History of Berlin International Film Festival

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History of Berlin International Film Festival

History of Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival is started from today(1st March). This is the most popular Film festival in Berlin. The history of Berlin International Film Festival has held so many interesting facts relating to this festival.

This Festival is founded in West Berlin in 1951. This festival has been held every February since 1978.

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During the peak of the Cold War in 1950, Oscar Martay, a film officer of the Information Service Branch of the American High Commissioner for Germany stationed in Berlin, Proposed the idea of a film festival in Berlin.

The Proposal was put through a committee including members of the senate of Berlin and people from the German Film industry on 9 October 1950.

Through his efforts and influence, the American military administration was persuaded to assist and to give loans for the first years of the Berlin International Film Festival, Which commenced in June 1951 with film historian Dr. Alfred Bauer as its first director, a position he would hold until 1976.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca opened the first festival at the Titiana- Palast in Steglitz on 6 June 1951. The First Festival ran from 6-17 June with Waldbuhne being another festival venue.

The winners of the first awards in 1951 were determined by a West German panel, and there were five winners of the Golden Bear, divided by categories and genres. 

Cinderella, which won the Golden Bear for a Music Film, also won the audience award. The FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films) banned the awarding of jury prizes at the festival.

So between 1952 and 1955, the winners of the Golden Bear were determined by the audience members. 

In 1956, FIAPF formally accredited the festival and since then the Golden Bear has been awarded by an international jury.

During the Cold War, a selection of films was also screened in East Berlin.

The 20th edition of the festival in 1970 was cut short and awards not issued following controversy over the showing of Michael Verhoeven’s film o.k. 

The following year, the festival was reformed and a new International Forum for New Cinema was created.

Bauer was succeeded by film journalist Wolf Donner in 1976, who gave German films higher priority. After his first Berlinale in June 1977, he successfully negotiated the shift of the festival from June to February (22 February – 5 March 1978), a change which has remained ever since.

That festival, the 28th edition, saw the jury award the Golden Bear to Spain for its contribution to the festival rather than a specific film. The three Spanish films which were screened at the festival and won it were short film Ascensor directed by Tomás Muñoz and feature films La palabras de Max by Emilio Martínez Lázaro and Las truchas by José Luis García Sánchez.

After only three years in the role, Donner was followed by Moritz de Hadeln who held the position from 1980 until director Dieter Kosslick took over in 2001.

In 2000, the Theater is Potsdamer Platz, known as the Berlinale Palast during the festival, became the festival’s principal venue. 

In June 2018, it was announced that Mariette Rissenbeek would serve as the new executive director alongside artistic director Carlo Chatrian.

They assumed their posts after Kosslick’s final edition in 2019. Rissenbeek became the first woman to lead the Berlinale.