The quantity of cinemas in Würzburg differed in many respects in 1974, when the “Filminitiative Würzburg e.V.” was established almost forty years ago: at the time two major operators maintained over 10 local movie theaters. Among these, the “City” on Barbarossaplatz resembled the character of an art house. However, these owners, as well as their distributors, didn’t promote film releases with the appearance of directors. After all, the director’s roll in the film was of minor interest to the audience at this time.
In contrast, the aim of the “Filminitiative” was to bring the creative person behind the camera into the spotlight and reveal all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Thus, our goal was to give the audience an intimate and more in-depth view of the international movie industry. The multilingualism of our university town provided us with the opportunity to obtain productions from overseas, which then were unknown to distributors. Above all, we were eager to create an opportunity for movie fans to meet the makers and engage in discussions with them. An attention of this kind toward the audience constituted a rarity in these times.
Over the years, the changes in the cinema industry, and in Würzburg in particular, impacted us greatly and our organization began to grow bigger than we ever had anticipated. For instance, quality demands in terms of projection, especially regarding sound, increased and moviegoers insisted upon greater convenience and geographical concentration of screening locations, a trend already displayed within the multiplexes.
Originally, we screened exclusively in the “City” on three days. We then moved to a bigger venue, the “Passage”, which was replaced by a bank within one year. Subsequently, we settled into “Corso”, where we gradually began to use each of its three theaters over a four-day period. Finally, we included the “Cinemaxx” into our schedule. Two exceptions aside, the “Filmwochenende” took place during the last weekend of January. With the dissolution of the “Corso”, the festival moved its date to fourteen days prior to Easter.
Today, the festival continues to span over a four-day period, while screening more than 60 features, documentaries, and shorts. In addition, it hosts around thirty guests and sells roughly 14,000 tickets. Amidst this delightful progress, the organizational structure of the “Filminitiative” has basically remained the same. The film festival continues to be solely organized by volunteers and is one of the last remaining non-profit festivals in Germany.