The Berlin International Film Festival or "Berlinale" was launched in 1951 after World War II to bring Berlin back to its glory during the twenties before World War I and World War II. The Berlinale marked its first launch as it opened up by the screening of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca."
The festival is held each February and has been held on that month since 1951. They have the most visitors worldwide along with a jury that emphasizes on representing films around the world. As the Venice Film Festival awards Gold and Silver Lions, the Berlin International Film Festival awards both Golden and Silver Bears.
Their designated location is at the Berlinale Palast which is at Marline-Dietrich-Platz 1. The 58th BIFF was held from February 7th-17th of 2007. The committee for the BIFF would meet on October 9, 1950 which would be their first meeting.
The idea was initiated by Oscar Martay, an American Film Officer. Martay, British colleague George Turner, two representatives of the Berlin Senate Administration, four represenatives of the Germany film industry, and a journalist make up the committee. The name of "Berlin International Film Festival" is agreed on and the dates of June 6th-17th of 1951 are also agreed upon.
Dr. Alfred Bauer a film historian is appointed the festival director. Joan Fontaine who starred in "Rebecca" is the celebrated star guest of the festival. The first BIFF was a complete success as the festival was sold-out.
The Berlin Bears were awarded to the categories of dramatic film, comedies, crime and adventure films, musical films, and documentary films. The jury was made up of exclusively German members. Disney's "Cinderella" was elected as a favorite by the jury. Due to pressure from the Federation Internationale des Associations des Producteurs de Films, prizes will chosen by the audience.
In 1952, the FIAPF banned the BIFF from letting a jury award official prizes. 1953, the BIFF suffers a substantial drop in the audience and festival atmosphere due to the workers' revolve in East Berlin. Actor Gary Cooper openly criticizes Senator and Communist-hunter Joseph McCarthy. He is met by ambivalence in Berlin as a result.
Due to the presence of the USSR, the BIFF had to secure other means of funding. At the same time, Eastern European films were absent. It was going well into the Cold War between the United States and the USSR. The eastern part of Europe was well under Soviet control.
In 1955, the Federal Republic of Germany is seen as an official supporter of the BIFF. In 1956, the BIFF received "A" status. Meaning, the BIFF was now an A-class film festival. The number of professional guests and journalists have doubled. As a result, the BIFF would grow fast. In 1958, the USSR is invited for the first time to submit films to the BIFF.
Inviation is turned down, though. The BIFF would face very harsh times in the 60s when the Berlin Wall was erected on August 13, 1961 as Berlin was now divided. From there, the BIFF was very weak and had low attendance. Mainly due to the Berlin Wall and the absence of visitors from Eastern Germany.
Later in the decades, the BIFF would be the most important festival for Eastern European films. Before the taking down of the Berlin Wall in the 90s, the BIFF would be held in both parts of Berlin.
From a harsh period of the Cold War, the BIFF has persevered and it had paid off. From then, the BIFF has grown to be one of the major international film festivals in the world. It now brings a plethora of stars from all over the world to Berlin.