Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation

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German Film House of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Murnaustraße 6, Wiesbaden

The Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation is a large German film foundation based in Wiesbaden . It preserves a significant part of the national film heritage: more than 6,000 silent and sound films (fiction, documentaries, shorts and advertising films) from the 1890s to the 1960s. The foundation finances its work by evaluating these stocks. Among them is the "Reich's own film assets" confiscated by the Allied High Commission in 1945 - i. H. the German films in circulation up to the end of the Second World War and their exploitation rights. The highest body is a board of trusteesfrom representatives of the private film industry and the public sector, chairman is Christian Sommer. The foundation has been headed by Christiane von Wahlert since December 2019. She took over the position of board member from Ernst Szebedits .

In addition to maintaining and evaluating its holdings, the foundation is committed to film as a cultural asset in various ways. Every year it awards the Murnau Short Film Prize , cooperates among other things for exhibitions and festivals as well as in maintaining the cinematic heritage in digital media such as the development of the internet portal . Since 2009, it has offered renowned film institutions a common roof with the newly built Deutsches Filmhaus and operates its own cinema there with the Murnau Film Theater. In 2010, the extensive restoration of Metropolis and Die Nibelungen (both Fritz Lang ) attracted worldwide attention. The restored version of Metropolis was the first silent film to hit cinemas nationwide in May 2011, and in October 2011 it was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc. Other digital restorations of films such as Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari and Varieté followed.


The foundation, named after the important German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1888-1931), was set up in 1966 on the initiative of the Federal Government by the Central Organization of the Film Industry (SPIO) to prevent the sale of the former Reich's own film assets abroad. Previously, the American company Seven Arts Ltd. tries to acquire the rights to around 3,000 German feature and cultural films.

In addition to the DEFA Foundation, the foundation is a permanent guest in the German Kinemathekenverbund , founded in 1978 , which includes the German Film Archives , the German Film Institute (DIF) , the German Kinemathek - Museum for Film and Television and CineGraph - Hamburg Center for Film Research, the Film Museums in Munich , Düsseldorf , Frankfurt and Potsdam belong as members.

To promote young talent, the foundation awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Short Film Prize every year from 1994 to 2014 .


In 1966, the foundation took over the film materials (including the associated exploitation rights) of the German film production companies dissolved by the law on the liquidation and unbundling of the former Reich-owned film assets of June 5, 1953 , i.e. Universum Film AG , Ufa-Filmkunst GmbH , Terra , Tobis , Bavaria and Berlin-Film GmbH , including post-war production by Ufa-Filmkunst GmbH and Bavaria. These include film classics such as Metropolis , Die Nibelungen , Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari , The Blue Angel , The Three from the Gas Station , Münchhausen , Große Freiheit No. 7 and heroes from directors such as Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau , Fritz Lang , Ernst Lubitsch , Detlef Sierck , Helmut Käutner and Wolfgang Staudte .

The film stock thus includes around 2,000 silent films , 1,000 sound films and 3,000 short films from the entire period from 1895 to 1960. All genres - from feature films to documentary and cultural films to advertising and short films - are represented. The original film copies are stored in specially equipped depots in Wiesbaden and, under fiduciary care, also in the Federal Archive Filmarchiv Berlin and Koblenz. The foundation's holdings also include films that have been entrusted to the foundation by other rights holders (around 20,000 titles) and which, after consultation with the holders, are also accessible to the public. It also manages films on a trustee basis that are not currently being marketed by its distribution company.


The foundation archives, preserves, restores and reconstructs films, copies them to modern media and deals with e.g. B. also to the dubbing of silent films for which there is no more music. The foundation's own film archive is available to the general public, e.g. B. available for research purposes, whereby in addition to viewing copies, databases and materials such as scripts, dialogue lists, film posters, advertising materials, still images and general specialist literature can be used. In addition, legal documents are available that reflect the development of many films from their creation through to theatrical release.

The statutory tasks also include the promotion of cinematic and political educational work, which is realized in cooperation with numerous other institutions and organizers. The foundation exercises the exploitation rights for the films it has saved and combats unauthorized exploitation. This also applies to the so-called reserved films , i.e. H. those Nazi films that are considered unsuitable for general exploitation because of their strong propaganda character.

In addition to the daily work, especially the maintenance of the archive, advice, research and film rental, projects in the area of ​​restoration shape the work of the foundation. As a work-in-progress, the foundation has been digitizing its film holdings for years so that they are also available for public performances in the future.

Murnau film theater

The Deutsche Filmhaus, operated by the Murnau Foundation, opened in Wiesbaden in 2009 . In addition to the foundation, film cultural institutions, interest groups from the film industry and film and media companies are based there. The Murnau-Filmtheater is a cinema in Wiesbaden. The film theater, which opened in 2009, is run by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, which works with the German Film Institute on programming . During the day, the Murnau-Filmtheater is used by the Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK) based in the Deutsches Filmhaus for the age tests of cinema and video films. The program offers film classics and rarities from the holdings of the Murnau Foundation and other archives as well as the latest festival and arthouse cinema. Game days are Wednesday to Sunday. The Murnau-Filmtheater has been awarded the Hessian Cinema Prize several times for the program.


In the office and event complex, the Murnau-Filmtheater offers a public cinema theater, the multi-functional area is used for events and exhibitions. In addition to the cinema program, the Murnau Foundation is showing exhibitions such as “Treasures of German Film History” and “The Erotic 50s” in the Deutsches Filmhaus.


  • Friedemann Beyer (Ed.): So that the past has a future - The work of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation. (= Festschrift for the 40th anniversary). Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, Wiesbaden 2006, DNB 1005004900 .
  • Helmut Poßmann, Katja Thorwarth: Deutsches Filmhaus Wiesbaden. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, Wiesbaden 2009, DNB 1005005036 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Film inventory of the Murnau Foundation | Murnau Foundation. Retrieved May 11, 2020 .
  3. ^ "Metropolis" in the original version. In: March 6, 2009, accessed December 16, 2014 .
  4. Suggestive movie posters from the fifties - And sin beckons forever. In: September 25, 2011, accessed December 16, 2014 .