Moritz de Hadeln was the executive director of the Berlin International Film Festival, from 1980 to 2001.
Born in 1940 in Exeter, England, de Hadeln's European family background provided him with an excellent education in art. His grandfather was the art historian Detlev Freiherr von Hadeln. His father, after a distinguished military career in the British army, founded an art edition company in Florence (Italy), his mother, born in Bucharest (Romania), was a renowned sculptor and painter.
After attending schools in Italy, France and Switzerland, de Hadeln soon developed an early interest in photography and cinema. Moritz de Hadeln abandoned his university studies in chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne in Paris for an apprenticeship in an experimental film lab and film courses taught by Raimond Rouleau.
After freelancing as a photographer, de Hadeln was given the opportunity to direct his first documentary Le Pèlé (1963), produced by the Swiss company Teleproduction in Zurich. This was followed by several years of work with cinematographer Ernest Artaria. In 1966 de Hadeln directed his second film Ombres et Mirages and during this same period worked as an film editor in Zurich together with Yves Allegret and as assistant director at CCC Film Studios in Berlin.
In 1969 Moritz de Hadeln and his wife Erika founded the "Nyon International Documentary Film Festival" in Switzerland, which he directed until 1979.
From 1972 to 1977 de Hadeln headed the "Locarno International Film Festival", which under his watch, enjoyed a new era of international recognition.
In 1979 de Hadeln was invited to direct the Berlin International Film Festival. He established the Berlinale as one of the best organised festivals in the world. In the early 1980s, in spite of the ongoing "Cold War" situation in the divided city, he managed to bring East and the West together at the festival. A tireless world traveler, de Hadeln was one of the first to discover the newly emerging Chinese cinema.
As the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and German unity was restored de Hadeln was quick in seizing the opportunity to make the festival one of the most prestigious meeting places of the new German capital. He further developed the European Film Market and strengthened the ties with the international film industry. After years of detailed planning, in 2000 he successfully managed to move the event to the newly rebuilt Potsdamer Platz, while giving to the festival a new corporate identity.
In 1982 he also introduced the Honorary Golden Bear, a special lifetime achievement award presented during the festival. Past winners have included James Stewart, Alec Guiness, Gregory Peck, Billy Wilder, Sophia Loren, Alain Delon, Elia Kazan, Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak, Catherine Deneuve, Shirley MacLaine and Jeanne Moreau.
Moritz de Hadeln has been named a Commander in the Order of the Arts and Letters of the French Ministry of Culture (1986), Commander in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (1988) and Officer in the Order of Merits of the Federal Republic of Germany (2000). He has been awarded several medals, among which the "Cultura Hungarica" and the Silver Medal of the Slovak Republic. In November 2000, he was awarded the European Prize by the "European Film Forum" in Strasbourg as a "tribute to a great festival director". Moritz de Hadeln has been a member of the International Juries at the festivals of Oberhausen, Guadalajara, Montreal, Venice, Karlovy Vary and Chicago.
From 2002 to 2003 de Hadeln headed the Venice Film Festival.
Moritz de Hadeln has been member of the “Swiss Association of Film Directors” as well as President of the “International Association of Documentary Filmmakers” (A.I.D.). He is presently member of the “European Film Academy” (EFA).