The Berlinale's first six decades

Empty

During the past 60 years, the Berlin International Film Festival has reinvented itself not once but several times, as seismic political and cultural changes have transformed the city and Germany itself. On the eve of the 60th Berlinale, The Hollywood Reporter looks at the past.


Sophia Loren, Yvonne de Carlo and Gina Lollobrigida strike a pose at a film ball in 1954
 
1950s/1960s -- Out of the Rubble

The Allied Forces set up the International Film Festival Berlin, in the rubble of West Berlin, five years after the end of World War II. Held during the city's blazing summer, the fest is a glamour-heavy event, with Mae West, Errol Flynn and Rita Hayworth alongside such West European stars as Romy Schneider and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The political motive behind it is to create an alluring, sexy version of capitalism to contrast with the socialist ideal on the other side of the city.

1970s -- The Decade of Rebellion


A chill fell over the Berlin fest long before it moved to February in 1978. By the late '60s, cracks were showing in Berlin's happy, Disney-fied facade, with opposition to the Vietnam War and student revolt pushing its way into the official program. By the '70s the protesters have taken over. New German Cinema directors -- Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Volker Schloendorff and most prominently Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- reshape Berlin in their image, creating a rougher, more avant guard festival.

1980s -- New Voices

Berlin had always been friendly toward gay cinema, at least since 1971, when Rosa von Praunheim opened the forum sidebar with "It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives." But in the '80s, Berlin jumps out of the closet with the Panorama section, which creates a permanent platform for queer cinema. Berlin also starts showing a more liberal attitude toward the East Bloc, lifting the Iron Curtain for directors such as Hungary's Istvan Szabo, Poland's Andrzej Wajda and East Germany's Konrad Wolf.


Jane Mansfield does a stage dive in1961
 
1990s -- Asian Wave

The Berlin Wall falls in 1989 and festival director Moritz de Hadeln wastes no time in opening up Berlin to the East -- the Far East. Cinema from China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong becomes an inseparable part of Germany's leading festival as Berlin audiences welcome a new wave of Asian films from directors such as Stanley Kwan, Ang Lee, Yoichi Higashi and Chan-Wook Park.

The '00s -- Berlin Comes Into its Own
 

Dieter Kosslick's first festival in 2002 marks a passing of the baton. Berlin, renamed the German capital in 1999, is starting to get used to being a center of power again. German cinema is also becoming more self confident. Kosslick pushes homegrown directors into the competition spotlight, where they shine. The European Film Market's fortunes also brighten with the demise of Mifed and AFM's move to November, leaving Berlin as the first big, can't-miss film market of the year.
comments powered by Disqus