For a festival director there is nothing more marvelous than to be able to present unusual films. For the 54th Berlin International Film Festival, with the gracious support of Volkswagen, we created a special program of "Marshall Plan" films, or to be more precise, films produced with funds from the European Recovery Program (ERP) from 1948 to 1953. More than 200 of these works are to be found in the National Archives in Washington and others in European archives. Among the German archives endeavoring to preserve these treasures are the Bundesarchiv and the Deutsches Historisches Museum. A large collection is also in the possession of our esteemed colleague Heiner Rosz at the Kommunales Kino in Hamburg.
Thanks to Richard Peña of the New York Film Festival and his colleagues Claudia Bonn and Maria Laghi at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and with the support of new partners at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the George C. Marshall Foundation, these films can be presented to American audiences at last.
What is so special about these films? How were the films in this groundbreaking program initiated by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall funded and produced? What were the political and humanitarian strategies behind the program? And what stories did they tell to Germans who were either still blinded by the past or traumatized by the destruction they had caused? You will be able to find answers to these questions in this film retrospective, Selling Democracy.
We owe the idea for this program to Sandra Schulberg, founder of the Independent Feature Project and a producer of long standing who has presented many films at the Berlinale. She is the daughter of one of the Marshall Plan chiefs, the late Stuart Schulberg. While stationed in post-war Berlin, he produced the documentary Nuremberg (Nürnberg und seine Lehre), and one of the earliest Marshall Plan films, Me and Mr. Marshall, before moving to ERP headquarters in Paris. We also focus on the work of LotharWolff, Nils Nilson, and Albert Hemsing. All of them, as heads of the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section, were "selling democracy."
Finally, we salute George Marshall, who in 1953 received the Nobel Peace Prize for his vision vision of a kind still needed today. Welcome back, Mr. Marshall!
Dieter Kosslick, Director, Berlin International Film Festival