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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 1: 2010 - The Berlin Film Festival
Slide 2: 1951 - The Festival Starts
Slide 3: 1955 - Germany Steps Up
Slide 4: 1958 - The Festival Opens Up
Slide 5: 1961 - A Cultural Divide
Slide 6: 1965 - Different Programs
Slide 7: 1971 - Starting All Over Again
Slide 8: 1974 - Cold War Thaws
Slide 9: 1978 - A New Director, a New Date
Slide 10: 1979 - International Conflict
Slide 11: 1982 - Germany Divided
Slide 12: 1987 - The East Comes West
Slide 13: 1990 - A New Berlin
Slide 14: 1996 - The Festival at Full Tilt
Slide 15: 2000 - An Anniversary and new Home.
Slide 16: 2004 - A Different Type Of German Film
Slide 17: 2006 - An International Duty
Slide 5: 1961 - A Cultural Divide

Slide 5: 1961 - A Cultural Divide

Jayne Mansfield in Berlin.

In August 1961, just two months after the festival, the Berlin Wall was finished, making tangible the political divide between the two Germanys. A different kind of divide was slowly separating the festival. As critics embraced the French New Wave and Italian art cinema, establishment figures bristled at these cinematic upstarts. The year before, when Jean-Luc Godard won a Silver Bear for Breathless, an editorial in Stuttgarter Zeitung had complained of a “criminal wave, of the ‘steal when you can’ variety.” Others found the 1961 Golden Bear winner Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte too formal and nihilistic. And as Godard was deconstructing the cultural concepts of femininity in A Woman is a Woman­­­––which earned the Silver Bear in 1961––the tabloid press was having a field day exploiting female stars. The appearance of actresses, like Jayne Mansfield, earned the festival the nickname “Bosom Berlinale.”  At the same time, the festival’s director, Alfred Bauer, complained that the press has put too much “emphasis on the physical allure” of the female guests.