50 Years International Film Festival Würzburg

About us

The history of the Filminitative Würzburg e.V. began in 1974 when a small group of film enthusiasts headed by the students, Meinhard Zumfeld and Norbert Westenrieder, set out to create a forum that connected the public with directors from around the globe. They were particularly interested in and supported by the University of Würzburg which has organized the film seminar, “Romania”, for more than fourty decades. This small group set out to provide a platform for foreign language cinema, in particular Cinéma Française; to introduce unknown young filmmakers; to lure world-famous filmmakers to Würzburg; and, lastly, to screen new films not yet available on the open market. The university town offered a chance to use multilingualism on a ground level and get films from abroad that had not yet found their way to distributors. Furthermore, this was an opportunity for film lovers to get to know filmmakers and discuss their films with them. This sort of interaction with the public at that time was still a pronounced rarity.

In the beginning, the so-called Weekend of the International Film of the Filminitiative Würzburg e.V., took place over a three day period with just 12 films and 1,000 visitors. The small festival was a success and it quickly had to move from the small arthouse cinema into the larger cinema, Lichtspiele. In 1978, the film festival moved its headquaters to the Corso Kino. Since the 1990s, other venues were added, such as Theater Hobbit or Bockshorn. When Corso Kino fell victim to the wrecking ball in 2010, the festival moved into Cinemaxx. During this time, there was the only deviation since the beginning: The festival took place two weeks before Easter. In 2013, the film festival moved back to the last weekend in January and has been successfully cooperatimng with the arthouse theater, Central. In 2016, Central left the city center and moved the the historic Bürgerbräu grounds. With this move, our venues grew and we are honored to screen films in the so-called “Kellerkino” (Bürgerbräu) and in the VCC Vogel Convention Center.
In its early days, the festival succeeded in hosting Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders as well as other renowned guests like the Taviani brothers, Bernardo Bertolucci and Stephen Frears. The festival heads continue to think outside of the box by disregarding thematic boundaries. From a Hollywood-level French production to the South Korean horror shocker, the German no-budget family drama and the American independent blaxploitation film, all the way to the Armenian black-and-white love ballad – all genres have their place at our festival.

We source our films from submissions, visits to other film festivals, and internet research. Incidentally, one thing has not changed since 1974: Our festival is exclusively organized by volunteers. With around 10,000 visitors over a  four day period and about 60 films as well as a number of special events, it is one of the largest such events in Germany. Things have changed since the early days, but the nature of the festival has changed very little. Developed from a student impulse, volunteers have always fought to make it work. If you love movies and want to be a part of our festival, feel free to drop us a a line at  info@filmwochenende.de  or contact us personally during the festival in January.