Signs of things to come
For contemporaries, the 1960 Berlinale was a weak festival, a “working conference”, short on glamour, and that in the anniversary year of all things. In hindsight, however, the first significant signs that a shift regarding content was occurring surfaced in 1960, though these were only partially intentional. More than all else, the inconsistencies of the programme and disunity amongst commentators reflected a gap in the international film industry between the cinema of the traditional studios, off of which the big festivals had lived up till now, and the independent and provocative films of the younger generation. The crisis was as much aesthetic as it was economic and political in nature. It wasn’t just about the question which films one wanted to make, but also about under which conditions one wanted to make films and that neither could be separated from the other.
Is this the future or the end?
Out of this crisis a new, independent cinema developed around the world during the 1960s: Nouvelle Vague, Free Cinema, Cinema Nuovo and, with the Oberhausen Manifesto, New German Film. A few years later it was said that “Daddy’s cinema is dead”. If that was the case, it had begun to die in 1960 and in fact several commentators feared the Berlinale itself had seen its last days or much worst. Because “Daddy’s cinema” was the cinema of the major studios, films with big stars for a broad audience, with which the big festivals had experienced their golden years. Even the witty Berlinale observer Karena Niehoff couldn’t pin down what was happening: Was it finally getting serious or was it the beginning of the end?