Upon the initiative of American Film Officer Oscar Martay, a committee meets for the first time on October 9,1950 to prepare for the founding of an international film festival in Berlin. Besides Martay and his British colleague George Turner, the committee includes two representatives of the Berlin Senate Administration, four representatives of the German film industry and a journalist. At this meeting the dates of the first festival (June 6-17, 1951; awards ceremony on June 18) and the name “Berlin International Film Festival” are agreed on.
The film historian Dr. Alfred Bauer is appointed festival director. In the 1940s he worked for the Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Film Office) and advised the British military government on film issues after the end of the war. In November 1950 he began to work for the International Film Festival.
On June 6, 1951 Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca opens the first Berlin International Film Festival (which had already been dubbed the “Berlinale”) in the Titania-Palast cinema. The star of the film, Joan Fontaine, is also the celebrated star guest of the festival. Six years after the end of the Second World War, large parts of Berlin still lie in ruins. Reconstruction has begun, but Berlin is still far from reviving the cultural energy of the 1920s. Under these conditions the film festival and its international guests fulfill the city’s yearning for attention and recognition. At the same time the festival is intended to make a political statement and serve as a “showcase of the free world” in the divided city.