Conference 2018

The 4th edition of the Berlin Critics’ Week, organised by the German Film Critics’ Association, will take place during the Berlinale, from February 14 to 22. It will be opened by a conference on the public, which will inquire into the the ways in which notions of the audience condition the production and consumption of films. As a reference to early cinema, the event will take place in a circus tent.

Painting by numbers? On notions of the public and their effects on cinema

Wednesday, February 14, 6:30 pm, CABUWAZI tent Tempelhof, Columbiadamm 84 Imagine this: People are coming by the thousands to watch the best and most original films, ready to be challenged and excited. They debate films, read and write about them because they recognize themselves and others in these works. Their expectations are high and at the same time they are willing to open up to the Other that these films represent. This is not a utopian vision – it’s part of the reality of film audiences. But apparently they are not numerous enough to satisfy the funds on which most of Europe’s film production depends. By issuing their new guidelines, the German Federal Film Board (FFA) has revived one of the most important debates in recent film politics: which films can and should reach which public. The new guidelines revolve around audience numbers: only films expected to attract at least 250,000 spectators in theaters will henceforth be eligible for funding. This move has stirred up the German film industry. What’s new is the fact that this expectation is no longer discussed behind closed doors, but have become explicitly stated funding policy. This offers a good opportunity to take up the debate on how both the German film industry and international filmmakers and festival organizers think about the public. This is all the more pertinent as the Berlinale itself is often referred to as the festival “for the public”, underlining its box office results and audience numbers. What are the effects, positive and negative alike, of this focus on audience numbers as a criteria for the success of a a work of art? And what are means are available for rousing the public’s enthusiasm for cinema? This will be the topic of the first panel. On the second panel we will ask filmmakers, curators and critics how received notions of the public can be overcome. How do you communicate with the public, how can it be engaged and surprised? Which role does the collective experience of “going to the movies” play in this endeavor?


Doors Open at 5:30 pm

Beginning at 6:30 pm

I Welcome Greetings

II Discussion with

  • Christian Bräuer, managing director of the Berlin arthouse cinema chain Yorck Kinos and co-author of the new FFA guidelines
  • Anna de Paoli, film producer (“Der Samurai”, “Dr. Ketel”) and lecturer for “Producing” at Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin)
  • Maria Köpf, managing director of the Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein film fund and former producer
  • Stephan Wagner, director (“Die Akte General”, “Der Stich des Skorpion”) and chairman of the Association of German Film Directors

-In German, translated into English-

Approx. 8 pm


Notions of the Public

IV Discussion with

  • Marie-Pierre Duhamel, curator and translator, formerly head of the festival Cinéma du réel in Paris and member of the selection committees in Venice and Locarno
  • Kleber Mendonça Filho, director of “Aquarius” (Cannes) and “Neighbouring Sounds” (Rotterdam) and former film critic
  • Chris Fujiwara, critic and academic, former director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, currently working on a research project about the audiences of arthouse theaters and film festivals
  • Rebecca Zlotowski, director of “Planetarium” (Berlin Critics’ Week 2017, Venice), “Grand Central” and “Belle Epine” (both Cannes)

Members of the press intending to cover the event are asked to kindly register their interest by contacting From digital space into the analogue world: after the conference we kindly invite everybody active on twitter to meet up and have a drink. Meet your favorite Twitter peers or discover new ones! Nominate everybody you’d like to meet until the 14th through your Tweets, through Hashtag #wdk18. Meeting place: Cabuwazi! The first and second panels are now available on YouTube.



[Bildquelle: HAZ-Hauschild-Archiv, Historisches Museum Hannover]