Drawing over half a million visitors from around the globe each year ” The Berlinale” held annually in Berlin, Germany is the largest and one of the most prestigious Film festivals of the world. Both Film professionals and spectators from over 130 plus countries join this massive, diverse and enthralling experience held for eleven consecutive days in February.
The Berlin International Film Festival is enriched with a remarkable history. It was inaugurated in 1951 at the peak of the cold war as a “showcase of the free world”. On the 6th of June, 1951 Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” opened the first Berlin International Film Festival at the Titania-Palast cinema in Steglitz. The first festival which was greatly embraced by the people was held from 6-17 June and in addition showcased at another venue;Waldbühne.
The highest awards presented at the award ceremony are the Golden Bear and Silver Bears. The first Golden Bear was awarded to ” Cinderella” a music film which also won the audience award. The winners of the 1951 awards were determined by a West German panel.Howe er choosing winners by a jury was subsequently banned by the FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films). From 1952 to 1955, winners of the Golden bear were selected by the audience. In 1956, after gaining formal recognition from FIAPF, “The Berlinale” set onto award the Golden Bear by an International jury.
The Festival comprises of varying film categories, namely Competition, Encounters, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, Berlinale Shorts and Retrospective. A section director selects films under each category with the guidance of film experts.
The ‘Competition’ is the Festival’s cynosure. Films in this category premieres to the audience and competes for the Golden Bear, awarded for the Best film and Silver Bears for Acting, Producing and Writing.
‘Encounters’ is the platform aimed at promoting aesthetically and structurally bold works from independent, innovative filmmakers.
‘Panorama’ constitutes of films dealing with controversial matters and unconventional aesthetics. This has the biggest jury as well as its very own audience award.
‘Forum’ seeks out the experimental and Documentary films with much emphasis on young film makers exploring diverse artistic aspects.
‘Generation’ comprises of both short and feature-length films targeted at children and youths. Generation is subdivided as Generation Kplus which is aimed at those aged four and above and Generation 14plus which is aimed at those aged fourteen and above. The Children’s Jury, the Youth Jury and an international jury of experts, all independently determine the winners of this category.
‘Perspektive Deutsches Kino’ encompasses a range of German films emphasizing the current trends in German Cinema.
‘Berlinale Shorts’ include local and international short films. Films in this category compete for the Golden Bear for the Best Short film and a jury nominated Silver Bear.
‘Retrospective’ comprises older films once screened at the Berlinale. It pays tribute to the beloved classics.
In addition to these categories the festival comprises linked “curated special series”. Encounters was introduced in 2020 and in the same year Culinary Cinema was dropped.
The most recent Festival, the 70th Berlin International Film Festival was held from 20th of February to 1st of March 2020.