look as beautiful as possible, the result was always the same. Teddy Today was a dark, static chaos with too small pictures and no videos – a nightmare to read or to work with.

So here we are, feeling like we’ve left an old, stinky, noisey moped for a really expensive high-class car, just by throwing WordPress on our website. Sometimes life can be easy, isn’t it?

Or maybe I should say “seem”. It hasn’t been so easy. We wanted more than a good-looking Teddy Today. And there will be more. Lots more.

I could start telling you about the articles we plan to write, about posting videos of our artists or about all the infos you will get here. I could tell you about how happy and proud we are to have this new tool to share the Teddy with you all. But believe me, this isn’t the most interesting part of it.

A guy called Doc Searls wrote that the internet isn’t a medium. It’s a place. This sounds good to us. A place: exactly what we want #teddyaward to be.  And not only a place to connect everything we do on the internet (yes, we are EVERYWHERE) or to post Sebastians Teddy Todays on a good-looking blog.

This is the place where we meet you. Teddy-guest or not, young, old, real hardcore nerd or just learning how to use your computer, Berliner or from some city we don’t know in a country we’ve never visited: you are all welcome here. Welcome to read and welcome to participate.

So please: comment, send us your pictures, videos and any ideas you might have about #teddyaward. Enjoy your time here, come back and help us build a nice, colourful chaos. It doesn’t have to be perfect, we aren’t and we don’t ask you to be. But we will need you. Because this place is actually yours.



PS: Are we being serious? Yes, definitely yes. Having a blog doesn’t mean we plan to spend our office time posting funny or even stupid pictures. Having fun together is an option, but we want to provide you real content. And lolcats are already all over the internet anyway.

PS2: And yes, we still have a main website for pure information, press or archives. You can find it here.

PS3: This doesn’t mean that Teddy Today will disappear. As always, our blogger Sebastian is watching films for you and looking forward to guide you through the queer Berlinale every day.