Berlin Fest Changes Award Named After Founder Following Nazi Revelations

Alfred Bauer
Courtesy of the Berlin Film Festival

The Berlin Festival had suspended the Alfred Bauer Prize, named after the festival's first director, after newspaper reports that he had been a member of the Nazis' film propaganda ministry.

The Berlin Film Festival will rebrand the Alfred Bauer Prize, named after the festival's first director, following revelations about Bauer's activities under the Nazis.

Bauer was a film historian who ran the Berlinale from its start in 1951 through 1976. Since his death in 1986, Berlin has awarded the Alfred Bauer Prize in his honor, recognizing works that "open new perspectives on cinematic art."

But new revelations, first reported in German newspaper Die Zeit, showed that Bauer was not what he appeared to be. Documents from the early 1940s indicate the "film historian" was an active and enthusiastic member of the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler and was a high-ranking member of the Reichsfilmintendanz, the film division of the Nazis' propaganda ministry.

In response, the Berlin festival first suspended the Alfred Bauer prize while it investigated the new allegations.

On Tuesday, the festival announced it would be dropping the name Bauer from the award and would instead present a special award, the Silver Bear - 70th Berlinale, in its place and in honor of the festival's 70th anniversary.

The festival said after talks with various research institutions it has commissioned the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) to carry out an independent investigation into Bauer's past.

“We are convinced that an external and independent group of historians should investigate Alfred Bauer’s position in the Nazi regime,” said Berlinale executive director Mariette Rissenbeek. "Accordingly, we are pleased that the IfZ can now initiate the necessary research work."

The IfZ's report is expected by the summer.

The 70th Berlin International Film Festival kicks off Thursday and runs through March 1.