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The Years of the Berlin Film Festival
Posted February 11, 2010 to photo album "The Years of the Berlin Film Festival"
The Berlinale turns 60 this year. What a strange journey it’s been.
Slide 10: 1979 - International Conflict
A scene from The Deer Hunter.
In his third (and last) year, director Wolf Donner, who’d done much to promote harmony between the programs and filmmakers, hit an international crisis. The admission of Michael Cimino’s critical acclaimed Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter became the target for communist countries. The Soviet Union had singled it out as an insult to the Vietnamese specifically, and communism in general. Other socialist states joined the protest to support “the heroic people of Vietnam.” The selection committee rebuffed demands that the film be withdrawn, stating publicly “Independently of how we view the content and aesthetics of the film, we see it as challenging us to a debate – a debate an international festival like ours cannot afford to forego.” As such, socialist countries withdrew en masse from the festival, a factor that interesting hit the Kinderfilmfest (the Children’s Film Festival) the hardest, since much of work that year came from Eastern Europe. Bruised but not beaten, the festival continued, handing out awards with a large number (the Golden Bear, the Silver for actress and the Silver outstanding achievement) going to German films. Even before the Festival began, Donner had resigned, and former director of Locarno, Moritz de Hadeln, took over as the Executive Director, a position he would hold till 2001.