A New Section: "Cinema for People Six and up"
Children are the ideal viewers, Wolf Donner said about the launch of “Cinema for People Six and up” because they are “spontaneous, not weighed down”. The festival director had had a eureka moment when child reporters from SFB Children’s Radio asked him why the Berlinale was only for grown-ups. Considerably embarrassed, Donner replied, “Oh my, that’s a tough question.” For lack of a better answer, Donner promised the children, “I resolve to do what I can to set up a children’s programme for next year. So there!” And so the Kinderfilmfest was born. Donner kept his word and, in collaboration with the State Image Archive, put on “Cinema for People Six and up”. Not only was this new for the Berlinale, it was unique among the A-list festivals.
Film expert Barbara Krämer of the State Image Archive formulated the selection criteria: “We wanted the children to see special films, films that captured them, told stories they could relate to, and were technically well-made. Films with a pedagogical approach but badly realized from an artistic point of view were not included in the programme.”
Initial doubts about the attractiveness of a children’s film festival were impressively put to rest by 12,000 audience members in mostly sold-out screenings. Fierce discussions around the German-Czech co-production Krabat by Karel Zeman indicated the development the Kinderfilmfest would take: While concerned educators protested that children should not be shown such a cruel film, Barbara Krämer insisted that the children should not be underestimated. The Kinderfilmfest would go on to develop its profile in the context of this tug-of-war.