Berlin International Film Festival 1970

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The Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) 1970 began on June 26th and ended on July 5th with the resignation of the jury two days before the planned closing date, July 7th. In addition to its President George Stevens from the USA, the jury of the festival consisted of Klaus Hebecker , Manfred Durniok , Alberto Lattuada , Dušan Makavejev , David Neves , Gunnar Oldin , Véra Volmane and Billie Whitelaw . At first, the audience found many of the films shown as mediocre to poor, and the opening film was even booed. Michael Verhoeven's anti-war film ok , which was shown on June 30, was perceived by Stevens in particular as anti-American and not in accordance with the festival rules. He was able to get the majority of the jury members to request a review of the eligibility of the entry and called for the film to be excluded. Makavejev in particular saw this as censorship and brought the scandal to the public. Since no agreement could be reached, the jury resigned on July 5th and did not award any prizes. The festival director Alfred Bauer also resigned as a result of the scandal, but then returned to his office. The cancellation of the Berlinale is seen as the reason for the subsequent reforms of the festival, which subsequently opened up more to artistic and independent film. For example, in 1971 the “ Forum ” festival section was set up to integrate young films into the festival.

The jury

The international jury of the Berlinale 1970 consisted of the following people:


Prehistory and the first few days

The selection committee of the Berlin International Film Festival in 1970 included the cinema operator Kurt Broschke , the producer Rudi Flatow , the journalists Ingeborg Keller , Hans Borgelt , Georg Ramseger and Gerhard Schoenberger , and the festival director Alfred Bauer as chairmen. They were appointed by the shareholders of the Berliner Festspiele and the leading organization of the film industry. On June 26, the jury met for the first time and adopted its rules of procedure.

The Berlin International Film Festival began on June 26, 1970 with a kick-off event in the House of World Cultures . The Belgian-French mystery film The great Monsieur Klann by Belgian Patrick Ledoux was shown as the opening film, but the audience received it negatively and booed it. The other films from the first few days also met with little enthusiasm overall. Thus while Dionysos 69 of Brian De Palma , Eden and then by Alain Robbe-Grillet and The Cry of Tinto Brass by the audience. Positive exceptions were Paul Williams' comedy Out of It and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's melodrama Why is Mr. R. running amok? , both of which were also received positively by the critics. After the first few days, Fassbinder's film was even considered a contender for the Golden Bear. The then 24-year-old film critic Hans-Ulrich Pönack rated five or six productions as worth seeing out of the 22 films in the competition, including Fassbinder's film, the socially critical Latin American dramas The Jackal of Nahueltoro and The Hunger Prophet .

Scandal about ok

On Tuesday, June 30th, Michael Verhoeven's film ok was shown at 3pm and 9pm in the Zoo Palast . The film, which was based on an authentic war crime committed by the Americans in the Vietnam War , aroused divided reactions from the audience. While the majority of the cinema audience applauded, there were occasional loud protests and some visitors left the cinema. The German jury member Manfred Durniok was among the latter. The direct reviews of the film in the press were mostly positive. Conservative and liberal newspapers alike highlighted his urgency and passion, as well as political provocation, while opinions diverged as to its aesthetic value. Hans-Ulrich Pönack gave the film a very poor artistic rating. However, the political issues were in the foreground in the following arguments.

The jury meeting on the following day, July 1st, caused a scandal. Before the meeting began, Manfred Durniok apologized to Chairman George Stevens for the fact that a film like ok for the Federal Republic of Germany could be shown in the competition. The jury's discussion about Verhoeven's film was controversial. Dušan Makavejev took him under protection and assessed him not as anti-American , but merely anti-militarist . This view found the support of the Brazilian jury member David Neves, but could not prevail. George Stevens temporarily transferred the chairmanship of the jury to Klaus Hebecker, who communicated the decision, which had been made with 6: 3 votes, in a letter: The German competition entry should be neutralized and submitted again to the selection committee, which should once again check whether the film complies with the festival regulations corresponded. The jury referred to the stipulation that the participating films should "contribute to understanding and friendship among peoples".

On July 2nd, jury member Dušan Makavejev wrote to the director of the Berlinale and accused the jury of "following the course of a censor". In his protest letter, Makavejev also referred to the rules of procedure that the jury had set itself. There it said: “The jury assesses the artistic value of a film, it does not check whether the films meet the requirements for admission to the competition. This task is the responsibility of the festival management and the selection committee. ”Makavejev also informed the director Verhoeven and his producer Rob Houwer about the dispute in the jury. As a result, the rumor arose that ok had been banned from the festival. However, such a decision was not at all within the competence of the jury. A meeting took place on the evening of July 2, at which a resolution was passed at midnight in which the attendees and journalists of the Berlinale protested against the behavior of the jury and against any censorship. The director and producer of the controversial film invited the following day to a press conference in the Cine-Center, at which they commented on the alleged exclusion of their contribution to the festival. At the same time, the jury denied an exclusion and referred to the confidentiality of its members. The festival director, Alfred Bauer, also held a press conference at which he underlined the sole responsibility of the selection committee for the selection of the film and stated that ok was still in the competition. However, this explanation came too late, so it seemed incredible and could not calm the situation. The dispute intensified when Verhoeven and Houwer announced in a notarized affidavit that they had been informed on July 2 by a jury member who wanted to remain anonymous that George Stevens had asked for OK to be expelled, or he step back. Stevens had asked for an immediate vote and was supported by the German jury members. In the opinion of the makers of the film, political reasons played a role in all of this.

The jury met again for a session that lasted until 11:40 p.m. on July 3rd. Then there was another press conference after the director of the Berliner Festspiele, Walther Schmieding , lifted the jury's obligation to maintain confidentiality. In it Dušan Makavejev, David Neves and Gunnar Oldin were able to describe their view of the events again. In a second press conference, which took place on July 4th at 12:45 a.m., Schmieding announced that he and Alfred Bauer would ask the Senate to release them from their duties. Before that, they would ask the jury to resign. Schmieding made this request for resignation public in a communication on the morning of July 4th. The jury then met for another meeting, which Schmieding and Bauer also attended. After a tough discussion, some of which was conducted personally, the jury called for an interview with Senator Werner Stein , who chaired the Festival Board of Trustees. This meeting took place on July 4th at 6:00 p.m. in the office of Alfred Bauer in the Europa-Center . As a result, the festival should be brought to an end, the jury should continue to officiate and observe the international statutes, and Schmieding and Bauer should remain in office until the board of trustees has decided on the resignation requests. These results were presented at a press conference at 23:00 by Hans Borgelt announced. The reactions of the festival watchers were negative. Both the Berlin Senate and the festival management under Bauer and Schmieding were heavily criticized. The assembled activists even decided to occupy the Zoo-Palast. The reactions continued into the wee hours of July 5th. The journalist Rudolph Ganz read a resolution in which he called on the jury and Alfred Bauer to resign and the producers and directors to withdraw their contributions, and asked Senator Stein to receive a delegation of protesters. He let those present vote on it. The resolution was passed by a large majority, although later criticism was that the votes against had not even been counted.

Resignation of the jury

Several films were withdrawn from the festival program on July 5th. These included all Brazilian and Chilean films as well as the German contribution How I Became a Nigger by Roland Gall , the Swedish contribution Eine Baltic Tragedy by Johan Bergenstråhle (based on the novel Die Ausgeßierter by Per Olov Enquist ), which the producer actually wanted to leave in the program , the Fassbinder film Why is Mr. R. running amok? as well as the two short films Rembrandt outlawed by Ernie Damen and The Baby in the Tree by Nouchka van Brakel . In the afternoon, the jury met for their last session at 3:00 p.m. They were so divided that further cooperation seemed impossible. At 6:00 p.m., the jury announced to the Senator that it would cease its activities. An hour later, Walther Schmieding announced a declaration by the Senator in the City-Filmpalast, according to which "with this decision by the jury the competition had come to an end". The information show and retrospective should, however, be ended as planned. Those present received the resignation of the jury with applause, while the decision not to show any more films in the competition met with criticism. On the morning of July 6th, Senator Stein modified the resolution to the effect that the films affected by the demolition should still be shown. As a result, the contributions were withdrawn entirely, except for the film Black Out by Jean-Louis Roy and the short film Rotocalco by Manfredo Manfredi , which were shown for information purposes . With the resignation of the jury, the awarding of the prizes it had given was also canceled.

The press named different people and groups as culprits for the scandal, such as the selection committee, the jury, in particular Makavejev, Stevens, Durniok and Hebecker, Walther Schmieding and Alfred Bauer. Some suspected unknown actors as masterminds behind the action. At a reception on Monday, July 6th, Manfred Durniok admitted that he had fanned the jury against ok . The vice-president of the jury, Klaus Hebecker, indicated in an article in the magazine Film-Telegramm that Véra Volmane had learned of plans in Paris that the 1970 Berlinale was to be blown up, which Hebecker believed had succeeded. The actual reasons and processes related to the conflict over ok could hardly be reconstructed and not finally clarified.

The second conflict

In addition to the conflict over ok , there was a second dispute during the 1970 Berlinale, which revolved around the nomination of the Spanish competition entry. Even after the festival began, the selection committee was still negotiating the release of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Carlos Saura , but had to announce on July 1st that this had failed due to objections from the Spanish authorities. The selection committee announced that the film had actually been accepted, while the commission approved the official Spanish contribution The Strange Case of Dr. Faust originally rejected by Gonzalo Suárez and he should only be shown in the competition on the basis of FIAPF rules . The working group of film journalists criticized this as “submitting the festival management to Spanish censorship”. Four days later, the head of the Spanish delegation and director of Uniespana , Fernando Blanco, announced that the nomination of the film by Suárez would give an unknown director the opportunity to show it to an international audience. He also stated that Saura's film had passed the Spanish film censorship in the meantime. According to the Spanish version, the distribution company Omnia Deutsche Film was authorized to show the film since June 25; not showing it was a purely commercial decision.

List of participating films

There were 22 competition films:

Prizes awarded

After the resignation of the jury on July 5, 1970 and the termination of the competition, there was no awarding of prizes in 1970 - for the only time in the history of the Berlinale.


  • Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000. ISBN 3-87584-905-1 .
  • Peter Cowie: The Berlinale - The Festival . Bertz + Fischer, Berlin 2010. ISBN 978-3-86505-202-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 167.
  2. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 165.
  3. ^ A b c Hans-Ulrich Pönack : Crash in the youth jury. In: Der Schrei , March 1970 ( online : February 15, 2017).
  4. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 166.
  5. Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, pp. 167-168.
  6. ^ A b Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 168.
  7. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 169.
  8. Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 170.
  9. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 171.
  10. ^ A b c Wolfgang Jacobsen: 50 Years of the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival . Nicolai, Berlin 2000, p. 172.