Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 4, 2020

The Berlin International Film Festival: A powerful springboard and gatekeeping mechanism for domestic filmmaking

  • Thomas Wiedemann EMAIL logo and Tanja C. Krainhöfer
From the journal Communications


Film festivals have become key agents in the movie business, with major competitive festivals enjoying outstanding importance. Based on this assumption, this paper focuses on the example of Germany and asks to what extent the Berlin International Film Festival offers a venue for domestic films, and which types of filmmakers, in particular, benefit from this springboard and gatekeeping mechanism. More precisely, given the diverging interests confronting the Berlinale as a platform for the film community, a quantitative program analysis was conducted of the festival’s most significant sections (Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Perspective German Cinema, Lola@Berlinale) from 1980 to 2016. The findings demonstrate that even good-faith efforts to strengthen domestic filmmaking in regard to weight and diversity have hardly changed the power structures that underlie the curatorial decision-making process. Respectively, the share of national film productions has been stagnating for many years. Moreover, female and young filmmakers are still broadly underrepresented.


Aas, N. K. (1997). Flickering shadow: Quantifying the European film festival phenomenon. Strasbourg: European Audiovisual Observatory.Search in Google Scholar

Archibald, D., & Miller, M. (2011). The film festival dossier: Introduction. Screen, 52(2), 249–252.10.1093/screen/hjr013Search in Google Scholar

Aylett, H. (2016). Where are all the women directors? European Women’s Audiovisual Network. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Barraclough, L. (2016, February 19). Berlin film festival chief Dieter Kosslick on diversity, refugees. Variety. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from–1201710482/.Search in Google Scholar

Bennett, J., & Brown, T. (Eds.) (2008). Film and television after DVD. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780203894293Search in Google Scholar

Berlinale (2018). Facts and figures of the Berlinale 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Berlinale (n.d.). 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511812507Search in Google Scholar

Bundesverband Regie (2015). Zweiter Regie-Diversitätsbericht des BVR 2014 [Second diversity report on direction published by the German Federation of Directors]. Berlin: Bundesverband Regie. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from in Google Scholar

Caldwell, J. T. (2008). Production culture: Industrial reflexivity and critical practice in film and television. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Caldwell, R. (2007). Agency and change: Re-evaluating Foucault’s legacy. Organization, 14(6), 769–691.10.1177/1350508407082262Search in Google Scholar

Chan, F. (2011). The international film festival and the making of national cinema. Screen, 52(2), 253–260.10.1093/screen/hjr012Search in Google Scholar

Cooke, P. (2012). Contemporary German cinema. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Czach, L. (2004). Film festivals, programming, and the building of a national cinema. The Moving Image, 4(1), 76–88.10.1353/mov.2004.0004Search in Google Scholar

Denzin, N. K. (1995). The cinematic society: The voyeur’s gaze. London: Sage.Search in Google Scholar

De Valck, M. (2007). Film festivals: From European geopolitics to global cinephilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.10.1017/9789048506729Search in Google Scholar

De Valck, M. (2014). Supporting art cinema at a time of commercialization: Principles and practices, the case of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Poetics, 42, 40–59.10.1016/j.poetic.2013.11.004Search in Google Scholar

De Valck, M. (2016). Introduction: What is a film festival? In M. De Valck, B. Kredell & S. Loist (Eds.), Film festivals: History, theory, method, practice (pp. 1–11). London: Routledge.10.4324/9781315637167Search in Google Scholar

De Vany, A. (2004). Hollywood economies: How extreme uncertainty shapes the film industry. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Elsaesser, T. (2005). European cinema: Face to face with Hollywood. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.10.5117/9789053566022Search in Google Scholar

Epstein, E. J. (2005). The big picture: The new logic of money and power in Hollywood. New York: Random House.Search in Google Scholar

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977. Ed. by C. Gordon. New York: Harvester Press.Search in Google Scholar

Freeman, R. E. (2010). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139192675Search in Google Scholar

German Federal Film Board (2017). Gender and film. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

German Federal Film Board (2018). Zahlen aus der Filmwirtschaft [Figures from the movie industry]. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Getz, D., Andersson, T., & Carlsen, J. (2010). Festival management studies. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 1(1), 29–59.10.1108/17852951011029298Search in Google Scholar

Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity.Search in Google Scholar

Hesmondhalgh, D., & Baker, S. (2015). Sex, gender and work segregation in the cultural industries. Sociological Review, 63(S1), 23–36.10.1111/1467-954X.12238Search in Google Scholar

Iordanova, D. (2015). The film festival as an industry node. Media Industries Journal, 1(3), 7–11.10.3998/mij.15031809.0001.302Search in Google Scholar

Kellner, D. (1993). Popular culture and the construction of postmodern identities. In S. Lash & J. Friedman (Eds.), Modernity and identity (pp. 141–177). Cambridge: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Klinger, B. (2006). Beyond the big screen: Cinema, new technologies, and the home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Search in Google Scholar

Krainhöfer, T. C., & Schreiber, K. (2016). Women show their faces – men, their films. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Lukes, S. (2005). Power: A radical view. London: Macmillan.10.1007/978-0-230-80257-5_2Search in Google Scholar

Marquardt, A. (Ed.) (1990). Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 1951–1990 [International film festivals Berlin 1951–1990]. Berlin: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin.Search in Google Scholar

McDonald, P., & Wasko, J. (Eds.). (2007). The contemporary Hollywood film industry. Boston, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2009). Cosmopolitan communications: Cultural diversity in a globalized world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511804557Search in Google Scholar

Prommer, E., & Loist, S. (2015). Wer dreht deutsche Kinofilme? [Who shoots German movies?] Rostock: Institut für Medienforschung der Universität Rostock. Retrieved February 11, 2019 from in Google Scholar

Reid, S. (2011). Event stakeholder management: Developing sustainable rural event practices. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 2(1), 20–36.10.1108/17582951111116597Search in Google Scholar

Rhyne, R. (2009). Film festival circuits and stakeholders. In I. Iordanova & R. Rhyne (Eds.), Film festival yearbook I: The festival circuit (pp. 9–39). St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies.Search in Google Scholar

Strandgaard Pedersen, J., & Mazza, C. (2011). International film festivals: For the benefit of whom? Journal of Current Cultural Research, 3(2), 139–165.10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113139Search in Google Scholar

Sutherland, J.-A., & Feltey, K. (Eds.). (2013). Cinematic sociology: Social life in film. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Search in Google Scholar

Udden, J. (2016). Film festivals. Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 10(1), 14–17.10.1080/17508061.2016.1139801Search in Google Scholar

Wiedemann, T. (2018). Die Logik des Filmemachens [The logics of film making]. Cologne: Halem.Search in Google Scholar

Wong, C. H.-Y. (2011). Film festivals: Culture, people, and power on the global screen. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.10.36019/9780813551104Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2020-11-04
Published in Print: 2020-11-26

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 6.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button