Studio Babelsberg is celebrating its 100th anniversary in February 2012. The world’s oldest large-scale film studio complex was not only the birthplace of German film but also a major force in the development of cinema internationally. In honour of this event, the Berlinale 2012 is presenting a special series: “Happy Birthday, Studio Babelsberg”.
The first production made in Babelsberg was Urban Gad’s Der Totentanz (The Dance of the Dead) with, superstar of her day, Asta Nielsen in the lead. In the following years the new sound stages there became a popular place for German and international directors to shoot their films. In 1921, UFA took over and the studio complex experienced a boom. Starting in 1933, however, it increasingly became the production site of Nazi propaganda films. After the war, the studio premises were in the Soviet zone of occupation and as of 1949 belonged to the GDR. In 1946 DEFA was founded, and by 1990 it had produced some 1500 films for the screen and television in Babelsberg. After the fall of the Wall, the studios were privatized. In 2004, current President and CEO Carl Woebcken and Vice President Christoph Fisser acquired Studio Babelsberg.
The list of renown filmmakers who shot works at the studio is long and includes: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh, 1924), Fritz Lang (Die Nibelungen/Kriemhild’s Revenge, 1924; Metropolis, 1927), Wolfgang Staudte (Die Mörder sind unter uns/The Murderers Are Among Us, 1946), Alfred Hitchcock (Die Prinzessin und der Geiger/The Blackguard, 1924/25), Kurt Maetzig (Das Kaninchen bin ich/The Rabbit Is Me, 1965), Konrad Wolf (Goya, 1971), Volker Schlöndorff, Roman Polanski (The Pianist, 2002; The Ghost Writer, Berlinale 2010), Stephen Daldry (The Reader, 2008; Berlinale Competition 2009), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds, 2009) and Roland Emmerich (Anonymous, 2011).
“Studio Babelsberg has written film history and, both politically and film historically, experienced a turbulent 100 years. Today it still enjoys high regard at home and abroad as a production site. The Berlinale wants to congratulate the studio on its birthday and looks forward to many more Babelsberg films,” says Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.
In honour of the studio’s 100th anniversary, the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival has put together a review of Studio Babelsberg’s history: ten films, one from each decade, will be presented in the “Happy Birthday, Studio Babelsberg” special series.
The Film Festival is also awarding Studio Babelsberg a Berlinale Camera. Since 1986, the Berlin International Film Festival has presented the Berlinale Camera to film personalities or institutions to which it feels particularly indebted and wishes to express its thanks. Since 2004, Düsseldorf-based goldsmith Georg Hornemann has sponsored the Berlinale Camera. The trophy was redesigned for the Berlinale in 2008. Modelled on a real camera, it is now has 128 components. From swivel to tripod, it has been crafted and assembled with great artistry, and many of its silver and titanium parts are movable.
Festival director Dieter Kosslick will award this Berlinale Camera during the Studio Babelsberg ceremony in the Marlene Dietrich Halle on February 12, 2012.
The “Happy Birthday, Studio Babelsberg” special series includes the following films:
Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh, 1924)
Directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
With Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz, Hans Unterkircher
Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel, 1929/30)
Directed by Josef von Sternberg
With Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings, Hans Albers, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valetti
Münchhausen (The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, 1943)
Directed by Josef von Báky
With Hans Albers, Wilhelm Bendow, Michael Bohnen, Hans Brausewetter
Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers Are Among Us, 1946)
Directed by Wolfgang Staudte
With E. W. Borchert, Hildegard Knef, Erna Sellmer, Arno Paulsen
Das Kaninchen bin ich (The Rabbit Is Me, 1965)
Directed by Kurt Maetzig
With Angelika Waller, Alfred Müller, Ilse Voigt, Wolfgang Winkler
Directed by Konrad Wolf
With Donatas Banionis, Olivera Katarina, Fred Düren, Tatjana Lolowa, Rolf Hoppe, Mieczyslaw Voit, Ernst Busch
Das Haus am Fluss (The House on the River, 1985, Berlinale 1986)
Directed by Roland Gräf
With Katrin Saß, Manfred Gorr, Rolf Hoppe, Corinna Harfouch, Sylvester Groth
Sonnenallee (Sun Alley, 1999, Berlinale 2000)
Directed by Leander Haußmann
With Alexander Scheer, Alexander Beyer, Katharina Thalbach, Robert Stadlober, Detlev Buck, Henry Hübchen
The Pianist (2002)
Directed by Roman Polanski
With Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Maureen Lipman, Emilia Fox
The Reader (2008, Berlinale 2009)
Directed by Stephen Daldry
With Kate Winslet, David Kross, Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Hannah Herzsprung
Starting January 31, programme times and venues will be available at www.berlinale.de
After the Berlinale, the “Happy Birthday, Studio Babelsberg” special series will be presented again at the Filmmuseum Potsdam.