Five tips to help get through the Berlinale in style

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It may be the end of the world as we know it, what with the financial meltdown and all those pink-slip parties. But if you're going to be dancing on the edge of the volcano, what better place to do it than in Berlin? Here's a city that's seen its way through one cold and two hot world wars. A city that's survived Nazis, communism and venture capitalism. A city that's been flat-broke for decades but doesn't let that get in the way of having a good time. As you struggle through this year's Berlinale, let THR be your guide to how to get the most out of your stay.

Play It Cheap: No expense account? No problem! You're in Berlin, the cheapest big city in Europe, where cutting back doesn't have to mean going without. Skip lunch at the Adlon and take your clients to Gugelhof in Mitte or any among dozens of low-cost, high-cool eateries around town. And for a night out, how about some live music? All the cool indie acts that tour L.A. and New York hit Berlin, but here you can actually afford them. Check out hekticket.de/exberliner for dates and locations.

Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em: Nothing like a ciggie break to take your mind off the fact that your bank just rejected your loan and your French presale went Chapter Onze. The Europe-wide ban on public smoking theoretically applies to Berlin, but the city's senate has squeezed in so many exceptions to the law that you can easily spend the whole festival puffing your life away. Look for the proudly displayed pro-smoking logo at participating locales.

Exploit the Obama Bump: The U.S. economy might be headed for the worst recession since the 1930s, but the world no longer hates us -- thanks to President Obama. And outside Chicago, no city loves Barack more than Berlin. Since his Kennedy-esque speech here last summer, locals have exchanged their Down With Bush placards for Obama Mama T's. Being American is a plus again, so play it to your advantage. When that Spanish buyer is questioning your ability to deliver on time, tell him: "Yes We Can!"

Get a dose of real culture: Berlin can't match Cannes for beaches. It can't touch Venice for canals or cuisine. But when it comes to music, you're standing in the classical capital of the world. So give your eyeballs a night off and treat your ears to Kent Nagano conducting Schubert, Sir Simon Rattle's take on Schumann or Yoel Gamzou's Mahler. It'll give you a chance to use that tux you won't need for the dressed-down Berlinale premieres.

Enjoy Yourself: Let's face it, you might not be back. Hustle all you want to chase down that big Asian sale or lock up that hot new Belgian director for your next project. It's still a crapshoot whether any of these guys will be around next year. Hell, Bollywood could buy out Warners come April. So after you've done your best to keep your day job, use the night to live a little. Berlin does its best to defend the title of "coolest city in Europe," and every evening can be a potential all-nighter. From hip clubs like Matrix, Maria and Weekend to the X-rated naughtiness of the legendary KitKatClub, Berlin's got a flavor for everyone. So grab that Swedish flack you've been flirting with for years and forget about making the 8:30 meeting.
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