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The first Berlin film festival

Amid the tense backdrop of the Cold War in 1950, Oscar Martay, a film officer within the Information Service Branch of the American High Commissioner for Germany stationed in Berlin, envisioned the creation of a film festival in the city. This idea underwent scrutiny by a committee comprising members from the Senate of Berlin and representatives from the German film industry, eventually receiving approval on October 9, 1950. Through Martay's tireless advocacy and influence, the American military administration was convinced to provide support and loans for the inaugural years of the Berlin International Film Festival. On June 6, 1951, the debut festival kicked off with the screening of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" at the Titania-Palast in Steglitz. Dr. Alfred Bauer, a renowned film historian, was appointed as the festival's first director.

The inaugural awards ceremony in 1951 saw the selection of winners by a panel from West Germany. Five films received the prestigious Golden Bear, each recognized within specific categories and genres.


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