The Berlin International Film Festival: between cold war politics and postwar reorientation
Studies in European Cinema
This essay focuses on the formative first two decades of the Berlin International Film Festival. Based upon archival material from Berlin and the United States, it offers a historically informed account of the emergence, evolution, and meanings of the Berlinale, which was established in 1950/51 at the suggestion of a U.S. film officer in the western half of divided Berlin. The essay is structured around three themes. 1) The politics and intended function of the Berlinale: how it was justified and branded early in the Cold War as a showcase for western, democratic, and commercial values. 2) Audiences and outreach: how festival organizers recruited participants and attracted audiences, including strategies to lure East Germans. 3) The relationship between the Berlinale and the reconstruction of German film culture following Nazi defeat and military occupation, particularly in light of postwar concerns of West German officials, religious leaders, cultural elites, and film-industry personnel. Moving beyond the cold-war origins of the Berlinale, the essay examines the festival in relation to postwar German film politics, an enlivened German film festival scene, and domestic debates about the proper role and control of film culture in the transition from fascist to democratic practices.
Berlin International Film Festival, cold war culture, film clubs, film leagues, German film politics, Oberhausen Film Festival
Fehrenbach, Heide, "The Berlin International Film Festival: between cold war politics and postwar reorientation" (2020). NIU Bibliography. 134.
Department of History