Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival (German: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), usually called the Berlinale, is a film festival held annually in Berlin, Germany.[1] Founded in West Berlin in 1951,[2] the festival has been held every February since 1978 and is one of the "Big Three" alongside the Venice Film Festival in Italy and the Cannes Film Festival in France.[3][4] Since 2019, Mariette Rissenbeek serves as the executive director of the festival, while Carlo Chatrian is the artistic director.[5]

Berlin International Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival logo.svg
LocationBerlin, Germany
AwardsGolden Bear, Silver Bear
Artistic directorCarlo Chatrian
No. of films441 (945 screenings) in 2014

With around 300,000 tickets sold and 500,000 admissions each year, it has the largest public attendance of any annual film festival.[6] Up to 400 films are shown in several sections across cinematic genres. Around twenty films compete for the festival's top awards, called the Golden Bear and several Silver Bears.

The European Film Market (EFM), a film trade fair held simultaneously to the Berlinale, is a major industry meeting for the international film circuit.[7] The trade fair serves distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers and co-production agents. The Berlinale Talents, a week-long series of lectures and workshops, is a gathering of young filmmakers held in partnership with the festival.[8]

The film festival, EFM, and other satellite events are attended by around 20,000 professionals from over 130 countries.[9] More than 4,200 journalists produce media coverage in over 110 countries.[10] At some high-profile feature film premieres held during the festival, movie stars and celebrities are present on the red carpet.[11]

The 70th Berlin International Film Festival took place from 20 February to 1 March 2020.[12]


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.[13][14][14][15][2] 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.[2] 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[2][13][16] with film historian Dr. Alfred Bauer as its first director, a position he would hold until 1976.[17] Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca opened the first festival at the Titiana-Palast in Steglitz on 6 June 1951.[18] The first festival ran from 6–17 June[18] with Waldbühne being another festival venue.[18][2]

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.[19] Cinderella, which won the Golden Bear for a Music Film,[20] also won the audience award.[18] The FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films) banned the awarding of jury prizes at the festival[18] so between 1952 and 1955, the winners of the Golden Bear were determined by the audience members.[21] In 1956, FIAPF formally accredited the festival[18] and since then the Golden Bear has been awarded by an international jury.[21]

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..[18] The following year, the festival was reformed and a new International Forum for New Cinema was created.[18]

Bauer was succeeded by film journalist Wolf Donner in 1976,[22] who gave German films higher priority.[18] After his first Berlinale in June 1977, he successfully negotiated the shift of the festival from the June to February (22 February – 5 March 1978), a change which has remained ever since.[23] 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.[18] 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.[24] The 1978 festival also saw the start of the European Film Market.[18]

After only three years in the role, Donner was followed by Moritz de Hadeln who held the position from 1980 [25] until director Dieter Kosslick took over in 2001.[26]

In 2000, the Theater am Potsdamer Platz, known as the Berlinale Palast during the festival, became the festival's principal venue.[18] Since 2009, Friedrichstadt-Palast has also been used.

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.[27][28]

Festival programmeEdit

Venues of the festival are spread throughout the central city districts
The Berlinale Palast is the venue for the competition premieres

The festival is composed of seven different film sections.[29] Films are chosen in each category by a section director with the advice of a committee of film experts. Categories include:

Competition: comprises feature-length films yet to be released outside their country of origin. Films in the Competition section compete for several prizes, including the top Golden Bear for the best film and a series of Silver Bears for acting, writing and production.[30]

Panorama: comprises new independent and arthouse films that deal with "controversial subjects or unconventional aesthetic styles". Films in the category are intended to provoke discussion, and have historically involved themes such as LGBT issues.[31]

Forum: comprises experimental and documentary films from around the world with a particular emphasis on screening works by younger filmmakers. There are no format or genre restrictions, and films in the Forum do not compete for awards.[32]

Generation: comprises a mixture of short and feature-length films aimed at children and youths. Films in the Generation section compete in two sub-categories: Generation Kplus (aimed at those aged four and above) and Generation 14plus (aimed at those aged fourteen and above). Awards in the section are determined by three separate juries—the Children's Jury, the Youth Jury and an international jury of experts—, whose decisions are made independently of one another.[33]

Perspektive Deutsches Kino: comprises a wide variety of German films, with an emphasis on highlighting current trends in German cinema. There are few entry requirements, enabling emerging filmmakers to display their work to domestic and international audiences.[34]

Berlinale Shorts: comprises domestic and international short films, especially those that demonstrate innovative approaches to filmmaking. Films in the category compete for the Golden Bear for the best short film, as well as a jury-nominated Silver Bear.[35]

Retrospective: comprises classic films previously shown at the Berlinale, with films collated from the Competition, Forum, Panorama and Generation categories. Each year, the Retrospective section is dedicated to important themes or filmmakers. The special Homage series similarly examines past cinema, with a focus on honouring the life work of directors and actors.[36]

In addition to the seven sections, the Berlinale also contains several linked "curated special series", including the Berlinale Special, Gala Special, Forum Expanded, and the Homage.[29] In 2020, Culinary Cinema was dropped while a new section called Encounters was established.[37] Since 2002, a 50-second trailer opens the performances in all sections of the festival with the exception of the Retrospective.[citation needed]

Main competition jury presidentsEdit

Since 1956, the jury of the Festival has been chaired by an internationally recognized personality of cinema.[38]

Year President Profession Nationality
1956 Marcel Carné Director France
1957 Jay Carmody Film Critic United States
1958 Frank Capra Director United States
1959 Robert Aldrich Director United States
1960 Harold Lloyd Actor United States
1961 James Quinn Film Administrator United Kingdom
1962 King Vidor Director United States
1963 Wendy Toye Dancer United Kingdom
1964 Anthony Mann Director, Actor United States
1965 John Gillett Film Critic United Kingdom
1966 Pierre Braunberger Film Producer France
1967 Thorold Dickinson Director United Kingdom
1968 Luis García Berlanga Director Spain
1969 Johannes Schaaf Director Germany
1970 George Stevens Director United States
1971 Bjørn Rasmussen Poet Denmark
1972 Eleanor Perry Screenwriter United States
1973 David Robinson Film Critic United Kingdom
1974 Rodolfo Kuhn Director Argentina
1975 Sylvia Syms Actress United Kingdom
1976 Jerzy Kawalerowicz Director Poland
1977 Senta Berger Actress Austria
1978 Patricia Highsmith Writer United States
1979 Jörn Donner Director Finland
1980 Ingrid Thulin Actress Sweden
1981 Jutta Brückner Director, Screenwriter Germany
1982 Joan Fontaine Actress United States
1983 Jeanne Moreau Actress France
1984 Liv Ullmann Actress Norway
1985 Jean Marais Actor France
1986 Gina Lollobrigida Actress Italy
1987 Klaus Maria Brandauer Actor Austria
1988 Guglielmo Biraghi Film Critic Italy
1989 Rolf Liebermann Composer Switzerland
1990 Michael Ballhaus Cinematographer Germany
1991 Volker Schlöndorff Director, Screenwriter Germany
1992 Annie Girardot Actress France
1993 Frank Beyer Director Germany
1994 Jeremy Thomas Film Producer United Kingdom
1995 Lia van Leer Film Programmer, Film Archivist Israel
1996 Nikita Mikhalkov Actor, Director Russia
1997 Jack Lang Politician France
1998 Ben Kingsley Actor United Kingdom
1999 Ángela Molina Actress Spain
2000 Gong Li Actress China
2001 Bill Mechanic Film Producer United States
2002 Mira Nair Director India
2003 Atom Egoyan Director Canada
2004 Frances McDormand Actress United States
2005 Roland Emmerich Director Germany
2006 Charlotte Rampling Actress United Kingdom
2007 Paul Schrader Director, Screenwriter United States
2008 Costa-Gavras Director France
2009 Tilda Swinton Actress United Kingdom
2010 Werner Herzog Director, Screenwriter Germany
2011 Isabella Rossellini Actress Italy
2012 Mike Leigh Director, Screenwriter United Kingdom
2013 Wong Kar-wai Director Hong Kong
2014 James Schamus Screenwriter United States
2015 Darren Aronofsky Director, Screenwriter United States
2016 Meryl Streep Actress United States
2017 Paul Verhoeven Director, Screenwriter Netherlands
2018 Tom Tykwer Director, Screenwriter Germany
2019 Juliette Binoche Actress France
2020 Jeremy Irons Actor United Kingdom


A Golden Bear statue
Jafar Panahi holds his Silver Bear statue at the 2006 festival

The Golden Bear (German: Goldener Bär) is the highest prize awarded for the best film at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Golden Bear (Goldener Bär)

Silver Bear (Silberner Bär)

The Silver Bear was introduced in 1956 as an award for individual achievements in direction and acting, and for best short film.[citation needed]

In 1965 a special film award for the runner-up to the Golden Bear was introduced. Although its official name was the Special Jury Prize from 1965 to 1999, and has been the Jury Grand Prix since 2000, it is commonly known as the Silver Bear (just like the awards for individual achievements) as it is regarded as a second place award after the Golden Bear.[citation needed]

In 2002 a Silver Bear for best film music, and in 2008 an award for best screenplay.[citation needed]

Other awards at the Berlin International Film Festival

  • Panorama Publikumspreis, the Audience Award
  • Berlinale Camera, a special award for services to the Festival
  • A Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the 14plus section of the Generation Competition
  • A Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the Kplus section of the Generation Competition
  • Teddy Award for films with LGBT topics
  • Shooting Stars Award for young European acting talent, awarded by European Film Promotion

European Film MarketEdit

The European Film Market takes place at the Martin-Gropius-Bau

The European Film Market (EFM) is one of three largest movie markets in the world.[42] Started in 1978,[18] it is the business centre during the time of the Berlinale. The EFM is the major venue for film producers, buyers, financiers, sales agents, and distributors. It is a professional trade event, so is open to registered industry insiders. In 2011, 400 companies registered and 6,982 market badges were issued; 1,532 buyers have registered.[43]

The trade fair provides exhibition space for companies presenting their current line-up. It organizes over 1000 screenings of new films, which take place at movie theatres around Potsdamer Platz. In 2007, the CinemaxX and CineStar were used to showcase new productions. In 2010, the Astor Film Lounge showed market screenings in three dimensions using digital RealD technology.

The Berlinale Co-Production Market is a three-day networking platform for producers and financiers, as well as broadcasting and funding representatives who are participating in international co-productions. At the Berlinale Co-Production Market, producers can introduce selected projects and find co-production partners and/or financiers in one-on-one meetings.

Berlinale TalentsEdit

Wim Wenders attended the Talent Campus as a lecturer

Commencing in 2003, the Berlinale has partnered with the Berlinale Talents (previously Berlinale Talent Campus), which is a winter school for "up-and-coming filmmakers" that takes place at the same time as the festival. The Talent Campus accepts about 250 applicants each year; the attendees come from around the world, and represent all of the filmmaking professions.[44]

The event runs six days during the Berlinale and features lectures and panel discussions with well-known professionals addressing issues in filmmaking. Workshops, excursions, personal tutoring, coaching, and training of participants from different fields of work are part of the programme.

The proceedings include presentations by distinguished experts,[45] who have included Park Chan-wook, Frances McDormand, Stephen Frears, Dennis Hopper, Jia Zhangke, Walter Murch, Shah Rukh Khan, Joshua Oppenheimer, Anthony Minghella, Charlotte Rampling, Walter Salles, Ridley Scott, Raoul Peck, Tom Tykwer, Mike Leigh, Tilda Swinton, and Wim Wenders.[citation needed] Many of these presentations and lectures are archived, both as video recordings and as transcripts, on the Talent Campus' website.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ China film wins top Berlin award, BBC News
  2. ^ a b c d e "Oscar Martay". Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  3. ^ Valck, Marijke de; Kredell, Brendan; Loist, Skadi (26 February 2016). Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice. ISBN 9781317267218.
  4. ^ Scott Roxborough. "Berlin Rebooted: Festival Shuffles Lineup, Aims for Recharged Market". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ "Berlinale 2020: Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek Announce the First Developments". Berlin International Film Festival. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  6. ^ Facts and Figures of the Berlinale,
  7. ^ Berlin Film Festival a market force, Variety, 13. February 2008
  8. ^ Berlin Talent campus wins hearts,
  9. ^ 2009 Berlinale Press release,, 18. February 2008
  10. ^ Kosslick zieht positive Berlinale-Bilanz Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine(German),
  11. ^ Madonna at the Berlinale on YouTube, 19. February 2008
  12. ^ "Teddy Award - The official queer award at the Berlin International Film Festival". Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b The Berlinale, Berlin’s International Film Festival,, retrieved 24/7/2016
  14. ^ a b Germany, SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg. "60 Years of Berlinale: A Film Festival of Propaganda, Stars and Scandal". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  15. ^ Wong, Cindy H. (1 January 2011). Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813551210.
  16. ^ Berlin International Film Festival, Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 24/7/2016
  17. ^ "Archive 1951: The beginnings". Berlinale Press Office. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Berlinale beginnings". Variety. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "Prizes & Honours 1951". Berlinale. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  21. ^ a b "- Berlinale – Archive – Annual Archives – 1952 – Juries". Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  22. ^ "Archive 1977: A promising start for Wolf Donner". Berlinale Press Office. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  23. ^ Langford, Michelle (2012). Directory of World Cinema: Germany. 9. Bristol, UK / Chicago, USA: Intellect. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-84150-465-0.
  24. ^ "PRIZES & HONOURS 1978". Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  25. ^ "Archive 1980: Moritz de Hadeln's first year: Consequent Renewal". Berlinale Press Office. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Archive 2002: All remains new". Berlinale Press Office. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  27. ^ Barraclough, Leo (22 June 2018). "Mariette Rissenbeek, Carlo Chatrian to Become Co-Chiefs of Berlin Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  28. ^ Mueller, Matt (1 August 2018). "Berlin Film Festival's new co-chief Mariette Rissenbeek on her appointment and future plans". Screen Daily. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  29. ^ a b (2010). "The Festival Sections: An Overview". Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  30. ^ (2010). "Competition". Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  31. ^ (2010). "Panorama". Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  32. ^ (2010). "Forum". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  33. ^ (2010). "Generation". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  34. ^ (2010). "Perspektive Deutsches Kino". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  35. ^ (2010). "Berlinale Shorts". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  36. ^ (2010). "Retrospective & Homage". Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  37. ^ "Festival Sections". Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "THE HONORARY GOLDEN BEAR". Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  40. ^ Prizes of the International Jury Last accessed 20130116
  41. ^ a b Berlinale. Archive. Prize winners 1956. Retrieved 27 January 2019
  42. ^ Kodak Cinema&Television Press Release,
  43. ^ EFM Facts and Figures Archived 3 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 14. November 2011
  44. ^ Berlinale Talents, berlinale-talentcampus
  45. ^ Talent Campus adds to lineup, Variety

External linksEdit