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Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale 2020

February 20, 2020 - March 1, 2020

Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, takes place every year in February and is one of the most important and most visited film festivals on the planet with some 400 films screened from all corners of the world.

Since its inaugural edition in 1951, the Berlinale has grown into one of the top three most famous and popular film festivals in Europe, together with the Venice International Film Festival (1932) in Italy and the Festival de Cannes (1946) in France.

Taking place every February in the German capital, the Berlin International Film Festival lasts about two weeks and shows some 400 films from all corners of the world, including European and international premieres. The films are shown in different locations across Berlin and cover any length, format and genre, such as international features, documentaries, youth films, alternative cinema and arthouse films. Every year, the Berlinale is visited by well over 200,000 film enthusiasts.

Berlinale, Germany
The CineStar at Potsdamer Platz. Photo by Brigitte Dummer

Berlinale 2020 awards

The highlight of this silver screen extravaganza is the presentation of internationally recognised film awards of which the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear are the two most coveted prizes. The awards are divided into different categories including best film, best actor and actress, best director and best film music.

Apart from the official awards, there are also a number of prizes given to films and documentaries called the prizes of the independent juries. The members of these juries are not selected by the Berlinale while the awards often have an idealistic theme. For example, the Berlinale’s Amnesty International Film Award goes to the best film or documentary about human rights, and likewise the Peace Film Prize goes to films that promote peace while delivering their message with a skilful aesthetic.

Berlin International Film Festival
A Golden and a Silver Bear Award shortly before completion. Photo by Pablo Ocqueteau

The Berlinale: more than a film festival

The Berlin International Film Festival is more than its title implies. It’s a veritable source of inspiration not only for the wider film-loving public but also for thousands of audiovisual professionals. Apart from its film screenings, the Berlinale also organises plenty of workshops, panel discussions and a European Film Market where more than 400 film companies and over 10,000 professionals from all over the world meet each other.

Other initiatives include the networking platform Berlinale Co-production Market; the World Cinema Fund (WCF) which supports film projects in countries with a less developed film infrastructure; and Berlinale Talents which put film stars and innovators into direct dialogue with the audience and hundreds of new and upcoming talents during panel discussions and workshops.

Berlinale, Germany
A projection room inside the Cinemaxx. Photo by Jan Windszus

Berlinale 2020 retrospective: King Vidor

The retrospective of this year’s Berlinale edition will be dedicated to King Vidor, an American film director, screenwriter and producer who played a key role towards the end of the silent era of film making, and into Hollywood’s Golden Age. With his oeuvre of over 50 films, Vidor (1894 – 1982) showed a desire of social engagement while exploring the potential of cinema’s language.

Occupying a central place in American cinema’s history, he made films across many genres and worked with some of film history’s most important stars including Bette Davies, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, John Gilbert, Lillian Gish, Joseph Cotton and Marion Davies. King Vidor’s breakthrough came with The Big Parade (1925) – considered to be the first critical film about the First World War – and was followed by many other successes such as The Crowd, Street Scene, The Champ, Our Daily Bread, Northwest Passage, The Wedding Night, An American Romance, Duel in the Sun, Japanese War Bride and War and Peace. Over 35 of his films from five decades will be included in the retrospective.

Berlin International Film Festival
Movie still from Northwest Passage. Photo: 1940 Turner Entertainment Co.

Honorary Golden Beer 2020

At this 70th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival, Dame Helen Mirren will be honoured with an Honorary Golden Bear award for the Oscar-winning actress’s lifetime achievement, as well as with special Homage screenings that include amongst others: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), The Queen (2006), and The Good Liar, (2019). The award ceremony will take place on Thursday 27 February at the Berlinale Palast.

Programme of the Berlin International Film Festival 2020

The full programme details of the 2020 Berlinale, including all locations and screening dates, will be available from 11 February onwards on the Berlinale’s website.

Short history of the Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlinale’s first ever edition took place in 1951 with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca as the festival’s opening film. Since then it’s grown to become one of Europe’s most popular film festivals.

Created at the onset of the Cold War, the Berlin International Film Festival was meant as a showcase of the free world in what was then still a divided city. Amongst the major film festivals, the Berlinale is still considered as the most political one and as an important platform where social issues are explored with a critical cinematic eye.

Berlin International Film Festival
Helen Mirren, photo by Giles Keyte

Over the years, many film directors were ‘discovered’ at the Berlinale and awarded a Golden Bear, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Ang Lee, Sidney Lumet, Asghar Fahradi and Costa-Gavras. More recent premieres at the Berlin International Film Festival that went on to become commercially very successful were Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, as well as the Hungarian film On Body and Soul which won the Golden Bear in 2017, and the Chilean drama Una Mujer Fantástica which would later win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Where does the Berlinale 2020 take place

The Berlinale Palast is the theatre for the films participating in the Competition, but the festival takes place at different locations all over Berlin. For a map of all the locations of the participating cinemas, click here.

Berlin International Film Festival 2020 dates

This year the Berlinale 2020 will be the festival’s 70th edition and will take place from 20 February to 1 March.

Berlinale 2020 ticket info

Tickets can be bought at the counter while advanced ticket sales start online on the Berlinale website from 17 February.

Berlinale, Germany
The Cinema Delphi Filmpalast, a traditional venue for Berlinale Forum films

Things to do in Berlin while there:

There is an unusual high number of things to do in Berlin and places to visit, while the city is also one of the best places in Europe for going out at night with plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs at famous nightlife spots such as Oranienstraße and the Kurfürstendam.

Other must-visit parts include Kreuzberg where you might feel the 1980s haven’t finished yet, while Germany’s capital is also home to great examples of Berlin Bauhaus, one of the 20th century’s most influential architectural and artistic movements.

Berlin hotels

To book one of the many hotels in Berlin, use our hotel comparison engine which searches and compares hundreds of sites to find you the best deal:

For further details on the Berlin International Film Festival 2020:

Browse the Berlinale’s website or Facebook page for the latest updates.

Cover photo by Richard Hübner showing the red carpet at the premiere venue for the Berlinale Competition. All photos courtesy of Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin.



February 20, 2020
March 1, 2020
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Berlinale Palast
Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1
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