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The European Journal of Communication Research

Ed. by Averbeck-Lietz, Stefanie / d'Haenens, Leen

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

Thomas Wiedemann / Tanja C. Krainhöfer
Published Online: 2019-06-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2019-2052


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.

Keywords: film festivals; Berlinale; program analysis; German film; diversity; gender


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-06-25

Citation Information: Communications, ISSN (Online) 1613-4087, ISSN (Print) 0341-2059, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2019-2052.

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