The International Forum of New Cinema is an independent section of the International Berlin Film Festival. It is considered worldwide as one of the most prestigious showcases for independent, experimental and alternative films. The Forum is organized as part of the International Berlin Film Festival by the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek" (Friends of the German Film Archive") under their own responsability.
The Forum was born in 1971 as consequence of a crisis which the Berlin Film Festival encountered in 1970. It became necessary to create a new institution which would serveas a platform for new film genres, as laboratory for new film forms and as a home for independent cinema. This task was given to the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek".
Since then the Forum - with its own goals and profile - has become an important and inseparable part of the Berlin Film Festival, and it has won a high international reputation
Goals: The Forum is especially devoted to films with experimental aesthetics which develop new styles, reflect contemporary issues or find new horizons. No genres, styles or formats of cinema are excluded. We are looking for films which stimulate, provide new experiences and create discussions.
With `young' cinema we do not necessarily mean films by young directors (even though they are an important part of the program), but new, unusual, innovative films. To avoid misunderstandings we therefore call the Forum in English International Forum of New Cinema".
Profile: As a principle, the filmmakers of the Forum discuss their films with the audience in the cinema after the screening. For all films, detailed information material is provided, and after the festival the Forum tries to help towards the distribution of the films. The films should not disappear after the festival, but should continue to be accessible.
For this purpose, the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek offer their assistance. Since 1971 they have created a large collection of Forum films which are shown - according to the terms of contracts concluded with the filmmakers or rights owners - in non-commercial cinemas, Goethe Institutes, film archives, cultural centres and at other festivals.
Selection: in the process of selecting films for the Forum those films are preferred which have not yet been shown at other festivals before. Documentaries are accepted as well as feature films or other film genres. Films should have a minimal length of 60 minutes, and must not have been shown in German cinemas or on German television before. Films will be selected by a selection committee in Berlin and in various countries.
Cinemas: The films of the Forum are shown at five cinemas in Berlin: the Delphi Cinema (850 seats) where the post-screening discusssions are especially popular; the Zoo-Palast cinema 7 (370 seats) which is mainly reserved for the press; the Arsenal (175 seats) and the Akademie der Knste (540 seats). Part of the Forum program is also shown at the Babylon/Zeughaus (200 seats) in Berlin-Mitte. Each cinema has its own, specific circle of spectators. In the Delphi, the Forum screens its main program, which consists of four films per day, plus a special program which is thematically structured and is shown at late mornings, and the films of the daily Midnight Secion. The films of the main program are repeated in the other cinemas. Films made in video format are shown by video projection at the Arsenal cinema; films selected by the Forum for the section `New German Cinema' (which is organized jointly with the Competetion) are shown at the Akademie der Knste - and for accredited guests in another cinema.
Information: Information on Forum films can be found in an Information brochure (printed in small format and large circulation) and a detailed catalogue in A 4 format, where each film is presented on one or more pages. Brochure and catalogue are bi-lingal (German/English). Furthermore, the Forum publishes its program also on the Internet (htpp://www.fdk-berlin.de)-
The International Forum of New Cinema is still the most important sidebar section of the Berlin film festival; over the years, it has become, for the more curious among the film lovers, its main section." (Peter W. Jansen)
The Forum is still one of the most important international platforms for independent film productions which do not (or not primarily) consider themselves as mass products or box office hits. The Forum is indispensible for seeing the multitude of filmic expressions." (Robert Richter)
Film lovers who want to discover innovative films during these ten days of filmic marathon find their right address - like every year - at the International Forum of New Cinema." (Josef Lederle)
The International Forum of New Cinema fullfills those tasks which alone justify the rapidly growing amount of film festivals and public funding: to present that sort of filmic art, which - for different reasons - has no chance in the commercial world of cinema, and which, if seen on TV - if it finds the way to be shown there - is seen only with a reduced effect." (Thomas Rothschild)
Highlights of past Forum Programs
The programs of the Forum in the 70s and 80s reflect the development of international cinema in the domain of independent productions. Various directors who showed their first films at the Forum later became quite popular.
This goes for Raoul Ruiz, Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, who were regular guests of the Forum; also for the directors of the early Swiss cinema (Tanner, Soutter) as well as for Ren, Allio and the brothers Taviani. Jean-Luc Godard was often here, and so was Jean Eustache with his masterpiece LA MAMAN ET LA PUTAIN; Jacques Rivette presented his four-and-a-half hour film OUT ONE SPECTRE in 1973 as a world premiere. The Forum has specialized in showing these unusual and rare films, sometimes difficult to access.
The Forum has always felt a particular obligation towards history, and has therefore frequently shown films about the German past, the Nazi era and the holocaust; but it has also shown films about dictatorships in other countries (like under Stalinism). Most important example in the history of the Forum concerning these topics was Claude Lanzmans SHOAH, but also LODZ GHETTO (Alan Adelson), PARTISANS OF VILNA (Josh Waletzky and Aviva Kempner), Marcel Ophuls' HOTEL TERMINUS and Erwin Leiser's EVERYBODY WAS A PIMPF should be mentioned.
Generally the forum has preferred films of unusual length, like TAIGA by Ulrike Ottinger, which runs for 8 hours and 21 minutes, or Bela Tarr's SATANTANGO - 7 hours and 16 minutes.
Among the German directors whose films were shown at the Forum are Rudolf Thome, Ulrike Ottinger, Jutta Brückner, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Rosa von Praunheim, Werner Schroeter, Wim Wenders, and documentary filmmakers like Rolf Schübel, Klaus Wildenhahn, Helga Reidemeister, Barbara and Winfried Junge and Volker Koepp. And in 1978 two woman directors showed their first feature films at the Forum: Margarete von Trotta und Helke Sander.
Geography of films: In the 70s and the 80s the Forum had mainly shown films from Europe, Eastern Block countries as well as Latinamerica and international avantgarde films; those were followed in the late 80s and 90s by the discovery of the independent cinema of Asia, from countries like Taiwan, Japan, Hongkong, Korea, India (the forum organized two special Indian panorama programs), Singapore, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia.
The list of filmmakers who became well known via the Forum, whose films were special events in Berlin, is - apart from the names mentioned already - too long to be mentioned in full, so here is a short version.
Germany: Helke Misselwitz, Fred Kelemen, Erwin Leiser, Ula Stöckl, Wim Wenders, Gordian Maugg, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, R.W. Fassbinder, Romuald Karmakar, Herbert Achternbusch, Werner Schroeter, Andres Veiel.
East and Middle Europe: Krzyzstof Kieslowski, Gabor Body, Istvan Szabo, Wassilij Schukschin, Gleb Panfilow, Andrej Tarkowskij, Otar Iosseliani, Sergej Paradshanow, Alexander Sokurow, Sergej Bodrow, Lucian Pintilie, Bachtiar Chudonasarow, Konstantin Lopushanski.
Western Europe: Jacques Rivette, Chantal Akerman, Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, Olivier Assayas, Derek Jarman, Léos Carax, Jean Rouch, Robert Kramer, Manoel de Oliveira, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Raymond Depardon, Claire Denis, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Gianni Amelio, Claude Lanzmann, Marcel Ophuls, Richard Dindo, Clemens Klopfenstein, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sergio Citti, Pappi Corsicato.
Latin America: Jorge Sanjinez, Carlos Diegues, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Eliseo Subiela, Fernando Solanas.
Africa: Ousmane Sembène, Safi Faye, Djibril Diop Mambety, Souleymane Cissé, Gaston Kaboré.
Asia: Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, Stan Lai, King Hu, Wong Kar Wai, Chen Kaige, Shinsuke Ogawa, Ning Ying, Allen Fong, Shuji Tarayama, Nagisa Oshima, Sogo Ishii, Kohei Oguri, Kazuo Hara.
USA/Canada: Jim Jarmusch, Atom Egoyan, Tom DiCillo, Todd Solontz, Yvonne Rainer, Frederick Wiseman, Don Alan Pennebaker, Jon Jost, Michael Snow.
Australia: Jane Campion, Arthur and Corinne Cantrill.
The following prizes are given to films of the International Forum of New Cinema:
Wolfgang Staudte Prize (DM 20.000), Caligari Film Prize (DM 5000), Prize of the Readers of the Berliner Zeitung (DM 5000), FIPRESCI Prize of the International Filmcritics organisation, Netpac Award (Netpac= Network for the Promotion of Asian Films), Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, CICAE Prize (DM 5000), Peace Prize (DM 10.000)
Presence of the Forum programme at other festivals:
The Forum has been invited by many institutions, film archives and festivals to show selections from its past or present programmes. Homages to the Forum and/or retrospectives have been shown at the following places:
Cinémathèque Française, Paris; Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels; Filmoteca Española, Madrid; Filmoteca de Catalunya, Barcelona; Film Museum, Moscow (Retrospective in 1995 with 70 films and 40 programmes); Filmpodium Zurich; International Filmfestival Singapore; European Filmfestival, Athens; Short film Festival Grimstadt/Norway; Hungarian Film Institute, Budapest; Filmoteca Mexico, Mexico City, and others. In 1997 and 1998, Forum films are planned for screenings in Tblissi/Georgia, Rio de Janeiro, Milan and New York (at Anthology Film Archives).