50 Years International Film Festival Würzburg


When the Filminitiative Würzburg e.V. and thus the International Film Weekend was founded in 1974, the cinema situation in Würzburg was still quite different in many respects: There were more than 10 cinemas in the hands of two major cinema operators, including one that resembled a repertory cinema very much, the City-Kino at Barbarossaplatz. What was lacking at the time, however, were the cinema owners and distributors who wanted to add lustre to the start of their films with special actions such as inviting directors. Directors only played a subordinate role for the normal cinema-goer.

The “Weekend of International Film” of the Filmintative Würzburg e.V., which was still called “Weekend of International Film” at the beginning, allowed for the first time a concentrated look into the hitherto unknown, international cinema scene. The university city offered the opportunity to take advantage of the multilingualism on location and to obtain films from abroad that had not yet found their way to distributors. In addition, film lovers had the opportunity to get to know the makers behind the productions and discuss their films with them. At that time, this attention to the audience was still a rarity.

But the change in the cinema landscape in general and in Würzburg in particular shook the film festival in many ways. On the one hand, there were the cinemas themselves, the growing demand for quality in projection, especially with regard to sound, the demand for more comfort, the concentration of the halls, as recently demonstrated in the multiplexes. Thus, the first three days were spent playing in the city cinema. It started in 1974 with just 12 films and 1,000 visitors. The interest in guests and the programme grew rapidly, and so the move from the small niche cinema to the larger Passage-Lichtspiele was soon on the agenda, which in 1977, however, after only one year, had to make way for a bank building. This is how the film festival arrived at its long established main venue, the Corso Kino Center, in 1978. At first, only one hall was screened there, later all three halls, for four days. Since the 1990s, other, changing venues have been added, such as the stage of the Theater Hobbit or the Bockshorn. One of these second venues was forced to become the only location in 2010: After the Corso Kino Center had also fallen victim to the wrecking ball, the Filminitative moved into a few rooms at Cinemaxx. This was also the time when the only change since the company’s foundation occurred: The usual January date had to be moved to the two weeks before Easter. In 2013, the film festival moved back to the last weekend in January and since then has successfully cooperated with the Central Programme Cinema, which has been called Central im Bürgerbräu since its move in 2016. There, the film initiative moved into two more venues, which it is converting into cinemas itself, namely the so-called “Kellerkino” at Bürgerbräu and the rotation hall of the VCC Vogel Convention Center.

While the technology and equipment has become more and more perfect, little has changed in the structure of the “Filmini”. It originated from a student impulse, but professionals have always been part of the fight. Of course, you are only a student for a short time, but the passion for film and festival organisation can last for many years. Since all of them are volunteers, you hardly notice the wear and tear of their commitment – new people join in from time to time. At least that’s our dream and our work basis. In fact, it would not be bad if more interested people would get in touch to offer their voluntary work. After all, for all three stages of work that belong to a festival, new enthusiasts with time and work energy are always needed: for the preparation in the run-up, i.e. from the summer on, for the festival preparation phase from about 6 weeks before and for the film weekend itself. If you are interested in this, you can contact our office (Barbara Englert) by e-mail at info@filmwochenende.de or personally during the event at the venues in Central im Bürgerbräu.