›Women, life, liberty‹ The German film schools stand with the peaceful protests in Iran

»We ask you to echo the rallying cries of Iranians for freedom. Become the voice of those people who are paying with their lives for freedom« Iranian filmmakers recently requested in an open letter.

The death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody and the increasing repressions because of the countrywide protests have shocked us and are a cause of great concern to us. As German film schools we have collectively committed ourselves to diversity and against discrimination. We have committed ourselves to questioning existing structures and stereotypes constructively and to address the issues of abuse of power and gender equality. Therefore, we also want to express our solidarity with the protesters with a united voice:

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Iran and especially at the Iranian universities. We condemn the violent repression of freedom of expression and the right to personal development. We see you, your courageous resistance, and the sacrifices you make. You are not alone.
We stand behind you and your commitment to “women, life, liberty“!

Serial Eyes celebrates its 10th year with a new Head of Studies and exciting developments

Serial Eyes, the DFFB’s postgraduate training programme for writers of television series, is celebrating its tenth year. With the achievement of this milestone, the DFFB has taken further steps to secure the programme’s successful future: a freshly appointed Head of Studies, a new industry partner, a new advisory board, and a new set of 12 participants starting the next term in September.

Serial Eyes is happy to announce its new Head of Studies, Katrin Merkel, who began the position on 1st July 2022. Katrin Merkel has many years of experience working in various departments of television. She has worked as writer and in script development for a variety of major production companies, as a script reader and dramaturge in the fiction department of the German private broadcaster RTL Television, as a freelance development producer for various TV series productions, and as a teacher for dramaturgy and serial storytelling/Writers’ Room. In 2021, she published the well-received book DER GERMAN ROOM – Der US-Writers’ Room in der deutschen Serienentwicklung together with her co-author Timo Gößler.

“I feel very honoured to be now part of Serial Eyes, Europe’s first and premier postgraduate education program in serial storytelling. Forming the next generation of European television writers is a real matter of the heart to me. Combining the professionalism and efficiency of the US American Writers’ Room system with our European traditions and market realities is a challenge. I am proud and can’t wait to contribute my knowledge and experience to the development of this process.” (Katrin Merkel)

This year, once again, Serial Eyes has attracted participants from all over the world. A total of twelve writers from Czech Republic, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, Hungary, Kenya, Israel, and Finland will develop new concepts for television series and learn to work collaboratively in the Writers’ Room. Under the guidance of a team of international lecturers from the industry – show runners, head writers, producers, and commissioning editors of European broadcasters – each participant will develop a television series that will be presented at the Final Pitch in front of a professional audience at the end of the programme in May 2023.

Furthermore, Serial Eyes has a strong new industry partner on board: VIS, the international studio division of Paramount and one of the world’s leading producers of premium entertainment content, has partnered with Serial Eyes to help foster the next generation of screenwriting talent. VIS now joins other top industry partners like Sky Deutschland, Atlantique Productions, Dynamic Television, Real Film, and Big Light Productions to support the series writers of the future.

To ensure the continued successful development of Serial Eyes into and beyond its tenth year, a board consisting of Jana Burbach (Serial Eyes Alumna 2014/15, Writer – Tribes of Europa, Breaking Even), Nathalie Perus (General Manager/Atlantique Productions), Frank Spotnitz (CEO/Big Light Productions, Writer and Producer – The X Files, The Man in the High Castle), and Klaus Zimmermann (Managing Director/Dynamic Television, Producer – Borgia, Drops of God) has been established. The board will provide institutional knowledge, assist in assuring the high-quality standards of Serial Eyes and work closely strategically with Katrin Merkel to foster the growth of the programme.

Filmmakers for Ukraine

Crew United has launched the central platform “Filmmakers for Ukraine” for all Ukrainians affected by the war. In particular, those seeking help from Ukraine can find out about current and verified offers of help from all over Europe. For people who want to get involved, the site also offers a good overview with numerous contact points.

In addition, there are offers specifically tailored to the film industry as well as a page curated by film journalists on important documentaries and feature films about Ukraine.

Together with industry partners, Crew United has thus created a valuable platform that provides structured information for all those seeking help and those who would like to get involved.

The DFFB thanks Crew United and its partners and joins them in spreading the word.


Solidarity with Ukraine

The German Film and Television Academy Berlin is shocked by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and is deeply dismayed by the events of the last few days. We strongly condemn this military action and are deeply concerned for the people of the country.

Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine in these difficult times, especially with our students with Ukrainian roots. They, their families and friends, deserve our full solidarity, support and assistance.

We hope that the people of Ukraine will be able to get to safety and that this war, which we did not believe possible until recently, will come to a quick end.

The Directorate of the DFFB

Three Nominations for DFFB Students at the FIRST STEPS Awards 2021

We are happy to announce three nominations for this year’s FIRST STEPS Awards.

Two DFFB production students are nominated for the NO FEAR Award: Tamara Erbe for the film BABY BITCHKA (director: Anna Maria Roznowska, screenwriter: Anna Maria Roznowska & Tamara Erbe, cinematographer: Malte Siepen, production: Tamara Erbe) and Sara Fazilat for NICO (director/screenwriter: Eline Gehring, cinematographer/screenwriter: Francy Fabritz, producer/screenwriter: Sara Fazilat).

In addition, Aart Steinmann is also nominated for his graduating screenplay NIEMCY– DIE FREMDEN.

Congratulations to all three students!

The FIRST STEPS award is the most important award for graduating films of film schools in German-speaking countries. With a total of €119,000 in prize money, it is the largest endowment of its kind for young filmmakers. There are nine prize categories and prizes are awarded annually to directors, producers, cinematographers, and screenwriters of short, medium-length, and feature-length films, documentaries, and commercials, as well as to actors. Each nominee receives €1000.

We are keeping our fingers crossed and will be excitedly watching the award ceremony on June 21, which will be streamed live on the ARD Mediathek from 7 pm.



Romania’s Submission to the Oscars: “Collective” by DFFB Graduate Alexander Nanau

For the first time, Alexander Nanau, DFFB alumnus and successful documentary filmmaker, has submitted a documentary film on behalf of his homeland Romania to compete for the Oscar for Best International Film.

In his project COLLECTIVE (director: Alexander Nanau, screenwriter: Alexander Nanau and Antoaneta Opris, cinematographer: Alexander Nanau, producer: Hanka Kastelicova, Bernard Michaux, Alexander Nanau, Bianca Oana), which had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in 2019, he follows a group of investigative journalists from the Romanian newspaper “Gazeta Sporturilor” as they uncover a web of corruption in the healthcare sector across the board.

In 2020, the documentary, co-produced with MDR, Luxembourg’s Samsa Film, and HBO Europe, was awarded the European Film Award for Best Documentary.  His last film project, LUMEA VAZUTA DE ION B (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ION B), is the recipient of an Emmy.

On February 9, the preselection of the Oscars—the shortlist of 10 films—for the Best International Film will be announced. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you, dear Alexander!

And all those who are now curious about the documentary can watch it through the ARD-Mediathek.


Photo Copyright: Dogwoof Ltd.

German Film Critics’ Award 2020 for NACKTE TIERE and GIRAFFE

Yesterday evening, the German Film Critics Association announced the 2020 award winners. The award-winning films also include productions by two DFFB graduates:

Melanie Waelde was presented with the Best First Feature Award for her film NAKED ANIMALS. The jury explained its decision with warm words: “Meanwhile, the film itself takes off and dares itself to be a cinema that refrains from explaining away its characters. The film takes an undogmatical approach to its dramaturgies and gender images (…). The camera throws itself into the fray with relish, wanting to play along with the violent hustle and bustle of a world without parental supervision, in which it is important never to let your guard down. This debut film shows no standstill. Rather, it celebrates movement, flaunting it by letting the characters collide.”

With GIRAFFE, another alumna, Anna Sofie Hartmann, was thrilled to receive the Best Feature Film Award of the year. “On all levels, this film, which oscillates between essay, documentary and fiction, is skillfully directed and is consistently surprising and fresh. (…) Down to the last, fading moment, Anna Sofie Hartmann succeeds in condensing European labour market reality and myth into a whole, which could not be more sober, topical, and enchanting,” said the jury.

The German Critics’ Prize is awarded annually by critics to German film productions that “are not judged according to economic, country-specific, or political criteria, but exclusively according to artistic ones,” explains the VdFk.

We congratulate both teams on their awards!

GIRAFFE by DFFB Alumna Anna Sofie Hartmann available on Video on Demand

Demand. The German-Danish film was produced by Komplizen Film in collaboration with Profile Pictures and rbb.

Several DFFB students and alumni worked on the project, which celebrated its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in 2019 and has since experienced a successful film festival tour. The team comprises Jenny Lou Ziegel as cinematographer, Jonas Dornbach on the producer team, Ben von Dobeneck in production management, Daria Wichmann in production management, as well as Borbála Nagy, Faraz Fesharaki, Lisa Roling, and Oliver Göbel.

The film is about “A tunnel is to be built to connect Denmark and Germany; the present moves towards the future, change is in the air. (…) A Danish summer: long days turn into blue nights. People meet, then part ways again.”

Worth a look!


Photo Credits: GRANDFILM Distribution

DFFB graduation film in competition at the 71st Berlinale

The graduation film WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY? by directing graduate Alexandre Koberidze celebrates its world premiere in competition at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival.

Observing everyday life in Kutaisi, Georgia, with humour and sensitivity, the 150-minute film paints a magical love story that seems impossible, yet ends on a hopeful note. “I wanted to make a film about the love of cinema, in times when others have long since declared cinema dead,” says the director, who was born in Tbilisi in 1984.

WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY? was funded by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg as part of the LEUCHTSTOFF program. With the young production company New Matter Films, founded by the students Mariam Shatberashvili and Luise Hauschild as well as cinematographer Faraz Fesharaki, the director has gathered an ambitious, motivated, and highly talented team around him, which successfully worked together on the realization of this special graduation film.

We warmly congratulate the entire team for this huge honour and are already keeping our fingers crossed for the Golden Bear Awards on March 5!