Study by Tanja C. Krainhöfer, Dr. Thomas Wiedemann and Konrad Schreiber follows the study “Women show their faces, Men their films“ on the representation of works by female filmmakers in German film festival programming / Further article in the gender research at the HFF department of Media Science / Institute for Communication Studies and Media Research Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, likewise partnered in the study.
2nd February 2017: In cooperation with the department of Media Science at the Academy for TV and Film (HFF) Munich, as well as the Institute for Communication Studies and Media Research of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, media researcher and strategy consultant Tanja C. Krainhöfer together with her colleagues Dr. Thomas Wiedemann and Konrad Schreiber, developed a study to research the programme diversity of the Berlin International Film Festival entitled Stories and Films have (no) Boundaries, which is now published. It follows on from the study “Women show their faces, Men their films“, published in 2016. Both studies are part of the gender research conducted by the Dept. of Media Science at the HFF Munich.
HFF president Prof. Bettina Reitz: “Festivals are and remain a central film platform for students and the alumni of the German film academies, even in these times of digital change and dialogue. This is where the common visual experience, subsequent dialogue and, of course, the presence of the national as well as the international industry - who decide upon the later exploitation of the films - all come together. This is why it is only logical that we, as film academies, help to share and support such studies.”
Questions & Research Basis
In the current study, Krainhöfer, Schreiber and Wiedemann raise the questions: To what extent does the programming of the Berlinale from 1980 to 2016 reflect a balanced ratio of film makers in its programmed festival entries, with regard to their gender, their age and their place of origin or ancestry, or respectively, socialisation from the new and old federal states The research period of 37 years hereby spans the tenures of both festival directors Moritz de Hadeln and Dieter Kosslick. The study is motivated by the influence of an A-list festival such as the Berlinale, which extends far beyond the domestic market. Much more, the programme selection of a major film festival such as the Berlinale determines which films are seen, and eventually bought, by distributors from the all over the world, be it for theatrical exploitation, DVD or online release. Thereby an A-list festival not only curates its own programme, but, to a large extent, also affects the decisions of the entire film industry.
As data basis, according to previously-defined criteria, a sample of 10,024 film entries were recorded, focusing on the following aspects: festival edition, festival section, original name of the section, original title, translated title, first-named director and co-directors (if any), first-named country of origin and, co-production country or countries (if any), production year and running time. With regard to the Berlinale programming, the studied programme entries were restricted to the following sections: Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Perspektive Deutsches Kino und German Cinema incl. their respective predecessors. Included were likewise new features, such as those sections introduced by Dieter Kosslick, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, and LOLA@Berlinale (a pre-selection of nominees for the German Film Prize for the previous year), the series programmed since 2011. The section Berlinale Shorts, originating in 2007, a compilation of the short films featured in competition, Panorama, and the current section for the short film competition were, with their respective entries, included in the analysis of the competition section.
The findings of the study relating to gender balance are clear: While the share of film entries directed by men since the 1980s until present day, with approx. 150 international and an average of 50 national productions per festival edition remained largely consistent, female directors in the international programme needed over three decades to be represented at all, with 50 festival entries per year.
Still more noteworthy is the fact that, although a gradual but constant upward trend for the share of films by women can be verified (von 14.95 percent in 1980 to 28.69 percent in 2016), this share in the German programme has mostly been stagnating to less than 30 percent over the last 20 years.
Analysis of the ratio of all productions by men and women, divided by sections, moreover reveals that a clearly rising share of female directors can only be reported in the sections Children’s Film Festival/Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino.
Contrary to that, however, is the Panorama section which, for years, has stagnated at more or less 25 percent and, together with the national programme portion of the Forum, is experiencing a distinct downward trend. Gratifying to report is the comparison between the two ‘eras’ of festival directors:
Although films by women in the competition are significantly, statistically under-represented in both eras, under the directorship of Dieter Kosslick - and thus today - a significant increase of the female quota has emerged.
Ratio of East-West Background in the German Programme
Pursuant to the appeal to culture in the context of the reunification, and participation in actively shaping a pluralistic society, the distribution of origin among the directors of film works programmed by the Berlinale was examined. To this effect, a sample of 2,034 films was included in the study, 363 of which were by directors coming from the new federal states and 1,671 by directors from the old federal states.
The analysis covered three phases in the distribution of directors with an eastern background between 1980 and 2016. In efforts to promote rapprochements between the USA and the USSR, 1980 to 1990 saw a growing platform for the presentation of East-German films in the national part of the programme, supplemented by film works produced in the west by directors who, following infancy and youth in the GDR, had relocated to West Germany.
The second phase from 1991 to 2003 symbolises attempts to continue presenting East Bloc film makers in the programme. The diminishing number of new productions by directors with an East German background was initially offset by films from the pre-reunification era, until eventually only a few isolated examples were available.
By 2004, the share of directors of East-German origin had sunk to an all-time low (one single production) which, likewise in the years to follow, especially in the feature film sector of the programme and despite the growing presence of film makers with West German roots, was only marginally expanded. Only Andreas Dresen, first invited in 1991 with his graduate film So schnell geht es nach Istanbul (1990) and by 2015, invited fifteen times by various sections of the Berlinale (including three times in Competition), seems to be among the few post-reunification directors from East Germany to achieve attention and positive awareness among the programming heads.
Age Distribution in German Programming
Out of 2,671 German festival entries, 2,584 were by film makers whose year of birth could be determined and were thereby used in the study of age distribution in the Berlinale programming from 1980 to 2016. Included were the works of directors by from East as well as from West Germany. A comparison of the average age of film makers invited to the festival editions between 1980 to 2001 vs. those in the period between 2002 and 2016 - at 43.03 years to 43.75 - showed no major deviation. Looking at the Competition section on the other hand, the film makers of the first period, at 48.30 years of age, were significantly older than those in the second period (45.38 years)
The average directors’ age of 43.44 in the section German Cinema in the period from 2002 to 2016 (at an age span of 26 to 82), however, is considerably higher than that of the period from 1980 to 2001 (40.81 at an age span of 22 to 78 years). This result is most likely due to restructuring in the form of the series Lola@Berlinale and the corresponding entries by the respective directors, and can also be traced to the fusion of the ”jungen Wilden“ (Young Savages) in the section Perspektive Deutsches Kino. But even in the Perspektive, from 2002-2016,the age of the presented directors ranges from 22 to 54 (!), resulted in an average age of just 35.
A glance at the individual sections reveals the following: While from 1980 to 2001, a higher age structure could especially be noted in the Competition and Children’s Film Festival sections, over the last decade, it is primarily the German Cinema and Panorama sections that seem to have led to a higher average age over all sections. Although the respective value in 1980 amounted to an average age of 38.72, in 2016 this had risen to an average age of 46.54, according to the feature film programme.
Ratio of national to international Productions
Based on the five sections studied, an enormous increase of programme volume took place between 1980 and 2016: from 163 productions up to 340 productions (209 percent).
The share of national productions in the overall programme (all film lengths) during the period 1980-2001, is statistically significantly greater than during the period of 2002-2016. Limited to feature length films, the share of national productions at 28.60 and 28.64 percent, respectively, amounts to virtually the same result.
Despite the introduction of the Perspektive Deutsches Kino and an expansion of German programme entries with the Lola@Berlinale series, a quantitative equality of the national portion of the programme in both periods is offset by a decline of German entries in the Children’s Film Festival (Generation) and in the Panorama.
The share of German festival entries including the programming of special screenings and entries “out of competition” lies at an average of 4.73 percent between 1980 and 2001, and 3.67 percent between 2002 and 2016. Limited to the 24 entries of the original, regulated competition, the first period shows an average of 2.73 German entries (without GDR: 2.14), while the second period shows an average of 2.93 German entries.
The increase of German production output measured against the number of annual theatrical releases is not reflected by an increase of programmed German productions.
Diversity of international productions
The worldwide growth of production volume resulting from digitisation, as well as eased distribution conditions, has been leading to an increase of the countries of origin represented in the programme: from 1980 with 40 film countries, to 2016 with 66.
The principal countries (Top 25) in the Berlinale programme in the 10-year comparisons from 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2016 prove to have consistently flanked current world political affairs. Developments such as the rapprochement of the USA and the USSR, expansion of the EU and globalisation, with strong topical references are finding expression in the programme.
A desideratum in the image of Germany’s meanwhile multi-cultural society should, however, be noted.
Since the mid-20th century, audiovisual media content has ranked among the most significant means of defining our world view and thus decisively contributed to the construction of reality. This is why it is important in German film to encourage perspectives from the new as well as from the old federal states, to promote young and talented directors, as well as older prestigious directors, to primarily support women as well as men, and generally improve opportunities for access to the theatrical and TV market and, likewise, to film festivals.
That the Berlin International Film Festival should serve as a role model - especially in times when the “world of film production and film distribution are drastically and fundamentally taking on a new shape,” (Holighaus: 2016) - is hardly worth mentioning. This diversity report, with the aid of empirical results, seeks to illustrate the status quo of programmatic guidelines and thus play a part in implementing specific measures to ensure greater diversity in the Berlinale programme.