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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 2: 1951 - The Festival Starts
The poster for the first Berlinale.
In post-war, divided Berlin, with many buildings still in ruins, American occupation forces pushed to help redeem the city’s pre-war cultural status. Oscar Martay, the Film Officer of the American military administration in Germany, gathered together a committee of interested parties to put into motion the Berlin Film Festival. After a year of planning the first festival began on June 6, 1951 with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca as the opening night film. In addition to importing culture and glamour, the festival served as a “showcase for the free world.” To emphasize this ideological function, the festival made a decision early on to categorically refuse any films from the Soviet Union or any other Communist country. While East German films couldn’t be shown, East Berliners could still attend the festival, since the city was still open. The festival’s chief prize, the Golden Bear, went to Four in a Jeep, a Swiss film set in Vienna, another war-torn city, in which representatives of the four powers agreement have to deal with an illegal border crossing.