For many years, Manfred Salzgeber headed the Panorama of the Berlin International Film Festival and was influential in shaping the festival as a whole.
Salzbeger was born in Lodz in 1943 . He was a founding figure and role model of the modern gay movement in Germany. In 1969 he acted in Rosa von Praunheim’s film Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt (It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives). The film helped spark a new politicized gay movement and is still considered a gem of gay film. From then on, Manfred Salzgeber worked tirelessly to promote gay and lesbian film, helping to establish the very genre, on which he left his own indelible mark.
In 1969, he was a co-founder of the International Forum of New Cinema which was originally conceived as a counter-festival to the Berlinale, but which was integrated into it in 1971. Two years later Salzgeber transformed the Bali cinema in Berlin-Zehlendorf into Germany’s first repertory cinema. In the mid-1970s, when many intellectuals were arbitrarily targeted in anti-terrorist investigations, Salzgeber moved to Amsterdam. In 1979 he was persuaded by Berlinale director Moritz de Hadeln to return to Berlin. De Hadeln gave him the task of transforming the so-called “Info-Schau” part of the festival into a separate programme section. In 1986 the “Info-Schau” was renamed Panorama. The thematic course set by Manfred Salzgeber’s dedicated work still lives on in the Panorama programme today.
In 1985 Salzgeber founded the “edition manfred salzgeber” film distribution company, which was dedicated to a wide spectrum of films that were typically rejected by larger distributors. An important part of the distributor’s work was the cinematic depiction of AIDS. Salzgeber discovered many films and filmmakers in the gay and lesbian genre, which have since become independent film classics. The distribution company still operates from Berlin under the slightly altered name “Salzgeber & Co. Medien GmbH”.
Manfred Salzgeber died of AIDS on August 12, 1994.
In 2000, the Berlinale dedicated a film series and an extensive exhibition to Manfred Salzgeber.