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Teddy Award 2005
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Teddy Award 2006

Interview mit/with Wieland Speck (Page 4)

„The issue hasn't been resolved”

deutsche Version
Wieland Speck

For the twentieth time, the annual gay and lesbian Teddy Award will be presented at the upcoming Berlinale. For the anniversary the Panorama, working with the Berlin Film Museum, has put together a Retrospective. The Teddy Twenty Tribute will present Teddy Award winners from the past two decades, documenting the turbulent history of gay and lesbian film. An interview with Wieland Speck, director of the Panorama and prime witness to the development of the Teddy, about early battles, old wounds and late recognition. Despite progress made in gay emancipation, the fight against discrimination is as important today as ever, says Speck. “We are not even close to where we think we are.”

How was the idea of the Teddy born? What were the motives behind awarding a gay and lesbian film prize?

It began when Manfred Salzgeber was appointed by Moritz de Hadeln to direct the Panorama section, which was still known as the “Info-Schau” back then. Manfred had built up a new film scene in Berlin, which demanded a different type of work in the festival. The Panorama managed to do just this, namely bring in films that were interesting for these new art house cinemas.

Coinciding with the women’s and gay liberation movements, more and more films were being made on both issues. With regards to the women’s issue, we weren’t the only ones, but for gay films we were the only ones, and worldwide for that matter. When we saw that with these films we were also attracting the movers and shakers and theoreticians, the idea arose to hold meetings during the Berlinale. They took place at the “Prinz Eisenherz” bookstore. There we set up a café at night where we showed films on 16mm and video that would otherwise not have made it into the festival, but which were important for this subculture.

"Opening eyes to gay and lesbian film"

Out of this work developed the idea of presenting a gay and lesbian film prize. During the 1987 festival I decided to ask this group that was meeting there: What do you think was the best film? The answer was: among the feature films, Pedro Almodóvar and for the short films Gus van Sant, two directors no one knew about at the time. That was the first jury decision and therefore the Teddy’s hour of birth. For ten years this group made up the Teddy jury - on the condition that the people were there for the entire duration of the festival and had seen at least 85 percent of the films.

Carmen Maura, Pedro Almodóvar and Manfred Salzgeber at the Berlinale 1987

In the beginning the Teddy was awarded only to films in the Panorama.

Yes, but from the beginning the idea was to expand this prize to cover all the sections. We wanted to persuade the other programmers to open their eyes to gay and lesbian cinema. Because our experience was that at every festival in the world, and also in the other departments of the Berlinale, nobody had paid attention to gay and lesbian film.

To what extent could one talk about “gay and lesbian film” as a genre back then? Did the Panorama contribute to the development of such a genre?

I would say that in went hand in hand. As soon as filmmakers realise that there is a place where they will be taken seriously, it emboldens them with regards to their work. Still today, gay and lesbian films are the films will the smallest budgets. Typically distributors and financiers stay away from films about minorities. That’s why, from the beginning, it was not just important whether a film was gay or lesbian, but that we showed good films. We didn’t just want to open up a sub-cultural platform. That would have damaged the reputation of the Panorama and the films themselves. We managed to create a stronger presence for this segment. The buyers saw that there was an urban audience that was interested - an audience that went far beyond gays and lesbians themselves.

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