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Panorama: Low-Budget Films at Berlinale

The Panorama section at the Berlinale is a place for sociological discussion and low-budget films

February 13th, 2015
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The purpose of Panorama is to take low-budget films out of their niche market and thrust them into the spotlight. The 36th Panorama programme is divided into three different categories. Its main programme includes 18 features films from around the world. A series of documentary films on social and current issues, in-depth reportage, as well as music documentaries and artist portraits make up the Panorama Dokumente. Furthermore, the Panorama Special section presents 14 independent productions and films from the US.

Initially, Panorama began in the 1970s, but only in the 1980s, when Manfred Salzgeber (innovator in the Berlin art house cinema scene and co-ordinator of the International Forum for New Cinema) begin to shape the content, the programme gained more recognition.  After Wieland Speck joined the team in the mid-80s, they named it Panorama. Since then, the programme that addresses societal struggles and new aesthetic approaches to uncomfortable topics has developed every year.

Wieland Speck is still the head of the section and, as he stated in an interview before Berlinale 2015, he would like to keep the Panorama section in the same spirit. This years films are also a representation of niche films from across the globe.

In the 36th Panorama, a large spectrum of social issues has been raised.  ‘Stories About Our Lives’, is based on the lives of young gays and lesbians in Kenya, examining their search for identity and their fears of living openly gay lives. A declaration of love in Berlin in the 1980s can be found in ‘B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin’, whilst ‘The Fire’ reports on 24 hours in the lives of a young couple in Buenos Aires - a portrait of an extremely tense, complex and insecure society.

Panorama is not only about screening films, but also about rewarding them. Various awards are presented by independent juries each year, including, among approximately 10 others, the Teddy-Award, the most important queer film award in the world.