Federal Association of German Film Authors

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Federal Association of German Film Authors V.
purpose Representation of interests of non-commercial German film authors
Chair: Marcus Siebler
Establishment date: 1927
Number of members: 3400
Seat : Dortmund
Website: www.bdfa.de

The Federal Association of German Film Authors e. V. (short: BDFA ) is an umbrella organization for non-commercial filmmakers in Germany. It unites around 3,400 members who either belong to one of around 180 film and video clubs or who are individual members of the BDFA . The BDFA is a member of the Union Internationale du Cinéma (UNICA) , which in turn is affiliated to the Conseil International du Cinéma et de la Télévision (CICT) of UNESCO .


From the beginning until 1933

With the emergence of film towards the end of the 19th century - as in many other countries - there were people in Germany who did not deal with the medium, which was still new at the time, as a professional or commercial interest, but instead pursued the design of films as a hobby . Around 1925 the first community of such film amateurs formed in Germany. It was their aim to support each other with their film projects and to exchange the results or to show them to each other. In order to provide a media platform for this purpose, the magazine Film für alle appeared from 1927 .

Finally, on June 4, 1927, the Association of Film Amateurs was founded, whose sphere of activity was initially limited almost exclusively to Berlin because most of the film amateurs of that time lived here. The first president was Joachim Graßmann , who at the same time also headed the Deutsche Kinotechnische Gesellschaft (DKG) . Film groups in other major German cities such as Frankfurt (Main) and Hamburg soon joined the Bund. The aim of the BDFA at that time was to advise its members and to exchange the films between the affiliated clubs or to show them to a public audience at joint events. At the same time, the BDFA began to organize film competitions.

The amateurs of those days needed not inconsiderable financial means for their hobby in order to purchase films and technology privately. Accordingly, amateur film was not a mass movement during this period. In 1930 the BDFA had around 200 members. As a result of the global economic crisis , the membership then temporarily fell to around 100 people.

1933 to 1945

Unlike other organizations, the BDFA was not dissolved after the Nazis came to power and continued to exist during the Nazi era . The main reason for this was the subject areas in which the BDFA films mostly moved. For many authors, it was primarily about private filming and other “non-political” content. Nevertheless, the new rulers considered how they could make the amateur film usable for their propaganda purposes. The aim was to detach the amateurs "from the sphere of private hobby" and to integrate them "into the front line of cultural creation".

As early as 1933, a reorientation of the BDFA began according to political and ideological aspects. This went hand in hand with the renaming of the association to the Federation of German Film Amateurs . At the same time, direct control of the BDFA by government or party agencies should be made possible. For this purpose, the BDFA regional associations were converted into "Gauverbände des BDFA", whose management gradually passed into the hands of the heads of the Gaufilm offices, the regional image offices or the district representatives of the Reich Film Chamber . The Gaufilmstelle, for their part, were subordinate party offices of the Reich Propaganda Management of the NSDAP , the Landesbildstelle were subordinate to the Reich Ministry for Science, Education and National Education and the Reichsfilmkammer was run by the Propaganda Ministry . From 1933 to 1945 Hanns Plaumann was managing director of the BDFA. The BDFA competitions were also increasingly geared towards the goals of the Nazis, which was made clear, for example, by the offer of special prizes by official bodies for films in the spirit of the Hitler regime.

With the overcoming of the economic crisis, the number of members in the BDFA rose again. In 1936 it had more than 1,000 members for the first time, and in 1937 there were 27 district associations. At the same time, the BDFA began to expand its competition system. In 1935, for example, the “German Amateur Film Festival” (DAFF) was held in Berlin for the first time.

With the interweaving of BDFA and party or state structures, there were also new offers to the members. For example, there was a reduction in the membership fee for members of the Hitler Youth . In addition, the BDFA was able to rely on the possibilities of the party and state agencies. Some of the costs for BDFA events were covered by these departments. Likewise, the Gaufilmstellen, for example, had a wide network of screening options for their own film programs, in which BDFA films were then shown.

In addition to training, technology and the possibility of showing films, the BDFA was also able to offer its members support in the implementation of film projects. Films that could not be made by a single amateur could be made jointly and with the help of offices and authorities. The BDFA also exerted an influence on the content of amateur film production and promoted particularly politically compliant film projects. In addition, he brokered state or public film contracts to individual amateurs or clubs in individual cases.

At the same time, film amateurs who were not members of the BDFA were hindered in practicing their hobbies. The public showing of private films was prohibited after 1933 without a permit. If an amateur wanted to show his film in front of a larger group of people or in public, he had to submit the film to the censorship. In the case of a one-off demonstration, he was able to apply for permission for the public demonstration from the local police authorities. If several screenings were planned, approval by the film inspection agency at the Propaganda Ministry was necessary. For this test, the author had to provide proof of Aryan descent, among other things. The BDFA's work and demonstration rooms, on the other hand, were recognized as research and educational establishments and as such were not subject to this inspection requirement.

Despite these privileges, the BDFA was not a mass organization in the Third Reich . According to estimates, there were almost 1,000 BDFA members in the mid-1930s, compared to around 15,000 active short film makers in Germany who were not organized in the BDFA. And in an article for the Film-Kurier on December 24, 1941, Hanns Plaumann complains that "as before, only some of the amateurs are united in the organization", "while the far greater part is filming 'wildly'."

When Austria was annexed in March 1938, the Club of Austrian Cinema Amateurs (KdKÖ), founded in Vienna in 1927, was incorporated into the BDFA as the WIEN working group of the BDFA.

With the outbreak of war , the working conditions for film amateurs and thus also for the BDFA became increasingly difficult. Shortages in the supply of film material and equipment quickly arose. Admission bans and reprisals made the work even more difficult. Although the number of BDFA members increased until 1941, the activities of the BDFA declined. The BDFA held public screenings and competitions until 1942, even if the last national amateur film festival took place in Berlin in 1941 during the Nazi era. From 1943 the German film amateurs hardly appeared as such. Instead recruited the propaganda companies of the Wehrmacht film reporters and cameramen Front for the newsreel from the ranks of BDFA members. Nevertheless, during the war, some film amateurs often made important historical film documents at personal risk. And some Wehrmacht officers also had their film cameras with them without an official commission.

1945 to 1990

In 1945 the BDFA was initially dissolved. After that, new structures emerged in the Soviet occupation zone and later in the GDR . With the support of the trade unions , amateur film studios have been set up in numerous companies and social organizations, in which interested parties can devote themselves to amateur film without having to purchase technology and film material themselves. Their activities were summarized in the National Amateur Film Center of the GDR .

In the Federal Republic of Germany the amateur film took an enormous numerical upswing since the 1950s. The amateur filmmaking was mainly characterized by the single amateur who financed the technology and films himself. Many of these amateurs formed film clubs. In 1949 the BDFA was re-established, which subsequently many of these clubs entered. The first German amateur film festival after the war was held in Braunschweig in 1950 . In the mid-1960s, the BDFA had over 170 clubs and over 5000 members.

The defining film format for the following decades was the 8 mm and 16 mm film . In the late 1970s and early 1980s, home video formats were added and almost completely replaced conventional cine films. Against this background, the BDFA renamed itself the Bund Deutscher Film- und Videoamateure , but kept its abbreviation.

In the course of the political turnaround in the GDR, the Association of Film and Video Amateurs of the GDR (BdFV / GDR) was founded there in 1990 , which was divided into regional associations in the Federal Republic, analogous to the BDFA. In March 1990, for example, the Video- und Filmverband Sachsen eV was one of the first clubs to be registered in Dresden under the new law . V. These regional associations were able to join the successor institutions of the GDR amateur film studios, which mostly emerged as associations. Due to the political and social uncertainties at that time, only a few amateur film communities in the GDR made use of it. Many of the amateur film structures that had existed in the GDR up to that point then disintegrated or were dismantled when the sponsoring companies and institutions were no longer available. In the course of reunification , the BdFV / GDR dissolved and its regional associations joined the BDFA.

1990 until today

Due to the further spread of video technology and the beginning of the digital age , a change has taken place in amateur film since the end of the 20th century, which made private recording of moving images a "mass phenomenon" and made individual film amateurs independent of complex and expensive technology . In addition, the Internet opened up new possibilities for the publication of non-commercial, and therefore private, films. For the BDFA, this made itself felt in an increasing decrease in the number of members, which continues to this day.

In recent years, the BDFA has increasingly shifted its focus to the organization of attractive competitions for ambitious amateurs with professional design requirements and is also opening up to film students and other filmmakers with a professional background but without a commercial focus. In the course of this development, the BDFA was given its current name Bundesverband Deutscher Film -auten ( Federal Association of German Film Authors) in the 2000s , with the abbreviation BDFA still being retained.


former members

The director and cameraman Richard Groschopp began his film career in 1929 as a film amateur and was a member of the BDFA in the 1930s and 1940s. After the war, in addition to his professional film work, he continued to work in amateur film and at times headed, among other things, the GDR's National Amateur Film Center.

Thomas Stellmach from Straubing, the 1997 animation short film Oscar winner , started his career at the BDFA. Andreas Dresen , director of Sommer vorm Balkon und Halbe Staircase , as well as Sven Taddicken , Pierre M. Krause , Miguel Alexandre ( Störtebeker , Die Frau vom Checkpoint Charlie ) also started in the amateur filmmaker's association . The actor Theo Lingen was also a member of the club.

Film magazine for everyone

Even before the founding of the BDFA, the magazine Film für alle was published by Wilhelm Knapp Verlag Halle (Saale) from 1927 , the first magazine in Germany to be published for amateur filmmakers. Initially it was fully entitled Film for Everyone - a monthly magazine for amateur cinematography . When the BDFA was founded, it took over the publication of the magazine. In 1936 Felix H. Eckardt acted as editor. In 1938 and in the following years, the BDFA managing director Hanns Plaumann was the publisher of the magazine, which is now called Film für Alle. Monthly magazine of the amateur film industry, organ of the Association of German Film Amateurs . Due to the war, the magazine had to be discontinued in mid-1944.

After the war, the magazine was revived in the GDR and appeared from the beginning of 1956, initially with six issues per year under the title Film für alle - magazine for amateur filmmaking . The publisher was now the National Amateur Film Center of the GDR, one of the chief editors at this time was Richard Groschopp. The magazine continued to be published by the same publisher, which was now called VEB Wilhelm Knapp Verlag Halle (Saale) and was renamed VEB Fotokinoverlag Halle in 1958 . In the middle of 1962, Film für alle was merged with the magazine Foto-Falter - monthly papers for friends of photography , published by the same publisher, and continued as a photo cinema magazine , which was discontinued in 1991.

The German amateur film magazine Film für alle must not be confused with a magazine with a similar title that was published in Vienna in 1936 with just one issue: Film für Alle - the in-house magazine of the Atlantis-Kino . This magazine was discontinued with the first issue.

Purpose of the association

The umbrella organization, which is recognized as a non-profit organization, pursues “exclusively non-profit purposes through the diverse promotion and maintenance of film and video in the fields of culture, art and international understanding” (excerpt from the statutes ).

The members deal with the medium of film and film design. They are in a lively exchange of ideas. Among other things, film evenings, technology evenings and other information events take place regularly within the framework of the association.


The association offers its members u. a. Public forums for showing and discussing your own films, assistance in terms of technology and design, opportunities to participate in competitions, opportunities to participate in seminars, workshops, conferences and GEMA coverage for showing your own films at association-owned events.

Youth work

The association attaches particular importance to promoting and supporting young authors, but also to attracting new members. That is why the BDFA has set up an annual youth film event, the Young Film Festival in Rostock, in which young authors up to the age of 27 could take part, even if they were not members of the BDFA. Some selected contributions from the program of this festival were shown to the public at the annual "German Film Festival" (DAFF).

Since 2018 the event has been taking place in St. Ingbert under the name of the Federal Festival of Young Film . With prizes worth 20,000 euros, it is one of the largest short film festivals in Germany and is aimed at filmmakers under the age of 29 who are invited to present their films to an audience in St. Ingbert. In 2019 the festival had 6,079 visitors. One of the highlights is the open-air cinema on St. Ingbert's market square. The guests included the director Andreas Dresen , the actor Marc Rissmann from the Game of Thrones series and Moritz Jahn from the Netflix series Dark .



As a rule, the BDFA competitions are based on a special competition structure; The individual productions qualify from the lowest level (club) through several levels (regions and / or state associations) to the federal level (federal film festivals differentiated according to categories); the latter will award gold, silver and bronze medals.

In addition, numerous "free competitions" and "special competitions" are held at club, state and federal level, for which often "free" can be reported and for which films can be submitted in some cases regardless of membership. The films shown at these festivals are usually discussed publicly by a jury, which then also votes publicly on the award of the prizes.

In addition, the association continuously informs its members about other national and international competitions through its magazine Film & Video and its permanent 16-page supplement BDFA-Report and also registers films and videos by BDFA authors there. For this purpose, the BDFA maintains its own International Competitions department .

German Film Festival

The German Film Festival is the cinematic and social highlight of every BDFA year. A limited number of outstanding productions (usually around 50) are invited to them by the federal film festivals and by special competitions. Of these works, in turn, the BDFA reports the productions suitable for an international audience for the UNICA World Film Festival, which also takes place once a year. More than 500 national and international guests travel each year to the DAFF, where the association's highest distinction is seven obelisks as BDFA film prizes.

UNICA World Film Festival

Every year the association participates in the UNICA World Film Festival with a selection of the best works by its members .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Dirk Alt: The amateur film movement in Germany until 1945. , accessed on July 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Hanns Plaumann: The amateur film is marching. In: Völkischer Beobachter v. November 2, 1936
  3. a b c d Little Encyclopedia Film. VEB Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig 1966
  4. Hanns Plaumann: German Amateurfilm 1941. In: Film-Kurier No. 302 of December 24, 1941
  5. ^ DEFA Foundation: Overview of film and cinematography in the GDR - Production - Amateurfilm , accessed on December 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Video- und Filmverband Sachsen eV: Brief history of the VFS , accessed on December 4, 2016
  7. Jury selects the best short film. In: www.blick-aktuell.de, accessed on September 20, 2016.
  8. 75 years of the Frankfurt am Main film and video club. In: www.kunst-und-kultur.de, accessed on September 20, 2016.
  9. Selina Carolin Summer: A great weekend for young cineastes: "It was overwhelming and touching". Retrieved June 10, 2019 .
  10. WimS: Interview with director Andreas Dresen (June 5, 2019). Retrieved June 10, 2019 .
  11. Selina Carolin Summer: Young film: "Ready for film" starts next week. Accessed on June 10, 2019 .

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