Source: Audi Berlinale 2015 by AudiAG is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (3)
Early beginnings & current status of the Berlinale
The Berlin International Film Festival, better known as Berlinale, is one of the three most important film festivals in the world and is held annually in Germany’s capital Berlin. Most people do not know that despite being held in Berlin, the idea for a Berlin film festival originated from a film officer of the US Army named Oscar Martay who was stationed in Berlin after the Second World War. Besides coming up with the idea, Mr. Martay also used his contacts and influence, to convince the American military administration to support the Berlinale during the first years after its inception. The first Berlinale opened its doors at the beginning of the Cold War in 1951.
Today with around 300.000 tickets sold and 500.000 admissions yearly, the Berlinale boasts the largest viewer numbers of any annually held film festival. Each year about 20 films compete for the festival’s main awards, the Golden Bear and several Silver Bears. With up to 400 films from different genres and sections of the film landscape shown, it caters to a variety of audiences and poses a vital event for global film culture.
Time & Place
The premiere edition of the Berlinale took place from 06th-17th June 1951 at the Titania-Palast Cinema with the awards ceremony on the night of 18 June 1951. In 1957 the festival was moved to the Zoo Palast Cinema and starting from 1978 the annual time frame of the festival was moved to February.
The 2021 edition of the Berlinale differs substantially from prior editions. Due to the circumstances brought on by the Corona pandemic, the festival is divided in two separate events:
The Golden Bear
The award ceremony is one of the most anticipated parts of a film festival. It determines the most critically acclaimed films of the year and decides which filmmakers have submitted the best productions. At the Berlinale, filmmakers can win two awards, i.e. the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear
The selection of the bear as the prestigious award has its own interesting (hi)story. The eccentric German female Sculptor Renée Sintenis originally designed it in 1932 as a small statue people would put on a shelf at home. It was inspired by the heraldic mascot of Berlin and it would later become the symbol of the festival. The original design had the bear standing on its rear legs and in 1960 it was changed with the bear’s left food slightly elevated. At the same time, its size was also enlarged and nowadays it stands 20 cm tall and weighs 4 kg.
So what is the difference between the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear? In accordance with the coloration, the Golden Bear is the highest award of the festival and is awarded to the winners in the categories Best Motion Picture, Best Short Film, and Lifetime Achievement. The Silver Bear on the other hand was introduced in 1956 as an individual award for Best Directing, Best Actor and Actress, Best Writing, Best Production and Second Best Short Film.
Source: “Ildikó Enyedi Golden Bear Berlinale 2017.jpg” by Maximilian Bühn is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Program of the Berlinale
Besides the award ceremony, the festival comprises of several other activities. In total there are seven different film sections which visitors of the Berlinale can choose from:
Traces of Indonesia at the Berlinale
Source: Kamila Andini, Indonesia-Germany Institute, Yogyakarta 2018-02-14 02.jpg” by Crisco 1492 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
As one of the largest international film festivals in the world, the Berlinale of course provides many opportunities for foreign filmmakers to participate in this prestigious event. From Indonesia, Kamila Andini is one of several young filmmakers who left their marks on the Berlinale. Her debut as a director “The Mirror Never Lies” was screened in 2012 at the Berlinale under the category Generation. The film tells the story of a young girl in a fishing community in Wakatobi who is looking for her father who was lost at sea. With her latest submission at the Berlinale in 2018, Kamila Andini won the Grand Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the film “Sekala Niskala (The Seen Unseen)”.