The Nuclear Age casts its shadow
Films by the Georgian directors Aghasi Ayvazyan and Sergei Parajanov ran in the Forum, while the Panorama focused primarily on documentaries seeking out the “truth” of “really existing socialism”. Rolan Sergeyenko’s documentary Kolokol Chernobylya had been eagerly awaited but arrived at the festival late and was shown in a sold-out special screening. The reactor meltdown in Chernobyl had been one of the most dramatic events of the decade, giving the discussion about the nuclear threat a new quality and urgency.
While there was still a conflict in Sergeyenko’s film between the unambiguous images and the conciliating commentary, Peter Watkin’s The Journey was an attempt to give words to the uneasiness and fear. His film journey lasts over fourteen hours, spanning five continents, twelve countries and eight languages, and produces no less than a description of the condition of the world in an age of global nuclear threat. “Watkins not only conducts an information-overloaded global dialogue on the insanity of the real prospect of war, but also shows that he considers the creation of the film itself as a journey of agitation, as a tool for debate”, Michael Kötz wrote in the Deutsches Allgemeines Sonntagsblatt. The measure for Watkin’s future work would also be the real – and the real was increasingly total.
In the future, "films that take the art of film in a new direction" were to be awarded with a special prize at the Berlinale every year. Léos Carax’ Mauvais Sang | Bad Blood was the first to receive this distinction. In October of 1986, long-time festival director Alfred Bauer had died and the new prize was named after him – the man who had helped the Berlinale onto its feet and established it as one of the world's most important film festivals.