Berlin is the perfect city to represent what a cultural meet-up point could look like. Creative minds from all over the world congregate in the German capital to expand their horizons, explore new ways of expressing themselves, and connect with fellow humans who are thirsty for creation. This description is both accurate for the city and for the very relevant event that has been taking place there since 2016, the Forecast Festival. In its eighth edition, the symbiotic dynamic between mentors and mentees on which this festival is based extends to a wide range of creative fields, making space for unique stories to be born and giving them a stage and an opportunity to share them with the world. We were able to witness it firsthand, and here's what went down. 
The climax of Forecast Festival happened during the nights of March 15 and 16 in Radialsystem, but this was just the peak of a massive iceberg that has been built for more than a year in an extensive, insighful, and intense process in which a common point has been searched by mentors and mentees, and a new story was born out of it. The efficacy of this concept, where renowned and prestigious professionals take emerging artists under their wing to guide them and help them explore new paths and ideas, is proven by just looking at the impressive numbers that were handled during this edition. 800 applications from over 100 countries were received and narrowed first to 18 nominees who participated in the Forcast forum this past July, where they got the chance to meet and discuss ideas with their potential mentors, and then to six names, the chosen ones whose work we experienced live.
Starting with a heartfelt introduction by the artistic director of the festival, Freo Majer, it was clear from minute one the passion and love everyone involved in this project worked with. There's a genuine and very honest will to give the artistic expression a respectable and serious stage where it can reach further lengths than just the artist's brain, which translates into a well-curated and well-organised experience for both the performers and the spectators that makes this event one with a real soul and honest intentions behind it.
The event started in a very melodic way with the live session by Carlos Gutiérrez and Greg Fox, both musicians, first mentee, second mentor. Coming from different backgrounds—Carlos coming from Bolivia and Greg from the USA—there was a difference in influences and inspiration that got unified during their joint trip to Tokyo. One of the steps of this mentoring process includes a work-stay trip to a new place where they can both get inspired and find a common meeting point, this being the concept of rhythm and sonic illusions. The result translated first in a hypnotic joint performance of Fox on the drums and Gutierrez playing a wide variety of traditional Andean instruments, and then in the Infinite Wrap and Weft, a sound installation where everyone could be part of by playing wind pipes in the way they wanted to, creating new and different melodies and thinking of the music more in terms of movement than fixed positions.
IIt was nice to see a familiar name, Georgia-born Irakli Rusadze, creative director of Situationist, as one of the mentors. This is the first year the programme has included fashion among its disciplines. He has managed to establish a reputation for his label that allows him to speak from experience, and with the South African designer Aidan Jayson Peters as his protege, the synergy was very evident. Coming from two countries that are not yet known for their fashion industry but that have a strong creative energy to them as well as interesting discourse around them, the match made a lot of sense. Peters presented a capsule collection that reflected on the life of garments, using deadstock to create new pieces. Being Johannesburg, one of the places that ends up with the most quantity of "discarded" garments not wanted in Europe, it opens an important conversation about overproduction, contamination, and the questionable ethics behind the fashion industry. 
Fellow Georgian artist Mari Kalabegashvili was also part of Forecast, but as a mentee, working with artist, filmmaker, and writer Roee Rosen as a mentor, who, on a rare occasion, had not only Mari but also Gustavo Gomes, choreographer, director, and filmmaker, as a mentee as well. Kalabegashvili took inspiration from Tbilisi's buzzing car racing culture, which goes far beyond the mere vehicle and reflects a particular position these male-dominated groups have towards the city and its borders, literally and metaphorically. For this, she created an installation with a great number of photographs portraying the moments surrounding these encounters from a very insider point of view, enhancing interesting details such as the difference night and day make in the whole meaning of these practices.
Gustavo Gomes, on his side, presented Manhandle, a very raw docufiction short film that reflects on the sexual violence committed by men against men. In a videogame-esque aesthetic, the actors suffered, acquired traumas, tried to fight them, and found copying mechanisms. The colourful and pop look to it, despite its very serious topic, was made to allude to the childhood years, in which very often the traumatic event that will change the destiny of a whole life happens, and leaves the one suffering it with a toxic yet weirdly comforting link to their early years.
Reflecting on the influence of the past in the present and the future, Chilean-Canadian writer Marcela Huertas finds inspiration in her own mother for her proposal. With South African poet, editor, and academic Gabeba Baderoon as his mentor, Huertas established an intimate conversation in a co-narrating style with her mother with the purpose of understanding and revisiting her experience as a refugee after the 1973 Chilean coup and how all of these traumatic events have informed not only her life but her daughter's life, exploring the meaning and impact of the intergenerational trauma in a poetic and empathetic manner.
Japanese performer Yuya Tsukahara, one of the mentors, introduced the act of his mentees with a fun and unique activity, alluding to the humorous reputation of the Osaka citizens and the memories of an old professor who always pointed at everything with his middle finger. Yuya went through every single audience member and touched his middle fingers to theirs in a very ET way. With such a sense of humour, it made sense that the collective led by Victor Artiga Rodriguez approached their mentee performance the same way. Taking the kidney as the main concept, an extended and metaphorical coreographical play was developed in which the entertaining reenactment of touching kidney with kidney or jumping over someone else's kidney in a literal way hid a much darker inspiration: the worrying amount of kidney failure-related deaths in Rodriguez country, El Salvador, due to the lack of welfare in the farming process and the water treatment.
It is made evident how much this opportunity to showcase their visions means to the creators, not missing a chance to thank the organisation and the big team behind the scenes that helped the show run smoothly from start to finish. The reflection made by Tsukahara on his performance rounds up the creative, but combative, and freeing experience. Forecast is "To survive as an artist, it is important to have a nice middle finger that you don't often use, but that you know it's there in case of emergency.".